Have you heard about yumPower? It’s a healthy eating initiative spearheaded by health care provider Health Partners. Maybe you’ve seen the Andrew Zimmern tv spots:
During February, yumPower offered a School Challenge at my kids’ school to encourage eating more fruits and vegetables. Each kid received a kit that included fruit & veggie tracking charts, healthy eating tips, and recipe cards with ways that kids can get involved in the kitchen. Very cool!
The first recipe that caught my eye was apple chips. I’ve often eyeballed the bags of apple chips at the grocery store and dismissed buying them because they seemed expensive, but for some reason I’ve never attempted making apple chips at home. Now yumPower was nudging us to JUST DO IT. So we did.
It turns out that apple chips are super easy to make – just thinly slice 4 large apples, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar (I liked 2 T. sugar+1 tsp. cinnamon) and bake on parchment-lined baking sheets in a 225 degree oven for about 2 hours, flipping the slices over midway through the cooking time so that they dry evenly. I love that you can make these chips in the oven without needing to use a dehydrator.
You can choose to core or not core the apples. I used a chef’s knife to slice mine, but use a mandoline if you have one because you’ll be able to make more even slices and the thinner you slice the apples, the crispier they’ll get.
My biggest question was: which apple variety to use? There are many varieties at stores this time of year but some are more expensive than others and some are better for baking than others. Our family typically rotates between Fuji, Gala, and Braeburn for fresh eating. It turns out that these varieties, along with Granny Smith, are all good for baking as well.
All of these apples are fairly crisp. The difference is in the flavor – more specifically, the level of sweetness vs. tartness. A primer:
Fuji – Sweet
Gala – Slightly sweet
Braeburn – Slightly tart
Granny Smith – Tart
It was time to experiment. We first made the yumPower recipe using their original cinnamon-sugar proportions (2 T. sugar, 2 tsp. cinn.) and Braeburn apples, then made a 2nd batch using Fuji and Granny Smith apples, using less cinnamon and more sugar.
In the end, there was little difference in flavor between apple varieties. As for the cinnamon-sugar ratio, I preferred less cinnamon and more sugar than the original recipe. But that’s just me; you should do your own experiments to see what you prefer. Maybe you’ll be stronger than me and decide to leave out the sugar altogether! That’ll be my next experiment…
Well, onto the big question: would my kids eat these chips? It turned out, no, they will not. My daughter ate one chip, then said she didn’t like it. My son took one nibble and immediately spit it out. That’s OK; all the more for me. I’ll just have to offer them another 10 times and the kids will crack, I’m sure of it.
Undeterred, I moved on to the recipe for overnight apple cinnamon oatmeal. Another super easy and healthy option, this recipe is quick to assemble, cooks overnight while you sleep, and most magically of all, is ready to eat when you wake up. What could be better than that?
Well, even better is when your kids will eat it. My daughter requests this for breakfast now. It’s a keeper!
I’d recommend using Granny Smith apples for this recipe because I think the flavor stands up better to the long cooking time. I also tweaked the recipe’s liquid amounts because I felt the original recipe was too dry.
Topped with some chopped pecans and perhaps some fresh apples or pears, this breakfast will give you serious fuel for your day.
Thanks for the kitchen inspiration, yumPower!
- 2-4 apples (to yield about 3 cups of chopped apples)
- 1 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups fat-free milk
- ½ tsp. cinnamon
- 2 T. brown sugar
- 1 T. ground flaxseed
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 1 T. butter, cut into 5-6 pieces (optional)
- Core and peel the apples, then cut them into ½ inch pieces.
- Combine all ingredients in a slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
- Eat as is, or add your choice of toppings: chopped nuts, chopped fresh apples or pears, berries, bananas, honey, or almond butter.
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
- To reheat: combine 1 cup of cooked oatmeal with ⅓ cup milk; microwave on high for 1 minute and stir; microwave for 1 more minute or until hot.