Gravenstein Apple Fair
Sunday my husband and I really enjoyed the annual Gravenstein Apple Fair in Sebastopol, Ca. There were apple dishes everywhere - apple pie, apple cobbler, apple fritters along with baskets full of ripe, delicious, unadulterated Gravenstein apples. Needless to say, except for the basket of apples, none of these dishes were exactly healthy. "But hey, it's a fair" (that's what I heard several people say as they were stuffing deep fried apple fritters covered with powdered sugar into their mouths). Today I want to introduce another apple recipe that will give you all the pleasure of our new crop of apples without the guilt. In fact, you can feel that you are doing something incredibly wonderful for your body and health. This smoothie provides all the health benefits of omega 3 and nutrient rich chia seeds and hemp milk as well as goji berries packed with vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants.
This "super-food", also known as wolfberries, seems to be all the rage. Perhaps it's because it is said to have antioxidant levels, measured in ORAC units (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Scale) many times that of other more popular berries. Or maybe it's because its marketers claim that it is very high in fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C and protein. Traditionally, goji berries have been used in China and Tibet to treat inflammatory conditions and to improve eyesight. They are said to contain high concentrations of carotenoids, like beta carotene and zeaxanthin. Zeaxanthin protects the retina of the eye and decreases the risk of age related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness in the elderly. I could not verify the exact concentrations of some of the nutrients in goji berries as the data was somewhat inconsistent depending on the company selling these pricey jewels. Although I paid around $16 per pound for organic, wild Tibetan Goji berries this morning at Whole Foods, I only use a quarter of a cup in this recipe so it cost very little to get this added goodness. Whether or not we believe all the incredible "hype" around these berries, their dark, rich color certainly indicates a high concentration of phytochemicals and I want to introduce them to you in a simple, cost effective way. The goji berries give this rich and creamy smoothie a very nice flavor and color which complements the apples and cinnamon.
This recipe provides over 3 grams of omega 3 per serving. If you substitute soy milk or other dairy or non-dairy milk products for the hemp milk in this recipe, you will still get around 2.5 grams of omega 3. This fatty acid is said to support cardiovascular health, strengthen your immune system, reduce inflammation and help prevent depression and joint pain. It is needed for proper brain development and is especially important during pregnancy.
Apple Cinnamon Smoothie with Chia Seeds and Goji Berries [serves 2]
2 tablespoons raw, organic chia seeds
4 tablespoons dried goji berries
3/4 cups filtered water
1 1/4 cups Living Harvest Hemp milk (or your favorite dairy or non-dairy milk)
2 medium apples, cored and quartered
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 medium banana
1 cup crushed ice
Soak chia seeds and goji berries in the filtered water and let set for 30 minutes or more. Put the soaked chia mixture, including the soak water, in a high speed VitaMix blender. Add the milk, apples, cinnamon, banana and crushed ice and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 262.5 calories, 7.8 g fat, 1.3 g saturated fat, 0 g cholesterol, 4.3 g protein, 52.3 g carbohydrates, 11.5 g fiber, 3.1 g omega 3 and 4.3 g omega 6 fatty acids.