Noor H. Salem, contributing columnist
It's almost the winter season, and caramel apples, apple cider, apple donuts, and many more apple-full treats are now greeting us at super market doors. It's also the season of apple picking, leading many out to the apple orchards with their friends and family. While it's exciting to make a trip to the orchard and pick apples with your two-year-old, or watch as apple cider is pressed before your eyes, beware of the scrumptious smell of baked goods. Yes, lines of excited people fill the orchards, waiting to grab some fresh apple and cinnamon donuts. While making a trip out myself last week, I've observed the donut making area. The donuts rained a ton of oil, as they were removed from the deep fryer. Atop that, many of these donuts are made using enriched bleached flour, highly refined sugar and sweeteners, and other ingredients you'd never expect. They may smell so delicious, especially after walking in the café from the outdoor cold. However, do yourself a favor and skip the baked goods. Yes, many orchids carry other options, like apple pie, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and pastries. However, the majority of these are full of bleached flour, hydrogenated fats, refined sweeteners, and other additives and preservatives with adverse health effects. I personally enjoy the cider while skipping the donuts. Next time you head to the apple orchard and have leftover apples, try this apple cake recipe. Even better, make this apple cake and take it on your next family trip to the orchard!
My all-time favorite part of this recipe is the ginger. It gives such a mouthwatering flavor kick, without overpowering the apple taste whatsoever. I add in cinnamon and fenugreek for both taste and health benefits, but forthrightly don't like them overriding the ginger. If you happen to skim through my book, Sunnah Superfoods, you will quickly recognize how often I talk about gingerroot. The myriad of benefits this plant food contains is simply astonishing. From aiding in coughs to preventing and curing nausea, ginger is simply remarkable. It's mentioned in both the Qur'an and sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh). Ginger helps you digest food better, aids in decreasing and prevent cramps, cleanses the blood, carries anti-fungal properties, and soothes sore throats. I advise that you consume ginger both while sick and healthy, for it prevents sickness and quickens recovery when you're feeling down. Try consuming more ginger tea, and adding fresh ginger to both your meals and homemade desserts.
Butter (organic and grass-fed when accessible) is coming back as a health food amongst holistic doctors and practitioners. It's one of the remarkable sunnah superfoods I discuss preciously in my book, and I recommend you choose it over genetically engineered and highly processed vegetable or corn oils. Pure butter has been proven to aid satiety, maintaining thyroid health, building bone density, and more. It also contains CLA, which modern research has proven in preventing cancer. Going for man-made fats like margarine, soybean oil, corn oil, and other lab-invented fat spreads is not the best choice for your long term health. These oils and spreads have been proven to cause cancer, heart health issues, food intolerance issues, and so much more. It's frankly one of the most important advice I give to my clients and friends: get these out of your kitchen. Go for butter and other natural fats; they're made in nature. I cover more information regarding the butter myth and healthy fats in my book. This apple cake recipe is soft and moist because of the butter, bursting it in flavor while increasing the likelihood of satiety and satisfaction after consumption. What's not to like about that?
Serving recommendation: I tried this with my family and it was a big hit, and I assume you'd enjoy it just as much. As soon as the apple cake is finished from the oven, slice into individual servings, and top it with a scoop of organic pure vanilla bean ice cream.
1 stick organic salted butter
1 cup organic cane sugar or coconut palm sugar
2 organic pasture-raised eggs
1 ¼ cup organic unbleached flour (I love using King Arthur's)
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon, ground
3 teaspoons ginger, ground (you can use fresh ginger; grated)
½ teaspoon fenugreek spice (optional)
½ cup raw walnuts
½ cup dried cranberries (or golden raisins)
2 fresh apples, chopped into ½ inch cubes
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Set aside 1/3 cup of the chopped apples.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar using a hand mixer until it's nice and fluffy.
4. Add the eggs, beat just until it's mixed.
5. Using a spatula, stir in the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and fenugreek spice.
6. Fold in the walnuts, cranberries, and apples.
7. Scoop into the baking pan, and even out the batter. Add 1/3 cup of chopped apples in the center.
8. Bake for 35-40 minutes; enjoy!
Noor H. Salem is an author, speaker, and Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, from Michigan. Noor works with clients in better understanding their bodies and healing with natural foods through her wellness practice, Holistic Noortrition. She presents various workshops, school lectures, group coaching classes, and community lectures on the topic of holistic health. Noor recently published her book, SUNNAH SUPERFOODS, a culmination of life-changing recipes and remedies, with a foreword by Dr. Waleed Basyouni. Her book consists of prophetic hadith, modern research, and delicious recipes, and is in the process of being translated into other languages.