Take an Apple round and red…
Don’t slice down, slice through instead…
Right inside it you will see,
A star as pretty as can be! – Margaret Hillert’s Star Magic
Thank you Margaret, I did exactly that! I tried to innovate and the “Star Magic” led me to make a beautiful dessert-like, guilt-free and nutrition punched apple treat for my girl J, and her fussy-apple eater Dad.
For years now, I’ve been wrapping my brain around to find “THE” way to feed apples to my kin. Rready made clear apple juice gets an occasional “okay” from this girl-and-Dad duo plus J likes the homemade applesauce I make for her. Fair enough, but both store bought juice and applesauce have sugar. And when you should eat a fruit, it doesn’t make sense to always push down some sugar with it.
If I were to pack them both sliced apples along with their school/office lunch, the unhappy slices would invariably have to travel back home browned…J’s with a single bite taken and with impressions of her teeth…and Daddy’s intact, whole and untouched!!
Upon enquiry, J would always say, “Ma, I think the recess bell rang too soon today and we only got like 5 minutes to eat. I could only eat my sandwich. But look at my apples…aren’t you happy that I at least tried some?”. “Yes, of course! Sure, I understand baby – I am so proud of you”, is all I would be left to mumble with a smirk. Ask Daddy and he is quick to add “I had a stuffed tight day at work. Was slammed with meetings and had a hurried, sad desk lunch!”
Then he’d suddenly look into my eyes, and with a flashing smile and sparkling eyes, he’d ask the million dollar question he was waiting for…”though I didn’t have the time, but why don’t you finish the apples you gave me? Apples are SO good for you?” Little girl J joins in “Yes Mommy, have mine too. You take care of us all the time and I love you. I want you to have the best food in the whole wide world.”
Okay, I get the state of affairs now. The problem is, I can eat my share of the apple, but I cannot keep finishing everybody’s in the house! And they REALLY need to get themselves to eat some of that wonder-fruit now.
Send those untouched and well preserved day-old, packed apples with Daddy’s lunch to work again the next day, and the miserable apples, now double depressed, would boomerang back to me, as always!
And the reason? Before I can ask him anything, he has a ready answer “Well, you know how desktop dining is? Don’t you? And dozens of stuffs that I multitask, even at lunch break…I got caught neck deep with things in office today. I barely managed to finish the Biryani you made for me. But I never got the time for apples.” – And during this entire conversation, he will constantly look away from me, and quickly vanish from that room after he has hurriedly pushed the bag of apple slices into the refrigerator.
Really? And do I have to believe that? He had the time to finish all the Biryani and bite into and clear all the chicken on the bones…but had no time for those two poor slices of apples? I go to office too, and have always been able to eat a couple slices even when I am working. But J and her Dad have an excuse for each day I give them apples to eat. They have a story for not eating apples on a National holiday too! Sounds weird?? YES, very weird, but a completely true account of the “not-been-able-to-eat-apple situations” that I face almost daily in the house!
I somehow made up my mind to figure out a way to have the two love apples. And I was so sick and tired of their “tell a tale for not eating” habits – I seriously needed a break now.
I had heard about the goodness of baked apples. So I tried, and I stuffed them with some more nutrition and zero sugar. The yield was absolute divine! J and her Daddy ate them with a cream topping and loved them…and said they couldn’t believe they were “The same Apples” that they had been dodging all this while. So, here’s it…try and see the “Star magic” yourself!
Ingredients (for baked apples) ⇒
- 2 lustrous red and sweet Apples (I used Gala apples)
- 16-20 Blueberries (Fresh or frozen)
- 2 fresh Strawberries (hulled and sliced) or Peach slices
- 5-6 tbsp of homemade Granola OR your favorite granola crunch from the store OR Muesli
- 2 tsp butter (Optional) — mildly salted, sweet cream butters taste best here
- 1 tsp light oil to grease the baking dish
** Alternatively, you may use any other stuffing that you like in apples.
For homemade Granola, you need:
- 3 tbsp rolled oats
- 2 tsp Rice Krispies or crisp rice
- 1/2 tsp whole grain wheat flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp brown sugar (optional — ignore if you don’t like your granola crunch very sweet)
- 1 tbsp Honey or Maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp dried currants or chopped sultanas
- 1 tsp sliced almonds
This is how I make the granola at home:
In a mixing bowl, gather all ingredients and mix and turn using a spoon, until you see crunchy granola lumps. Adjust the amount of honey/syrup/sugar or cinnamon powder, per your taste.
Method to make Stuffed and Baked Apples ⇒
- Line a baking dish with heavy duty aluminium foil (it makes the end clean up super easy!). You may also use a baking dish without the foil.
- Grease the dish or aluminium foil with oil
- Wash the apples and pat them dry. Pull out any stalk you see (don’t cut), so that each half can nicely sit on the dish without rolling over.
- Slice across, through the apples into circular halves — and you’ll see the beautiful star core
- Using a paring knife, or the tip of a peeler, carefully remove the star core. Make sure you don’t cut too deep or across. We need to only core the apples to remove the seeds and the hard seed pocket skin, as well as to make a little room for the stuffing. Do not cut the apple ends to remove the stalk-attachment-area or the bottom calyx portion – they need to be left intact.
- Place about 4-5 blueberries in each apple core.
- Top it with a few strawberry slices
- If you want to add a little butter for flavor, put 1/2 tsp slice of butter on the fruits you added
- Now place about 1 tbsp of the Granola or Museli
- Cover the baking dish with aluminium foil for quicker, more uniformly baked and done apples
- Pre-heat oven to 450°F
- Heat the stuffed apples in the oven for about 1 hour. Baking for an hour yields very soft baked apples. However, if you do not like apples that are so soft, then bake for only 40 minutes, and keep checking the mushiness of the apples every 10 minutes or so, until you get the type of baked apples you like
- Enjoy it with any topping you like — whipped cream, or heavy cream, fruit sauce, honey, maple syrup, caramel, fresh fruit chunks, marshmallows, M&M’s, sugar sprinklers, a dollop of an ice-cream, or absolutely whatever you’d like to top it with!!