Chunky Caramel-Apple Pumpkin Spice Dip and the Health Benefits of Cloves

This is for all of my friends who asked for this Chunky Caramel-Apple Pumpkin Spice Dip recipe after I posted on Facebook last night. I made one mistake on my Facebook post though – this dip doesn’t have 80 calories a serving, it only has 52 calories a serving! This pumpkin apple spice dip is the BEST dip I’ve ever made. It’s so good that it doesn’t even need to be eaten as a dip, you can just eat it by the spoonful, which I have to admit, I did.

We had friends over last night while we watched the Steelers playoff game and I made this amazing dip as an appetizer. I liked it so much, that when my husband brought out the Apple Brown Betty pie that he bought from Fresh Market, I opted for a spoonful of this dip instead.

Did I mention that not only does this dip taste amazing, but it is chockfull of good-for-you ingredients, including apples, pumpkin, cinnamon and cloves? All for only has 52 calories a serving. I have to give Hungry Girl credit for this amazing recipe. If you haven’t heard of Hungry Girl, go to www.hungry-girl.com and sign up for her newsletter – she has the most amazing healthy versions of typically calorie-laden foods.

I want to share the recipe with you, but first I wanted to talk a little about the health benefits of cloves. Cloves made the top 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth list for their medicinal properties. Cloves are the unopened pink flower buds of the evergreen clove tree. They resemble little nails and their name is actually derived from the Latin word clavus, which means nail. Cloves have been consumed in Asia for more than 2,000 years. Back in 200 BC Chinese men would keep cloves in their mouths to keep their breath fresh when courting women. In Asian medicine cloves are thought to be among the spices that promote energy circulation and increase in metabolic rate.

Cloves are best known for their antiseptic and anesthetic properties. The next time you have a toothache try putting a little dab of clove oil on your gums. The pain dissipates almost immediately and clove oil works better than any over-the-counter product I’ve found. You will also notice clove oil in some over-the-counter sore throat sprays and mouth washes.

Cloves contain significant amounts of an active component called eugenol, which is known to help kill bacteria and viruses. Eugenol is also an anti-inflammatory and contains a variety of flavonoids, kaempferol and rhamnetin, which also contribute to cloves’ anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Cloves are also an excellent source of manganese, fiber, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids.

So when you eat this dip you’ll know that you are not only getting the amazing antioxidant power of apples, the potassium and fiber punch from pumpkin, blood sugar stabilizing cinnamon, but also the metabolic boost of cloves. All of that in a Super bowl party snack? Try out this recipe and please post back on this blog and let me know what you think. I can’t wait to hear if you love it as much as I do!

Chunky Caramel-Apple Pumpkin Spice Dip (recipe from Hungry Girl 200 under 200 cookbook)

Ingredients

  • One 8-ounce container fat-free cool whip
  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • 1 small box sugar-free fat-free instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 cups chopped apples
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda
  • 2 teaspoons fat-free caramel dip
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves

Instructions

  1. Place apples in bowl with ¼ cup water. Microwave for 2 minutes. When cool enough to handle, drain water.
  2. Place ½ cup cold water in small saucepan. Add Splenda, cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ½ teaspoon vanilla, and mix thoroughly.
  3. Bring saucepan to medium-high heat, and then add caramel dip. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick, hot and bubbly, about 5 minutes. Then add apples and stir until mixed. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
  4. Meanwhile, mix cinnamon and cloves and remaining vanilla extract into the fat-free cool whip.
  5. In a large bowl, combine sugar-free, fat-free vanilla pudding with the pumpkin and stir well. Fold in the cool whip until completely blended. Refrigerate.
  6. Once the caramel apples are cold, stir them into the pumpkin mixture.
  7. Serve with sliced apples or cinnamon rice cakes.

Five ways to get your apple a day

I hope you were able to read my blog post yesterday on the Ten Reasons to Get Your Apple a Day, which provides research and information on the multitude of health benefits of apples. For the first time since launching this blog, I’m following up with a two-part series on apples because they are so healthy, delicious and versatile. You already know why you should eat apples, but I’m going to show you five fun ways to eat an apple a day without getting bored! 

It was fun for me to come up with these apple recipes, because I had 12 pounds of apples at my disposal. I took the kids to Windy Hill Apple Orchard on Sunday to pick our own apples and they had so much fun my son even said “This is the best day of my life!” Um….We just got back from a trip to Disney, so I was a little surprised by his enthusiasm. I’m glad he had fun, but I could have saved a lot of money on Disney and just taken him to the orchard instead. 

