Counter Action: Pomegranate applesauce

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Day 2 of NaNoWriMo! How are we doing? Everyone hale and hearty?

And hey, how about that extra hour this morning? Did you put it to good purpose? Did you rise an hour early and greet the wan winter dawn with a Sun Salutation atop a mountain?

I sure didn’t. I used that hour to sleep. Now, apart from this cold I’m nursing, I feel fantastic. Thanks, Ben Franklin.

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All week long I’ve had three Gala apples sitting on my counter, perfectly ripe but still a little soft for eating straight. I meant to turn them into Smitten Kitchen’s apple–honey challah this weekend, but then I got sick and felt more like lounging around drinking tea than wrestling with several pounds of dough. To compromise, I wrestled with a pomegranate instead and made this applesauce. It’s pleasantly pink with a gentle tangy sweetness from the pomegranate arils. I like it solo or on oatmeal, but it would also be lovely warm on pancakes or waffles.

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Pomegranate applesauce

Ingredients:

  • 5–6 apples (I used three Gala and two Honeycrisp)
  • 1/2 c. pomegranate arils (or if you’re in a rush, substitute 1/4 c. pomegranate juice)
  • 2 tsp. honey (I used blackberry blossom; feel free to go milder or stronger)

Directions:

  1. Peel, core, and dice the apples. Place in a stockpot with the pomegranate arils and honey. Depending on your pot’s size, fill about halfway with water — you want the fruit to be floating about four inches from the burner.
  2. Simmer for about 30 minutes with the lid on, then about 30 minutes with the lid off. You’re aiming for the apples to be cooked and most of the liquid to evaporate. Add water as needed to keep the sauce from scorching.
  3. Feel free to eat as is. If you’re like me and prefer to get rid of the crunchy little pomegranate seeds, put the mixture through a ricer before eating.
  4. Makes about three cups of applesauce. Eat immediately or keep in the fridge for 5–6 days.

 

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Counter Action: Apple pie smoothie

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After a long run, there’s nothing better than downing a smoothie.

(Although a good stretch and a shower come close.)

I started running the summer after my junior year of college. It was a beastly hot summer, as usual for the region, and my roommate and I spent most of our free time lying around the house like a couple of damp towels, getting up only to adjust the A/C or stick our heads in the freezer.

There was also a great deal of my roommate’s favourite TV show, which had this weird storyline involving a large blue box. When she was watching it on the big TV and I was studying at the dining room table, it was too bizarre not to surreptitiously watch with her. Eventually she caught me at it.

Seriously, look at this objectively and tell me you're not a little weirded out.

Seriously, look at this objectively and tell me you don’t have questions.

“Hey, you want to come and watch?” she said, clicking pause.

“What is it?”

“It’s called Doctor Who. You’ll love it. Come on.”

It took me a few episodes to get into it, but eventually I developed a voracious appetite for all things Whovian, and the rest, as they say, is history. Halfway through an episode (possibly S02x05, “Rise of the Cybermen”), I suddenly realized that the heroes all had one thing in common: They were very good at running.

This was such an epiphany, I might even have put down my bowl of cherry cobbler for a second to ponder it. If I were the companion, I realized, we’d never escape anything. “You go!” I’d gasp, stumbling to a halt beside the misbehaving reactor and clutching the stitch in my side. “Go on without me! I’ll catch up!”

And then the Doctor wouldn’t leave, of course, and the reactor would blow up, and that would be the end of the series. All because I was in terrible shape.

I shared this realization with my roommate, and she agreed: Weather be darned, we were going to start running. We found something on Pinterest called Couch to 5K that seemed promising, since Day 1 told us to run for only thirty seconds. “I can do that,” I scoffed. As it turns out, I couldn’t, but I learned soon enough, powered by cheesy Pinterest quotes like “Sweat is your fat crying.” We also drank a lot of spinach smoothies (recipe in the offing, also from Pinterest), and it was then that I discovered the joy of a well-earned smoothie.

This apple pie smoothie is an excellent transition between summer and fall — it’s got all the chilly delight of a summer smoothie, with the flavour palette of fall. If you were feeling particularly adventurous, you could even swap out the apple for a dollop of pumpkin purée, if that’s your jam.

But let’s not lose sight of the moral of the story: When common sense and years of health education fail, TV and the Internet can step in and save the day.

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Apple pie smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 large, cold apple, cored and diced (leave the peel on for more fiber, or remove it for a special occasion)
  • 1-1/2 c. cold milk (or part milk, part apple juice)
  • 2 T. quick-cook oatmeal
  • 2 tsp. maple syrup
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Pour milk (or milk and apple juice) into blender. Add oatmeal. Let sit 2–3 minutes to soften oatmeal.
  2. Add apple chunks, maple syrup, and spices. Blend until smooth. Serve cold.

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Photo credit: Doctor Who screenshot originally from clarasity.tumblr.com, via Pinterest.