Seasonal spiced apple compote

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.

Apples make a natural substitute for berries in the winter months and, although we think of berries as the ultimate superfood, the apple is a close rival. 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 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!

Ingredients

  •  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)

Method

  1. Toss all the ingredients together in a large saucepan and add a couple of tablespoons of water.
  2. 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.
  3. Serve with a little Greek yoghurt or kefir.

Variations

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

 

 

Guilt-free, gluten-free, almost sugar-free chocolate brownies.

When I first tasted these brownies I had a moment of pure bliss. As Van Morrison would say, ‘I’ve been searching a long time, for some[thing] exactly like you’. For while these brownies are free from naughtiness they are most certainly not free from tastiness. There is a tiny amount of sugar in there furnished by the chocolate, but the higher the rating of the chocolate you buy, the less there will be. (About 2g per brownie if you use 85% chocolate Continue reading