An Apple (Pie) a Day..

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Apple Pie is an iconic American dessert.  And in my family, it was a regular.  I have quite a few childhood memories that include making and eating apple pie with my family. It was always around for holidays, made every year for my Dad’s birthday [because it was his favorite], and was enjoyed after most Sunday night dinners.  

Making the pies, at least when I was younger, was a family affair.  I remember my Dad sitting at our kitchen table running apples through a hand-cranked apple peeler and watching the thin strips of skin drop to the floor.  These were my apple strings were favorite part, I always loved eating the long ropes of apple skin while watching him crank away.

While Dad was peeling the apples, my Mom would begin making the homemade pie crust using her Mom’s recipe [obviously, because in our family, we just don’t do store-bought pie crust].  I remember her carefully rolling out the dough so it wouldn’t tear and crimping it perfectly around the edge of the pie pan, creating perfect edges with ease.  Once the apples were peeled and cut, she’d mix the apples in with the sugar and cinnamon and pile them high into the crust, neatly topping everything with a buttery-rich crumb topping.  In our family, crumb topping was the only way to enjoy apple pie.  Not only did you NOT have to roll out two pie crusts but you got that extra crunch & warmth from the topping that made eating apple pie that much more comforting.

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My mom would bake the apple pie an hour or so before dinner so by the time our meal was complete, we’d be able to enjoy warm apple pie – which is the only way an apple pie should be enjoyed, warm & fresh out of the oven.  In fact, my Aunt Val didn’t even realize apple pie was served cold until she was in her 20’s.  Some may say she was considered spoiled but I’d save she was privileges for never having to eat cold apple pie [yuck!]

Most people love enjoying a slice of apple pie topped with vanilla ice cream, and in my family, we enjoyed that once in a while but our standard was to accompany apple pie was with a few slices of sharp cheddar cheese on the side.  It might sound strange, maybe even a bit “Polak” but apples & cheese are a common pair and the creaminess of the cheese and its slight bite paired perfectly with the sweet-tartness of the apple pie.  My Grandma Hellert would be the to initially make the cheese request and at times, she’d simply show up with blocks of cheese whenever she knew apple pie was on the menu.

Although I have fond memories of apple pie from my childhood, my current apple pie indulgence is limited to visits home or in this past Christmas’ instance, my Mom’s visit to Austin. And honestly, I’m fine indulging in it every few years but in between these homemade treats, I still enjoy the flavors of apple pie by mixing up an Apple Pie Protein Smoothie – the healthified apple pie!

This smoothie recipe is something I came up with years later, after first enjoying an Apple Pie Milkshake during my 3rd grade class’ Apple Day celebration.  The original recipe had applesauce, cinnamon, milk, and of course, ice cream.  Mine on the other hand has fresh apples & applesauce, spices, almond milk & vanilla protein powder. It’s a slimmed down version of the milkshake but still delivers all the flavors of Mom’s apple pie without the fat, calories, and post-indulgence guilt.  It’s great for breakfast, a mid-afternoon snack or even a late night dessert!

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Apple Pie Protein Smoothie
Makes 1 smoothie

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almond milk, vanilla or original [I use unsweetened]
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 apple finely diced* [I prefer Fuji or Empire but I’ve also used Granny Smith for some extra tartness]
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder [I use about 40 grams]
  • 6-8 ice cubes

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Directions:
Place everything in the blender beginning with the top of the ingredient list and working you way down.

Add additional ice cubes as needed to acquire your desired thickness.
Pour into a glass, sprinkle with cinnamon & enjoy!

*Note: Sometimes, I only add half of the apple to the smoothie and choose to stir in the rest to the smoothie after blending. Obviously, you can’t drink the smoothie but I enjoy eating it with a spoon, kind of like a soup smoothie!

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This smoothie requires a spoon!

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