It was fun for the kids because they got to pick their own apples off of the tree, feed the chickens, drink homemade apple cider and even play with baby pigs running around the orchard. Picking your own fruit not only is a great learning experience for kids to understand where their food really comes from, but it also helps support local farms. You also know that your fruit is fresh and hasn’t been sitting in a shipment truck for weeks. Which I guess makes me a locavore, which basically just means that I try to eat locally grown fruits and vegetables as much as possible. If you are interested in how others are embracing the locavore lifestyle, check out the Diary of a Locavore blog

To find a local apple orchard, visit Pick Your Own. This site not only lists pick your own farms across the country, but also tells you when fruits are in season, provides tips on home canning and great recipes. 

Speaking of recipes, I’ve got five great apple recipes for you. This weekend go out and pick your own apples at your local orchard and give one of these recipes a try. Let me know how you like it and share your recipes and tips here. I look forward to hearing from you! 

Apple Crisp

Not very creative, I know, but delicious! I made this apple crisp yesterday, using an old family favorite, but lightened up. You will see that there is no butter or oil in this recipe. With healthy apples, fiber filled oats and heart-healthy walnuts, this dessert can actually be enjoyed as a healthy breakfast also! 

Stacy’s light apple crisp

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup old fashioned oats
  • 2 Tbsp sugar-free applesauce
  • 5 apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (divided)
  • ½ tsp nutmeg (divided) 

Instructions

Mix the first 4 ingredients and 1 tsp of cinnamon and ¼ tsp nutmeg in a small bowl. Set aside. In a large bowl toss the apple slices with the sugar, lemon juice, 1 tsp cinnamon and ¼ tsp nutmeg. Spray non-fat cooking spray in a 2-qt. baking dish and add the apples. Top with oat mixture. Bake at 375 for 30 minutes.

Apple Pie Dip  

Dip Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cups peeled, cored, and diced apple
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoons brown sugar Splenda
  • 2 teaspoons apricot preserves (sugar-free will also work)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon  

Chip Ingredients

  • 5 (6-inch) flour tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar  

Instructions 

  1. Combine all the dip ingredients in a bowl, then cover and refrigerate the mixture until chilled.
  2. Brush the tortillas with butter, then cut them into wedges.
  3. Arrange the wedges on a greased baking sheet, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar, and bake at 350º F until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let them cool before serving. Serves 4 to 6. 

Apple Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups whole-wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar or Splenda
  • 1 cup peeled, shredded apple
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free applesauce
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 cup walnuts or pecans  

Instructions

Mix the first 6 ingredients together in a bowl, then add all the other ingredients and stir unil combined. Spoon batter into a greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

After-School Apple Butterflies (from Family Fun Magazine)

Ingredients

  • Apple
  • Carrot
  • Peanut Butter

Instructions

Cut the apple into slices and simply make little apple “sandwiches” by spreading peanut butter on an apple slice and top with another apple. Place the carrot strip down the middle and the apple slices on either side of the carrot to form a butterfly shape. Voila! A healthy and cute afterschool snack! 

Healthy Waldorf Salad

Ingredients

  • 2 Apples (chopped)
  • 1 Tbsp raisins
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • ½ cup cubed celery
  • 1 Tbsp orange juice
  • 2/3 cup nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1 Tbsp honey 

Instructions

Combine apples, raisins, walnuts and celery then drizzle with the orange juice. Toss with the greek yogurt and honey to add sweetness. Refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.

Healthy After-School Snacks

If your kids are anything like mine, they raid the pantry as soon as they walk in the door and inevitably find the one unhealthy treat in the house. I’ve discovered that the best way to attack the after-school munchies is to have a healthy snack waiting for them when they get home with a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat. This is also a great time of day to sneak in a few vegetables, because kids are more likely to try something new when they are hungry.

 Try out one of these healthy options for a yummy solution to the after school energy slump:

 Turkey rollups

  • 1 slice of turkey
  • Baby spinach leaves
  • 2 percent cheese stick

 Place the spinach and cheese stick on a piece of turkey and roll up. 

English Muffin Pizza

  • 1 whole wheat English Muffin
  • 1 Tbsp pizza sauce
  • 2 Tbsp 2% mozzarella cheese
  •  Broccoli florets 

Top the English muffin with the pizza sauce, cheese and a few broccoli florets. Heat in the toaster oven or under the broiler until the cheese melts. 

Ants on a log 

Spread peanut butter or cream cheese on celery and top with a few raisins.

 Shrek Smoothie

  • 1 scoop whey protein powder (Cookies & Cream works well)
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 1 cup nonfat or 1% milk
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1 tsp vanilla

 Place all ingredients into a blender with lots of ice and pulse until blended. I promise that your kids will not taste the spinach. Do you have a favorite after-school snack that you serve your kids? Or, do you have a favorite afternoon snack for yourself that keeps the munchies at bay until dinnertime? Please share!