Masala Chai Apple Crisp

A new twist on an old favorite. Try replacing your usual Apple Pie with this yummy low-fat (guilt-free) alternative!

Makes 6 servings
Chai spices are the perfect accompaniment to this quintessential American dessert.
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom (preferably from green cardamom pods)
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
4 apples, cored and sliced thinly (2 Pink Ladies and 2 Granny Smiths, preferably)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 cup apple jelly
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
11/2 cups dried oats
Combine all the spices and the sugar together. Place the apple slices in a mixing bowl and toss them with the spices and sugar. Allow this to sit for about 30 minutes.
At this point, the apples will have released some liquid. Drain the juice from the bottom of the mixing bowl into a small saucepan. Over medium heat, reduce the juice until it is about half the original volume. Mix this with the apple cider vinegar, apple jelly, and grated ginger.
Place the apples in a baking dish and spread the apple jelly mixture over them. Top with the dried oats. Bake this at 350 F for 20 minutes.
The Gourmet Touch: Toast each spice individually, whole, for about 1 minute over medium-low heat, then grind each spice into a powder.

Core Concepts: Dried ingredients like sugar and salt pull out liquid from fruits and veggies through a process called maceration. When making a pie or crisp, this is important because it reduces the amount of liquid released by the fruit during baking, keeping the texture of the dessert tight instead of watery.
Per serving (1/6 recipe): calories: 278; fat: 0.8 g; calories from fat: 3%; cholesterol: 0 mg; protein: 4 g; carbohydrates: 70 g; sugar: 49 g; fiber: 5 g; sodium: 1 mg

What's on the menu for Thanksgiving at the Leafy?? (aka what will Mimi eat)

My sister Sally just rang to say hello and talk about her daughter's wedding which was last Saturday. It was a fantastic time in Brooklyn, NY with loads of feasting and fun. In the days before the wedding and over the course of the weekend Sally was concerned that I had food to eat at all of the functions (thanks Sal!) It always amazes me to realize I eat so differently than others, especially friends and family, because I cook for myself and my loved ones in my kitchen or theirs and during those meals, they eat what I eat. I rarely consider the way I eat to be abnormal but when you venture out and stop preparing your own meals, you realize how bizarre and different it is to everyone else. I think this is a crime because for health's sake we should all be eating a primarily plant-based diet and if we were, there would be no reason to ask "what will Mimi eat?".

Thanksgiving and Christmas are really two of the easiest holidays for me to prepare and feed to others without suspicions of any vegan mumbo-jumbo (or vegan "slop" as my brother-in-laws baby girlfriend just called it). Yes, we were out at one of the finest vegan restaurants in NYC and she referred to vegan food as "slop" but that is another story altogether!

These two days are supposed to be the largest feasts of the year. Yet in fact, both dinners are the healthiest, most vegetarian-like meals people eat all year long. Traditionally, these holiday dinners consist of mashed white potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, a bread stuffing, butternut and acorn squash, cranberries, and a variety of green vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, and green beans. For dessert, pumpkin pie ends the feast. That's a cornucopia of starches and vegetables. The turkey served is the leanest of all common meats. The truth is that every other dinner consumed by Westerners all year long is far richer in fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar than is eaten at these two traditional festivals. 

So, the menu here will be much the same as it will be at many homes. YES, we will have a turkey, but if you read this you might not wish to eat it, I won't be! I just make all of the accompaniments low-sodium, fat & animal product free, boosting the veggies and minimizing the desserts. I'll follow this post with a few recipes if you would like to know how to do this.

Oh, and before we signed off from our conversation, Sally asked: " What will you be eating on Thanksgiving?" There you go Sal, you inspired this post!