Healthy Apple Desserts

So many apple desserts involve large amounts of sugar, butter, shortening, or white flour – or all four of these! It’s really too bad, since naturally-sweet apples make excellent, healthy desserts without all of the added ingredients. Here are some recipes for healthy apple desserts that everyone in the family can enjoy.

1. Jellied Apple Squares

This natural dessert is great for kids, and adults who want a dessert that is refreshing and easy on the digestion. It uses agar-agar, a healthy, seaweed-based jelling agent that acts like gelatin. It is available in some grocery stores and most health food stores.

Ingredients:

* 3 medium apples, sliced into thin slices. Peeling is optional
* 2 cups water
* 2 cups unsweetened apple juice
* 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons agar-agar flakes
* Pinch of salt

Bring all ingredients except the salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for just under 3 minutes. Pour into a jell-o mold or dish and refrigerate until firm. This will take about an hour. When firm, cut into squares or remove from the mold and slice.

2. Nutty Apple Crunch

With their good fats, nuts are a healthful addition to this apple dessert. Arrowroot is a natural thickening agent that is a healthy substitute for cornstarch.

Ingredients:

* 1 dozen medium apples, skins optional
* 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
* 1 cup rolled oats
* 1/2 cup walnuts
* 1/4 cup each almonds and hazelnuts (filberts)
* 2 tablespoons brown rice syrup or honey
* Pinch of salt

Slice apples and add salt and arrowroot; mix well and place in baking dish. Pan-roast the oats in a dry skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Stir constantly. Roast the nuts the same way if they are not already roasted. Chop nuts and add them to the roasted oats. Mix in the brown rice syrup or honey with your hands, and sprinkle this mixture over the apples in the baking dish. Cover and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes, then remove the cover and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more.

3. Apple Pie

A healthy apple pie starts with a healthy pie crust (yes, there is such a thing). Here is how to make the dough for two pie crusts.

Ingredients:

* 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons – 1/4 cup corn oil
* 3/4 – 1 cup very cold water

Mix flour and salt, then add the oil and mix it with your hands, rubbing it between your fingers and palms to coat all the flour. Then add the water gradually until it forms a dough that is not too sticky. Knead the dough into a ball and let it rest for a few minutes. Then divide it in half and use one part for the bottom crust and the other part for the top.

Apple filling:

* 10 or 12 medium apples, sliced. Peeling is optional
* 1/2 cup honey or brown rice syrup
* 1-2 tablespoons arrowroot powder
* 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix all of these ingredients together and pour into the pie shell. Cover with the top crust, crimp and seal. Vent the top by cutting 4 small slits in the dough. Bake at 375 degrees for half an hour.

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