It wouldn’t be a visit to my parent’s home in rural Victoria without returning with a boot load of goodies, and a recent trip did not disappoint – home grown grapes, pears, apples, fig jam, tomato chutney and cucumber pickles. A foodie’s heaven!
Upon being presented with an abundance of glorious home grown granny smith apples I’m hesitant to admit that one of my first thoughts was not one of immense gratitude, but rather “ummm, some of those apples have bumps on them”.
Of course they were of various sizes and shapes and had a few spots and blemishes – they were not grown en masse for our supermarket shelves, all shiny and uniform in their standardised consistency but rather in my parent’s backyard, with no pesticides, water only when the rain gods or summer watering restrictions allowed, but lovingly tendered nonetheless for the future goodness they would yield.
How is it that we have become so finicky and hard to please when it comes to what we eat and why does everything have to look like a still life portrait on our plate? Furthermore, why do we now so often throw out the good because it’s not perfect? Why was my initial thought about those flawed apples that they were unworthy – to be disregarded and sent to the cackle of the chicken coop?
Think about it – once peeled, cored and sliced, would those superficially blemished apples look any different to their perfect cousins? Well, as you will see from the delicious recipe below, the answer is clearly “no”, however we have become so programmed to think that anything less than perfect is not good enough. What a waste!
Thankfully the medical fraternity do not take the same view and having haemochromatosis does not make my blood any less desirable or useful than those without iron overload disorder.
One of the questions I am most commonly asked about haemochromatosis is whether my blood can be re-used by the blood service? The good news is that in most, if not all, countries now the blood collected from a venesection, or phlebotomy depending on which part of the world you inhabit, can be re-used if it meets the normal eligibility criteria.
This is great news for haemochromatosis patients as we can actually “pay it forward”. The Australian Red Cross Blood Service website tells me that one donation can save the lives of up to three people and every week Australia needs more than 27,000 donations to ensure a ready supply of life saving blood for cancer patients, as well as people who have suffered accidents, burns or are undergoing surgery. Personally, I’m an A+ blood type, which is very common, so I also know that my blood is in constant demand. You can check out the blood service’s website here for more information on donating.
In one sense, therefore, haemochromatosis is a feel good disease – not only do I get what I need from the blood service but, in becoming a blood donor for life, I’m also contributing positively to the life of others.
It takes each of us to make a difference for all of us. — Jackie Mutcheson
So, embrace difference this week, do not discard the imperfect and remember that what counts is the goodness within.
Apples are a great fruit for anyone with haemochromatosis. Not only are they high in fibre and provide a number of essential vitamins and minerals, but they are also low in iron (around 0.25mg non heme) and contain polyphenols (or more specifically phenolic acid) which has the ability to inhibit iron absorption.
Apple Crumble is one of my all time favourite desserts – it reminds me of wintry, post netball Saturday nights lying on the carpet watching TV with my parents, and I have cooked it more times than I can remember as an adult. It’s also one of those dishes which most people love and therefore can hold its own as a comfort laden weeknight dessert (or breakfast for that matter!) or as a stand out dinner party dish.
In addition to the obvious beneficial ingredient of apples, this recipe also includes tannin and antioxidant rich cinnamon and iron inhibiting whole oats, almond meal and macadamia nuts (due to their phytate content – if you want to know more about phytates, click here).
World’s Best Imperfect Apple Crumble
(with a nod to Lola Berry for the macadamia crumble top – The Happy Cookbook, Lola Berry, 2015)
Granny Smith Apples (a minimum of 6)
1 cinnamon stick
3 slices of lemon rind
¼ cup water
100g whole oats
100g almond meal
110g macadamia nuts (whole)
15g shredded coconut
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100g coconut sugar
100g unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 180C.
- Peel, core and slice the apples (not too thin) and place in a medium saucepan.
- Add the lemon rind, cinnamon stick and water. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the apples are tender (around 15 mins).
- Remove the cinnamon and lemon rind and transfer the apple to an oven proof dish.
- Mix together the oats, almond meal, nuts, coconut and ground cinnamon in a large bowl.
- Using a vegetable grater, grate the butter onto the dry ingredients and incorporate using your fingers until combined.
- Top the apples with the crumble mixture and place the dish in the oven for 30 minutes, or until golden.
- Allow to cool slightly, then serve with natural yoghurt or ricotta.