An apple a day…

Let’s face it, apples are a bit dull. They often sit in my fruit bowl for days without being eaten. However, there is a reason why they are said to keep the doctor away. According to many scientists they are proven to help reduce blood cholesterol and promote healthy bowl function as well as being packed with vitamins. Their high dietary fibre content also means that sugar is released slowly into the body therefore are a perfect way to start your day. So I thought I’d spice up the simple apple with two super-healthy recipes for breakfasts on-the-go: Apple, Pear and Fresh Ginger Smoothies and Apple and Blueberry Bircher Muesli.

For those lazy weekend brunches I’ve also included a slightly less-healthy but equally delectable recipe for Apple, Cinnamon and Almond Swirls with Honey Glaze.

APPLE PEAR AND FRESH GINGER SMOOTHIES

Perfect for breakfasts on-the-go, this smoothie is packed full of nutrients and will keep you full until lunchtime. Plus there’s only 95 calories per serving.

Here’s how (makes 4 750ml):

  • 250ml fresh apple juice (not from concentrate)
  • 3 ripe pears, cut into chunks
  • 2 tbsp natural or plain yoghurt (I used Yeo Valley Organic)
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp finely grated ginger

How to make it…

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender with a handful of ice cubes and mix until smooth
  2. Pour into glasses and drink immediately or alternatively transfer to a cooler cup and take with you

APPLE AND BLUEBERRY BIRCHER MUESLI

The Swiss-born Dr Bircher-Benner invented this muesli for his patients in the 1890s to help with their recovery in hospital. Today, its become an increasingly popular breakfast and serves as a healthy alternative to many cereals that are packed full of refined sugar. The porridge oats soaked in apple juice act as a blank canvas to which you can add fruit, nuts and seeds. I’ve used agave nectar as a natural sweet alternative to adding sugar or honey. It is a natural fructose which has the lowest glycaemic index value (GI) of any sweetener which means that it does not cause a quick rise in blood sugar levels keeping hunger pangs at bay. I’ve added chopped apples and blueberries but you can mix any fruit you want.

Here’s how (serves 4-6):

  • 200g rolled porridge oats
  • 80ml apple juice
  • 150g natural or Greek yoghurt (use full fat)
  • 1 large apple, chopped
  • 80g agave nectar (I use the stuff from the Groovy Food Co. Available in Waitrose)
  • 100g blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. Place oats and apple juice in a large bowl and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Can also leave in the fridge overnight to soak.
  2. When ready to serve mix in yoghurt, vanilla, agave nectar, apples and blueberries

APPLE, CINNAMON AND ALMOND SWIRLS WITH HONEY GLAZE

I found this moreish recipe in this month’s copy of ‘delicious’ magazine. It comes from one of the most innovative and creative (and my personal favourite) foodie blogs ‘What Katie Ate’ by Sydney-based food stylist and photographer Katie Quinn Davies. Perfect for those weekend brunches when your week of healthy-eating flies right out the window and all you fancy is a big fat buttery pastry.

So here’s how (makes 14):

  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp milk
  • 3 x 320g all-butter pastry
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and cut into small cubes
  • 80g flaked almonds

For the honey glaze…

  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200C (180C fan)
  2. Mix cinnamon and brown sugar in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl whisk egg and milk then set aside.
  3. Sprinkle some flour over the work surface and roll out 1 sheet of pastry into a large rectangle. Brush with a third of melted butter, then scatter with a third of cinnamon sugar. Top with a second pastry sheet, then repeat the process to create three layers. Finish with remaining melted butter and cinnamon sugar.
  4. Scatter the apples and most of the flaked almonds over the pastry. Tightly roll up from the long side to form a swiss roll shape using the baking paper to help lift the pastry. Brush the open end with a little of the egg mixture to seal, then brush all over.
  5. With a sharp knife cut the roll in 14 x 2.5cm slices, then carefully lay each spiral flat on the a lined baking sheet. Brush with the remaining egg then scatter the rest of cinnamon sugar and remaining almonds. Bake for 40 minutes until golden.
  6. Whilst the swirls are in the oven, to make the glaze, gently warm the honey and vanilla in a small pan over a medium heat for 1 minute.
  7. Remove pastries from the oven and brush with glaze. Sprinkle over caster sugar then return to oven for 5-10 minutes until sticky and crisp. Place on a cooling rack to avoid getting soggy bottoms!

Best served fresh from the oven!

Have a look at Katie’s stylish promo video for her new cookbook http://vimeo.com/50224624

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