Apple Appreciation

Pink lady apple tree

I feel a little sorry for fruits that are at their best in the cooler months. I hear many praises being sung about Summer stone fruit, but not so much love being heaped upon fruits that are at their best in the middle of the year. Perhaps the lack of enthusiasm is because we are so used to having access to apples, oranges and bananas all year round. So when one day last week a good friend invited me to go apple picking with her and her family at a local orchard and then later that same day an email popped into my inbox extolling the virtues of new season Australian apples, I knew it was time to express some appreciation for the humble apple.

Now we all know apples are healthy - "an apple a day..." and all that jazz. Here are a few random facts about apples that you may not be aware of.

  • Apples have been linked to a reduced risk of lung cancer in both men and women.
  • One study has suggested that when a mother eats apples throughout pregnancy, their child may be less likely to develop asthma later in life.
  • Apples are a non dairy source of calcium, and also contain iron and zinc.
  • Most of the antioxidants in apples are found in the skin - so eat the whole fruit!
  • Apples have 10 times the antioxidant content of Goji Berry juice (a product claimed to be a superfood with the price tag to match).
Glenbernie Apple Orchard

It was an absolute privilege to be able to visit Glenbernie Orchard in Darkes Forest this week and pick delicious and crisp Pink Lady apples right off the tree. Seeing the fruit growing on the trees and listening to the farmer talk about their produce brings a whole new level of appreciation. What a joy to see the kids sit quietly in the shade of the trees and munch happily away on apples they plucked from the branches with their own hands.

As well as Pink Ladies, the orchard also grows Royal Gala, Jonathan, Red Delicious, Fuji and Granny Smith varieties, which can be purchased at their store, The Apple Shack, along with juices, jams, honey, oils and other fruits. Be sure to check out their Facebook page.

Gumboots at the apple orchard
Jacqui picking apples

Two apple varieties you may not have heard of are Kanzi and Greenstar apples. These new Australian apple varieties are in season right now and definitely worth a try.
The Kanzi is a cross between a gala and a braeburn apple, delivering a sweet and tangy fruit. These red apples do not bruise easily, making them perfect for school lunch boxes or your work bag.
The Greenstar is a crunchy green variety that is sweeter than the more familiar Granny Smith. Due to its high vitamin C content, the Greenstar apple stays white long after being sliced, making it an ideal apple for beautifully presented salads.
Take a look at this infographic for more tips and keep a look out for these varieties in store at your local green grocer and selected supermarkets.

Apple Infographic

Are you an apple lover too? Sign up to the Rethink Nutrition mailing list by the start of May to have two delicious apple recipes sent straight to your inbox!

Happy crunching xx

To market, to market...

Sunday was a bright sun and blue sky winter day, perfect weather to head along to the very first 'Foragers Market' at Bulli Showground, which is what I (along with hundreds of other people) did, eager to check out this new farmers and artisan market. Clearly many locals, as well as not-so-locals, had marked the event on their calendar, as the showground and undercover market space were jam packed. I made the rookie error of taking the pram, making it difficult to cut through the crowd and get in close to the various produce stalls - will be sure to use the baby carrier next time!

I did manage to pick up a few bits and pieces, then headed into the sunshine to enjoy some of the spoils. There were some lovely spots to sit and take a break from the crowded stalls, as well as listen to some live music. We plonked ourselves under a tree and feasted on fresh raspberries.

marketraspberries

We then made our way back out and to our car a few blocks away, picking up a small posy of flowers on our way out. Then back home to deliver my other half his hot empanada and the few raspberries that were left.

At home, I roasted my beautiful bunch of baby beets and made a warm salad with roast potato, rocket, walnuts and tahini dressing.

The salad would have been great with some goats cheese or ricotta, but I couldn't get close enough to the cheese stall to acquire any! Oh well, there's always next Sunday.

Rethink Nutrition

My favourite time of the day is when my family sits down to our evening meal. We eat pretty early these days - 5pm - because we like to share the meal with our toddler. I look forward to dinner each day, to discussing the days events, to watching my son discover new tastes and textures, to digging into a decent meal after a long day. It's the time of day where the demands of life are paused if only for a moment (phones are banned at our dinner table*) and a time when I get the satisfaction of providing my little tribe with some good nutritious tucker.

What if food and eating could be this simple, this joyful, all the time?

Everyday we are bombarded with messages that affect how we think about food and eating. Don't eat this, quit that, X is toxic, but Y will cure all.  Certain 'superfoods' have become status symbols while we can be made to feel embarrassed if our diet contains the latest Hollywood no-no nutrient. The result of all these messages can understandably be confusion and frustration, leading to a poor food relationship. 

It's time to stop, take a deep breath, stand back, and rethink the way you see food and nutrition. Simplify eating, develop a healthy relationship with food and learn that when you eat nutritious, minimally processed and wholesome foods most of the time, the odd indulgence is no biggie.

It's my hope that this blog can help you with this rethink process. Part nutrition and health updates, part recipes and part personal food adventures. All aiming to inspire you to take your own food journey that is both physically and mentally healthy.

 

To prove it won't be all salads and celery sticks, let's start things right with a pie:

 

Pumpkin, Spinach and Feta Pie

 Most Wollongong dwellers are well accustomed with the phrase 'going down the coast''. We are very blessed to have the amazing beaches and national parks of NSW's South Coast only a short road trip away. We try to make the most of this good fortune as often as we can, either camping, or hiring a holiday cabin, but always with a surfboard strapped to the car roof and travel tea in hand.

image.jpg

Like most road trippers, we have our usual pit stop locations along the way. The one stop that is never missed on our South Coast trip is Hayden's. A pie shop in Ulladulla. And for me the choice is always simple - pumpkin, spinach and feta please!

Alas, the craving for this pastry treat arises more often than the opportunity to drive 2 hours south to buy one.  So some home kitchen creativity was required. My version has much more spinach and the addition of chickpeas to boost protein and fibre. Here it is.

 

Approximately 850g of pumpkin (my preference is kent or jap), peeled and roughly cut into 2-3cm chunks

1Tbsp extra virgin olive oil + 1 tsp extra

1tsp honey

1/2tsp dried sage

Cracked black pepper and salt

1 bunch English spinach, roughly chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

100g feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

2 sheets puff pastry (homemade preferred) 

1 egg, beaten

 

Preheat oven to 200•c

Toss the pumpkin in the olive oil and then place the chunks on a lined baking tray. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with sage. Crack some pepper and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the chunks. Roast in the oven for 30min. Set aside to cool. When completely cooled, place the pumpkin in a bowl and roughly mash with a fork, leaving plenty of lumps. 

Heat the extra oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Add the garlic but don't allow it to burn or crisp. Add the spinach and while stirring, allow it to wilt slightly. Remove from heat and toss the feta and chickpeas into the spinach mixture. 

Grease a pie dish and line with one sheet of puff pastry. Place the completely cooled pumpkin mash into the base of the pie, then spoon the spinach mixture on top. Cover with the other piece of pastry, trim excess and press down to seal around the edge of the pie. Pierce the top of the pie with a knife, and brush the pie top with the beaten egg.

Increase the oven temp to 220•c. Bake for 30 minutes or until pastry is golden. 

Serve with a fresh mixed salad, preferably one brought by the friend that you invited round for pie! 

 

*except for a quick photo of course!