The search goes on…and on…for a protein-packed apple crisp

“Keep on searchin’
This search goes on…and on…”
– Metallica

That about sums up the last 24 hours. Lots of searching. First for the perfect mix of mint, chocolate and healthy herbs in my morning cup of tea. Then I sought the right balance of apple-y goodness and oats + protein in some kind of stove top crisp thing.

Have I mentioned that I think obsessively about food? Usually my thoughts revolve around whatever culinary confection has caught my fancy.

From red curry over apples + chicken to peanut sauce drenched sweet potatoes (with chicken), I can safely classify my food obsession as off beat. What can I say? I have certain standards that must be maintained. Everything I cook has to adhere to the following rules:

  1. It must contain a healthy carb (gluten free of course)
  2. It must be between 390-415 calories per serving
  3. If  it’s savory- it must contain kale and/or spinach (whichever is available) + french cut string beans (because I love them)
  4. If it’s sweet, it must contain at least one serving of fruit in every serving
  5. It must contain at least 30 grams of protein per serving

Rigorously adhering to the above rules means that I have to get creative. I can’t just grab a recipe from the internet and cook it because absolutely none of them meet those standards. Most recipes online contain very little protein and more carbs than anyone needs. Also, they are double the calories that I should be eating for one meal.

So I search. I enter my ideas into’s recipe calculator and then I play around with it and massage it until it meets my nutritional needs. Then I cook it. Sometimes I get lucky and it turns out good. Sometimes I fail miserably. Failure to create the taste I sought in these kitchen experiments produces a kind of obsession in me.

I rethink, retweak, do more research and then try again and again and again and again… I keep trying until a new idea upstages the obsession or I’m sick of eating the trails. Sometimes I succeed. More often than not since I’ve been at this for awhile.

Today’s trial leads me back to the usual problem. When you change a recipe so much that that it barely resembles the original one found online, you can’t exactly follow their method anymore. So I need to invent my own.

Without further ado, here’s what I tried.

The idea: apple crisp with protein.
The challenge: make it with 30 grams of protein per serving
(Previous attempts proved that using protein powders introduced flavors that just didn’t work.)
Solution: Use Unflavored whey powder (made by Isopure though I think there are others. That’s just the one I had on hand).

The recipe (serves 2):

  • 2.00 Large Macintosh Apples sliced
  • 2.00 scoopfuls Isopure Unflavored Protein Powder (26 grams protein per scoopful for 110 calories; best bang for your calories that I have found)
  • 1.00 cup, Food Emporium Natural Granola (110 calories for 1/3 cup, lowest calorie for largest serving I could find)
  • 1 tablespoon Lemon juice
  • 1 cup water (Use more if you need it)
  • Spices: Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves (whatever you prefer; I tend to drown my apples in cinnamon and add a dash of cloves and nutmeg but that might not be for you. So add it to taste)
  • Flavorings: dash of almond extract
  • Stevia – I think I used one or two tablespoons. (Add this to taste. Everybody has their own threshold for sweets. Be judicious since the granola is already sweet and you can’t subtract out sweetness later if you add too much. Note: I don’t recommend grabbing the container and flinging its contents into the bowl sans measuring implement which is what I did. I got lucky though that I accidentally added the right amount but you might not.)

Method used for this trial:

I mixed the protein powder, spices, Almond extract, stevia, lemon juice and water in a bowl and whisked them good. (Unflavored protein powder mixes better in water than flavored ones for some reason.) Toss the sliced apples into the bowl and mix. Dump the whole thing in a nonstick skillet or some other deep bottomed pot.

I gave my skillet a quick spritz of cooking spray because I tend to walk away and forget to stir my creations. If you’re more attentive or possess superior nonstick cookware, feel free to dispense with that.

Turn the heat up to medium-ish. You want it to bubble a little but not spit at you. Since your stove is different than mine, I leave you to work out what setting that is. You want to be able to stir this without burning your hand.

Stir constantly. Don’t get distracted and walk away. You want the apples to soften. The water will boil away making a thick paste. when the apples are soft enough to suit you, turn off the heat and stir in the granola. Divide and conquer –er– put the individual servings in containers.

If you need more spice or sweetness, add stevia or spices to a bit of water and work them into the mixture.

Hopefully you cut up both apples before making this. If you, like me, got to the end of the recipe and found a lonely apple still in it’s grocery bag, fear not. You can cut it up, saute it really fast in a saucepan with water, lemon juice, spices and stevia and then add it in. No harm done.

This creation actually tasted close to the apple crisps I grew up on. Obviously my mom’s version had way more sugar and no protein powder, but the goal was met. I have a high protein meal that tastes like apple crisp. Its 410 calories per serving. There’s one whole apple in each serving and it smells like apple crisp. I’m happy with that.

Tomorrow’s culinary challenge: Peachy Protein Pudding.

Will it succeed or fail? Who the hell knows. Tune in tomorrow to find out.

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