If you are anything like me, you blinked and it is November, right? Right—and yikes! Time is flying, whether we want it to or not, but we can still savor the season’s blessings: pumpkin spice lattes, having an excuse to live out our flannel-lumberjack fantasies, Thanksgiving, and the trees sporting the most magnificent shades of crimson and burnt orange. It is also the time of year, where we need to start thinking about what we are going to do to wow friends and family during the holiday season. After all, are you really celebrating if you don’t make something special?
If you are not in the know, it is a foodie fact that applesauce has become a game-changing ingredient when it comes to making healthier, vegan, gluten-free, low fat versions of food we enjoy. To be frank, however, the sweet, juicy flavor that applesauce adds is so enjoyable that it doesn’t even need to be healthy. Sometimes, you just use applesauce because it tastes great and that is reason enough. Applesauce is a catch-all ingredient that can act as a sweetener, oil-, butter-, or egg-replacer, or general secret ingredient to supercharge a dish. Sound good? We did some searching and found nine creative ways to have fun with applesauce this year. Please enjoy.
During the lead up to a big celebration, it is really hard not to overeat. After all, you wake up early, cook and/or travel and have way too much time before you get to the big meal of the day. Thus, I have recently taken to eating something light but satisfying like granola or energy bars. Over-the-counter energy bars, however, can get expensive and they just aren’t natural, so it is always better to make them from scratch. That sounds hard, right? Wrong. The Fitchen has these raw, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free bars that are the perfect snack for you and your family. The recipe is packed full of nutty pistachio, almond, cashew, as well as sunflower and flax seeds, so it is will be beyond satisfying and only a little sweet from the applesauce. Just be sure to store them in the freezer as raw bars need a little help staying stiff! Get the recipe.
Didn’t we just talk about granola as a healthy pre-holiday snack? Well, Two Healthy Kitchens has an easy granola recipe that is low in oil and sugar thanks to—you guessed it—applesauce. For any of you out there struggling to get your kids safely away from processed food and sugar, this is an excellent transition food. You can make it with them to get them used to the look and ingredients and then get rid of sugary cereals all together. Get the recipe.
Now, for a little savory.
Glaze anything and you are starting off with an excellent foundation for deliciousness. A stir-fry is also a great veggie option for any holiday table. However, many stir-fry recipes call for sugar. Um, no thank you! Averie Cooks has a great recipe that allows you to omit sugar altogether. So, yes, please. Just add more applesauce if you need more of a sweet fix. This 15-minute, tangy, refreshing stir-fry is a great vegetarian dish that is sweet enough for kids and tasty enough for the sophisticated aka adults. Get the recipe.
Now that we’ve been good, let’s be bad.
All holidays are incomplete without macaroni and cheese, right? Well, at least it will be after you have tried this recipe. Just imagine this thick, creamy, salty, spiced, and slightly sweet version. Using both gruyere and cheddar will make most taste buds weak in the knees, not to mention highlight the sweetness of the meat sausage cooked in applesauce. Get the recipe.
Besides your traditional turkey and ham, your holiday table can definitely always use some ribs. However, a lot of BBQ sauce has a lot of unneeded sugar. Solution: Paleo Leap has a spicy-sweet marinade that uses applesauce instead of sugar and can double as a sauce to pour on top before serving. It is a juicy, savory, primal take on a family favorite that will surely be a huge hit. Get the recipe.
Now, let’s get to the sweets. As a butter, sugar, and egg substitute, we would be crazy not to give you applesauce dessert ideas!
Chocolate makes most things better in my book, so let’s venture over there. Ever try a vegan brownie and hate it? Well, usually it’s because they’re too dry or hard. However, this recipe promises to transform that and delivers. The applesauce replaces the eggs, which helps to bind the brownies, and the vegetable oil keeps the brownies nice and moist. Get our Vegan Brownies recipe.
If fall had a flavor, a spice cake would be it. Nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, clove, pecans, brown sugar, and applesauce give the cake a moist spiced caramel flavor that is balanced by the icing of the gods—cream cheese. This slightly more savory option is perfect for people who like cakes that aren’t just sugar and icing. Get the recipe.
Now, I will die for nothing, but I would do a scandalous thing or two for a couple slices of this cake. The key to carrot cake is keeping it moist, so adding applesauce to the batter achieves just that. Couple it with carrot, pecan, coconut and, of course, cream cheese icing. Be wise (or naughty) and make one for yourself and one for sharing. Get the recipe.
When the holiday meal is just too much and you cannot imagine eating anything more, you can always have a sip of something, right? This guilty pleasure smoothie gives you all the creaminess of the cheesecake with notes of apple and cinnamon without overfilling you. Yay! You can indulge once more! Get the recipe.
Related Video: 3 Tricks for the Best Homemade Applesauce Ever