Tag Archives: condiments

Healthy Crockpot Apple Butter

Healthier Apple Butter - no refined sugar! Sweetened with just a few dates!

Healthier Apple Butter – no refined sugar! Sweetened with just a few dates!

Last fall I made apple butter for the first time in my crock pot and it was delicious but it required something crazy like a cup and a half of sugar.  As tasty as it was (and as good as it made the house smell), I really didn’t want to use all that sugar this year so I decided to try to make some using nothing but medjool dates as sweetener.  I also left the peel on the apples to increase the amount of fiber and polyphenols and other good stuff in my apple butter.  It worked out really well!  This for sure is a bit more tart and less sweet than last year’s batch but I’m ok with that!  I used 4 dates in mine and I found it plenty sweet (but John tells me my sweet tooth is overly sensitive) but feel free to use a couple more if you are tentative about going the no refined sugar route.  Also, I used Macintosh apples (because that’s all the Orchard had the day we went apple picking) but using sweeter apples like Fuji, Gala or Honeycrisp could result in a much sweeter butter.

Apple butter is good stuff! It’s great on toast or rice cakes, stirred into oatmeal, dolloped into smoothies or onto vanilla ice cream and it’s even good in savory dishes (try mixing it with dijon mustard & chives as a sauce for chicken or pork) and if you store it in mason jars it freezes really well.

Throw all ingredients in crock pot, cook for 5-8 hours and then puree in a blender.

Throw all ingredients in crock pot, cook for 5-8 hours and then puree in a blender.

10 – 12 medium sized apples, peel left on, cut into chunks
4 – 8 medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup water (optional)
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla extract

Put all ingredients in a 6 qt crock pot, cover and turn heat to low.  Cook for 5-8 hours, stirring occasionally until the apples and dates are completely broken down and start to take on a thick consistency and a caramel color.  Let cool and carefully pour into a blender and blend just for a minute or two to ensure the apple skins are finely pulverized (you’ll be amazed how broken down they get just by cooking in the crock pot for hours).  If for some reason the apple butter seems too liquidy after blending, you can put it back in the crock pot and cook until it reaches a consistency you are happy with – the longer you cook it will reduce more liquid, concentrating the sweetness and flavor. I’m kind of a lazy cook and I don’t want to cook twice so I’m more likely to just keep cooking until it’s as thick as I like – but your call!

Pour into mason jars and refrigerate or freeze until ready to serve.

My batch filled two 16 oz mason jars to the top!

So delicious!

So delicious!

Homemade Dairy Free & Soy Free Sour Cream

Cashew Cream (Dairy Free Sour Cream)

Cashew Cream (Dairy Free Sour Cream)

This is probably the easiest recipe you’ll ever see me post but since it’s becoming a frequently made item in my home so I thought it was worth posting.  We’re mostly dairy free these days, after realizing that both of us had issues with it after an elimination diet (to look for sensitivities).  Since then, I’ve also realized that certain dairy products (as well as wheat) for me lead to binge eating behavior and as someone who has worked really hard to have a healthy relationship with food, I’m not interested in keeping those triggers in my life.

So long story short, cashew cream is a fantastic occasional substitute for sour cream (and it even can stand in partially for making a cream cheese frosting – I shit you not).  You might be wondering why I don’t just go out and buy a dairy free sour cream (there’s plenty out there today).  The reason I don’t go that route is because #1 I like to make things from scratch when I can and #2 fake versions of foods are usually filled with lots of yucky stuff, like extra sugar, extra salt, preservatives and processed soy.  No thanks!

I should warn you, if you’re someone who eats a lot of dairy, you’d probably try this and be like “this tastes nothing like sour cream, she’s nuts!!”.  But if you’ve been off the stuff for a while and just want a little bit of creaminess to dollop on top of your chilli, or to top on your baked potato?  I’ve got you covered!

1 cup raw whole unsalted cashews
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp lemon juice
sea salt to taste

Soak your cashews in water for at least 6-8 hours.  This will soften them so they’ll be super creamy and also remove some of the phytic acid (which interferes with digestion and magnesium, calcium, zinc, and iron absorption).

After soaking, rinse and drain the cashews and then put all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth and creamy.  Scrape down the sides with a spatula if necessary.

Chill for an hour before serving.   The cashew cream will stay good in the fridge for a week but I don’t think it’ll be in there that long!

Stay tuned, in a few days, I’ll be posting a recipe that makes great use of this stuff! Winter comfort food coming right up!

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