Easy Baked Apples with Walnuts and Raisins from the AICR

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The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) supports research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk. They interpret the scientific literature and educate the public about those risks. Every other week, the AICR test kitchen publishes a carefully prepared recipe for a dish designed to encourage healthier lifestyle choices among the public.

This week's dish is easy baked apples with walnuts and raisins.

Fall brings an abundance of fresh apples to grocery stores and farmers’ markets, making one dream of delectable apple confections such as apple pie and caramel apples. Baked apples satisfy this dream and promote healthy eating choices. This easy-to-make apple treat has the glorious taste of apple pie studded with crunchy walnuts and sweet raisins.

Apples are an important part of a robust cancer-prevention diet because of their high vitamin C content. High in fiber, particularly pectin fiber, apples help gut bacteria produce compounds to protect colon cells. Apples also are rich in antioxidant phytonutrients including quercetin and epicatechin, which researchers are finding to be promising in preventing cancer.

Part of the rose botanical family, there are hundreds of varieties of apples ranging from Empire and Fuji to McIntosh and Red Delicious. Vibrant shades vary from red, pink, green to golden. Some apples are good eaten raw and others are better suited for cooking. For this recipe, the tart quality of Granny Smith apples works well – although other varieties like Rome Beauty and Cortland also are delicious.

The combination of brown sugar, whole-wheat flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and apple cider creates a thick, delicious, spice-filled sauce. You can use the equivalent amount of almond milk instead of cider for a slightly creamier taste. Walnuts offer beneficial omega-3 fat and dark or golden raisins provide cancer-protective flavonoids and phenolic acids, plus soluble fiber.

These apples can be baked just before serving or prepped the night before by combining everything in a sealable plastic bag and storing in the refrigerator. The next day, gently shake the bag to ensure the apples are well coated, place in a pie dish and bake. Or, you can set your slow cooker to low and let the apples simmer for about 4 hours. Oh, how good the caramelized sweetness of apples will smell.

Not only a dessert, Easy Baked Apples with Walnuts and Raisins are perfect for breakfast. Top with yogurt or granola cereal for a delicious, nutritious start to the day. Served for breakfast, dessert or snack, they are a delightful way to increase your daily servings of fruit.

Easy Baked Apples with Walnuts and Raisins

  • Canola oil cooking spray
  • 3 large Granny Smith apples or any variety baking apple
  • 3 Tbsp. whole-wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3/4-1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup apple cider

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray oven-proof glass pie dish.

Cut apples in half from top to bottom, core and peel. Lay halves flat and cut into medium slices. Place apple slices in large bowl.

In medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sprinkle mixture on apples and gently stir until apples are evenly coated with spices. Gently fold in walnuts and raisins.

Spoon apple mixture into prepared pie dish. Drizzle cider evenly over top.

Bake 50-55 minutes or until apples are tender. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes. Using spatula, carefully turn over apple mixture to get caramelized sauce from bottom of dish. Serve hot or let cool to room temperature, refrigerate and serve cold later.

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 151 calories, 3.5 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 31 g carbohydrate, 2 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 5 mg sodium.

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