Healthy snacks – Apple crisps

Yes, we all know that if you snack, it’s probably better to eat fruit or crackers than cookies or chocolate. But that’s just so tempting! I really enjoy apples and feel like I’m very healthy when I eat an apple, but chocolate… Hey, I’m a woman, we all love chocolate!  Yet, eating apples instead of candy bars has huge benefits. Lower calories, lower fat, higher water and fibre content… It’s not that apples contain that many more nutrients, but that they contain less ‘bad stuff’. Which is why “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, especially if you eat it instead of snacks rich in saturated fat and sugar.

Sometimes, however, you’ll want something else. A plain apple doesn’t always feel like a snack when you’re watching television. A bowl of sugar-coated popcorn or crisps, those are snacks you enjoy in front of the TV. They taste nice and it’s something you can keep grabbing, mindlessly, often. Cutting an apple into pieces might solve part of this by making it grabbable (that’s probably not a word…), but I found a recipe on Beginspiration, a Dutch cooking blog, that has even more potential as an evening snack. Healthy and extremely simple to make, though you have to wait a while before they’re done: apple crisps! Small, crispy apple slices, spiced with cinnamon and lemon. They taste great (though you need to find a good balance in lemon juice and cinnamon), and make your home smell winter-y. Plus point: it’s a snack children can easily help making. So let me present you with this extremely simple recipe for lovely apple crisps!

Preheat the oven to 100 degrees centigrade and line a plate with a sheet of baking paper. Take as many rinsed apples as you like (with 2 decent-sized apples you can fill the plate), a spoonful of lemon juice per apple and as much cinnamon as you like. Take out the apple core and cut the apples into round or semi-circled slices (you can use a simple knife, then semi-circles are probably safer, a mandolin or other aid you might have). Toss round the apples with the lemon juice and the cinnamon, making sure all slices have at least some cinnamon on them. Then put them in the oven until they are crisp (about 2 – 2.5 hours). If you cool them and put them in an airtight container, you can keep them for about 3 days, then they go soft.

It really is that easy! I tried them a few days ago and ate the last crisps yesterday afternoon (my container apparently wasn’t completely airtight, so they had gone a bit soft 😦 ). Admittedly, it tasted a bit weird at first, perhaps because I had put in a bit too much cinnamon and lemon juice. But I found that despite that, I kept taking new ones… Fairly addictive, comparable to salted crisps or other snacks, but way healthier, so definitely something you should try! Thanks for the wonderful recipe, Ianna!

What to do with bananas gone black

Yay, lovely sweet bananas! I usually get a whole bunch of them, hoping my husband will be tempted to eat some fruit. Without any results of course. And because I don’t like bananas every day, I’m left with several that keep getting blacker and so sweet I don’t like them anymore. But throwing them away would be a shame!

So last week, with the two blackened bananas left in the fruit basket and things I always have in store, I made banana and chocolate cake. It was wonderfully sweet with a fruity tang, still a bit moist but with a crunch. My entire workgroup enjoyed helping me eat it (cause otherwise my husband and I would’ve eaten it ourselves… completely).

If you have bananas left, search online for a nice recipe, or just try this!

Ingredients:

Ripe bananas (I used two)
Self-raising flour
175 grams of sugar
Milk
1 egg
6 tablespoons of cacao powder
Optional: chopped hazelnuts and chopped chocolate

The procedure is simple. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees centigrade and oil a cake baking tray. Lining the bottom with baking paper makes it easier to get the cake out in the end. Mash the bananas and mix in the sugar, the cacao powder and the egg. Then add self-raising flour until the mixture is sticky but not too wet anymore. If you put in too much, correct with some milk. Mix in the hazelnuts and chocolate if you like. Put the mixture in the baking tray and bake for about 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean.

Don’t forget to let it cool at least a bit! And enjoy, of course 🙂

Strawberry and blackberry jam

I love the street market! Every Wednesday and Saturday, our city has one in the old part of town. Whenever I can, I love to go there, especially for fresh fruits (except mangoes, I have had rotten mangoes thrice now, all from the street market, and I’m done with it). Last week, I got deliciously sweet strawberries. Small and red, so you don’t need any sugar with them. My absolute summer favourite.

Sometimes I buy to much fruit… Today, I still had 200 gram of strawberries, two apples and some blackberries I picked when walking back from work. Perfect ingredients for a small bottle of jam! I just cleaned and cut up the fruit (leave the skin on the apples), heated it until the fruit got soft (with a bit of lemon juice to stop it from burning) and then put it in the blender. You can take the apples out before you put them in, but since I had so little fruit, I decided to keep it in. The apples and the lemon juice provided enough pectin to set the liquid, and the strawberries were sweet enough to not put in any sugar 🙂 It looks great with a vibrant red-purple colour. I’m really happy with the way it looks. It tastes a bit acidic, but hey, I can always add sugar when I really think I need it. Next time I’ll use a little less lemon juice, though 😉

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