For the past few years, the fall months haven’t really felt like fall for me. As someone who lived in Phoenix, “autumn” meant “finally cool enough to open a window!” or “I don’t have to get my workout done early, before the sun melts my face off!”
But I live in Salt Lake City now, which means I get four seasons, and…well, it’s pretty rad.
I’ve been partaking in all the requisite autumn celebrations I’ve missed while living in the desert -Oktoberfest-ing, wearing boots, building bonfires, kicking up leaves — but mostly, I’ve been eating a lot of apples.
I know it sounds weird, but in Phoenix, I longed for a good apple. The desert isn’t the most conductive place for growing this tasty fruit, so every apple I came across was waxy on the outside and mealy on the inside. But in Utah, the apple game is on point. I can’t stop buying them from roadside stands and farmer’s markets, and I definitely can’t stop myself from eating one (or three) on the way home. They’re just so good!
As far as addictions go, this is a pretty healthy one to have. Apples are a great source of fiber, are rich in cancer-fighting phytonutrients, contain enzymes to regulate blood sugar, and can help increase muscle mass. More importantly, they’re hella delicious.
Though most people associate this time of year with pies and caramel-dipped apples, I’m all about baked apples. Now that I have my hands on real, delicious fruits, it seems like a crime to cover the juicy fruits with melted sugar! Instead, I’ve been coring and stuffing my baked apples with a mixture of oats, walnuts, and spices for a baked, tasty treat that really feels like fall. Though many recipes for baked apples call for lots of sugar and butter, I’ve found a healthier (vegan!) alternative in a small dose of brown sugar and a dab of coconut oil.
This recipe is for two baked apples, but it’s easy to double or triple the batch to feed a crowd. And you will have a crowd — no one can resist the smell of baked apples!
This versatile dish works alongside vanilla yogurt for breakfast, as a warm snack after a day of hiking in the mountains, or — my favorite — for dessert, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
- 2 apples suitable for baking, such as Cripps Pink, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, or Granny Smith
- ¼ cups rolled oats
- 2 tablespoons walnuts, finely chopped
- 1½ tablespoons brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon solid coconut oil, divided
- ½ cup water
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Use a knife or melon baller to remove stem and seeds from apple. Do not core the apple entirely; leave about a half-inch of apple flesh from the bottom.
- In a bowl, combine oats, walnuts, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Spoon oat mixture into each apple, packing ingredients down as you go. When full, place a "pat" of coconut oil on top of oat mixture.
- Place apples in glass baking dish. Pour water into bottom of baking dish. Cover loosely with foil.
- Bake, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove foil, bake for additional 20-30 minutes, or until apples are soft and skin is cracked. Serve warm.
Are you an apple aficionado? What’s your favorite healthy way to serve up this fall favorite? And if you have another topping I should try with my baked apples, let me know! —Susan