What We’re Cooking With Now: Gala Apples
Looking for adventure in the kitchen? Our monthly What We're Cooking with Now post features a fresh produce ingredient, explains how to find the market's finest, and includes a recipe to try at home.
Why: Although apples are relatively low in vitamins compared to other produce, they are made of 86% water and are rich in the simple sugars fructose, sucrose, and glucose. Despite 13g of carbs and roughly 10g of sugar per apple, their glycemic index is low because of their high fiber content. A single apple provides 17% RDI of fiber. Apples also are a decent source of vitamin C and potassium, though the main health benefits are their rich profile of antioxidants which aid in lowering cholesterol, and avoiding the spike in blood sugar usually caused by ingesting refined sugars. Thus apples are a part of a healthy diet, can aid in wait loss and hydration, and a source of easily digestible sugars.
Shopping Tip: Buy apples that are unblemished and have deep, rich colors without bruising. They should never feel soft or mushy. If you press the skin of an apple, it should be firm enough to not make an indent. Gala apples have a naturally pleasant scent. The fresher the apple, the more noticeable its scent will be. The coloration of gala apples can indicate how ripe they were when they were picked. If the apple is a pale pink color, it can indicate that it was picked early and may have less flavor. If it is a deeper red color, it can indicate the apple ripened on the tree for an extended period of time or may have been left in the store for a longer amount of time. Darker colored gala apples that are fresh have a more intense flavor. Apples naturally have specks or scuffs on them from nature. This is not necessarily a sign of a bad apple. If buying a bag of apples, just one apple that is over ripe can cause the others to spoil faster as well. As apples ripen, they naturally emit ethylene gas, which without proper air flow, can signal the fruit around it to over-ripen as well. The same is true for mold on apples, thus proving the statement “one bad apple spoils the whole bunch.”
Preparation: Leave the skins on to preserve the nutrients. Always buy organic apples, as apples are consistently a part of the dirty dozen, which are the 12 types of produce with the highest concentration of pesticides. Even with organic apples, it is important to wash them thoroughly before eating, especially if buying single apples which other grocery store customers may have touched. Once an apple is cut it begins to oxidize (turn brown.) Acidity can help slow the oxidation process. If you cut apple slices you can help preserve them by placing them in water with a mild acid, such as lemon juice, lime juice, or diluted vinegar.
Recipe: Baked Oatmeal Apples
4 gala apples
1 cup of raw oats
2 cups of almond milk
1 tablespoon of cinnamon plus more for dusting
Pinch of salt
¼ cup of chopped pecans
1 tablespoon of honey plus more for drizzle
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
Cut the top ¼” off the apple and using a melon baller, scoop out the inside, leaving a cup made of apple skin and a small amount of flesh. Cut the core out of the innards, and dice up the usable parts of the inside of the apple.
Boil the almond milk on the stove in a small pan with the diced apple innards. Add the cinnamon, 1T honey, and salt. While the oatmeal cooks, brush the inside of the apples with coconut oil and drizzle with honey. It is ok if some honey goes on the outside of the apple as it will caramelize in the oven.
Once the oatmeal is mostly cooked, (it will be a little bit soupy), fill the hollowed out apples with the oatmeal, then bake in a 325 degree oven for 15 minutes or until the apples are soft. Remove them from the oven and top with chopped pecans and dried cranberries, dust with more cinnamon, and serve warm.
You can stuff the apples with chilled oatmeal and refrigerate for 1-2 days, just be sure to squeeze lemon juice into the apple and cover it tightly to prevent oxidization.