6 Lighter Ways to Cook and Bake with Apples

Ready your wicker baskets: It’s apple-picking season. If you’re planning a trip to your local orchard, you’re probably already dreaming about the wonderfully sweet, tart and spicy dishes you can make once you get your apples home. Maybe they’re destined for a rustic galette — or maybe you’ll bake them whole with a medley of warming spices. Of course, the butter and brown sugar used in many apple dishes are just as craveable as the fruit itself. But even if you’re using the new season as an opportunity to get back into good eating habits, you don’t have to miss out on this fun autumn pastime. With a few simple modifications, you can make your favorite apple dishes a healthy staple rather than a once-in-a-while indulgence. From firm and tart Granny Smiths to sweet and tender McIntoshes, here are six lighter ways to use your freshly picked apples this fall.

Baked Apples with Oatmeal and Yogurt
When it comes to baking apples whole, Bobby Flay opts for sweet Galas, which he dresses up with fragrant spices and light brown sugar. Top each one with high-fiber oatmeal, low-fat Greek yogurt and a drizzle of apple cider reduction.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Other recipes of its kin might call for heavy cream or half and half, but Ina Garten’s hearty soup relies on little more than McIntosh apples, butternut squash, cider, olive oil and fragrant curry powder. The combination of the sweet apples and the nutty squash yields a well-balanced, lighter-than-average fall soup.

Green Apple-Sourdough Pancakes
The key to turning these dense, apple-packed pancakes into an energy-boosting breakfast is to enjoy them in moderation. And you won’t need more than one or two to curb your hunger, especially if you garnish with a handful of filling pecans. For efficiency’s sake, make the sourdough starter the night before; that way, you can griddle the batter in minutes the next morning.

Pork Chops with Apples and Garlic Smashed Potatoes
These cider-braised pork chops are quick enough for a casual weeknight dinner, but sophisticated enough for an elegant dinner party. The tender red onion and Granny Smith apples combine to form a perfectly balanced, sweet-tart topping for the chops.

Kale and Apple Salad
Add extra crunch to antioxidant-rich kale salad by tossing the leafy greens with matchstick-sized strips of sweet Honeycrisp apple, along with slivered almonds, dates and cheese. A little pecorino goes a long way in giving this nutritious salad a satisfying depth of flavor.

Apple Crisp
Easier than apple pie but every bit as American, crisps are a quick, delicious way to showcase fall fruit. And, by eliminating pie dough from the equation, you’ll save yourself quite a few calories — enough to justify topping the crisps with a cool scoop of vanilla ice cream.

For more creative takes on apples, check out these recipes from our friends:

The Lemon Bowl: Tuna Salad with Apples
Creative Culinary: Boozy Snickerdoodle Cake with Apples
The Fed Up Foodie: Green Apple Butterscotch Macadamia Nut Cookies
Hey Grill Hey: Skillet Bacon Apple Crisp
A Mind “Full” Mom: Salted Caramel Apple Butter
Dishin & Dishes: Chicken with Cider Sauce and Apples
Foodtastic Mom: Ketucky Apple Skillet Cake
Healthy Eats: 6 Lighter Ways to Cook and Bake with Apples
In Jennie’s Kitchen: 9 Amazing Apple Recipes
Mom Loves Baking: Chocolate Turtle Apple Slices
Taste with the Eyes: Red Lentil Penne, Apple, Walnut, Mint, and Gorgonzola Sauce
Swing Eats: Apple Roses (gluten-free)
FN Dish: Kick Off Fall with Food Network’s Favorite 5-Star Apple Desserts