I’m a great believer that the proverbs and old wives’ tales that we learned from our grandparents were based in ancient wisdom that we ignore at our peril. So I wasn’t surprised to learn, during my functional medicine training earlier this year, that a daily portion of stewed apples can work miracles in just a few days to support and restore a healthy microbial population in the gut.
Although we think of berries as the ultimate superfood, the apple is a close rival – a natural substitute for breakfast berries in winter. My recipe has so many other wonderful ingredients that it is definitely not a second best choice, and it makes enough to eat some and freeze some. (It also makes the ideal base for a spicy low carb apple crumble.)
Of course, fruit is one of the food groups that is limited to two portions a day on a low carb diet. Apart from the emerging wonders of citrus peel, most of the nutrients provided by fruit can be found in vegetables too. I tend to recommend just one portion a day, preferably of a fruit that grows happily in the UK climate (and, thus, tends to be lower in sugar).
This recipe is a little higher in carbohydrate than the equivalent portion of berries but it packs a mighty nutritional punch. If you suffer with digestive issues, or if you are recovering from surgery, antibiotics or chemotherapy it might be a good choice to help restore digestive function and the vital immune army in your gut – even if you only eat it for a couple of weeks.
I’ve got some cooking in the kitchen right now and they smell like Christmas!
- 1.5 kilos organic cooking or juicing apples (I prefer a mix of the two) cored and chopped into small pieces with skin still on
- 2 handfuls organic sultanas if you prefer a tiny bit of sweetening
- 1 heaped teaspoon of ground cinnamon or 1 large cinnamon stick
- 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice
- 1 ‘thumb’ of fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1/4 ‘thumb’ of fresh turmeric, finely grated (or 1/2 teaspoon)
- grated zest, pith and juice of half a lemon (or orange)
- Toss all the ingredients together in a large saucepan and add a couple of tablespoons of water.
- Cook over a gentle heat for about 30-40 minutes or until the apples have broken down to your desired consistency. Personally I prefer a few recognisable lumps to be left. It will keep on cooking a little after you take it off the heat so stop before it goes too mushy.
- Serve with a little Greek yoghurt or kefir.
Adjust the seasoning to suit your personal preference: I like mine quite spicy. Swap orange or grapefruit for the lemon; cranberries instead of sultanas. Adding some finely chopped rosemary is also nice.
Key Foods and Nutrients
- Prebiotic fibre from apples, sultanas
- Citrus peel
- Citrus bioflavonoids
- Vitamin C
- Quercitin (not destroyed by cooking)