I absolutely love the Fall with its spectacular colours, the warm days and cool nights, but most of all I love the much anticipated harvest. As a child growing up in rural Nova Scotia we always enjoyed snacking directly from the garden. My brother and I would race to be the first to enjoy whatever had ripened overnight. Oh, the joys of tasting that first sweet raspberry, or finding the biggest carrot! Yes, it may seem like misplaced competitiveness with my older brother, but what was a game to us was ultimately success for my parents since we were eating nutrient dense food without complaint.
My love and respect for fresh food from the garden deepened as I began racing for Canada as a lightweight rower. To stay within my caloric needs I wanted the best possible fuel to give me the highest levels of energy. Using the seasons as my guide I tried to choose food that was as fresh and therefore the most nutrient dense as possible.
In 2010, the World Rowing Championships were being held in New Zealand. Our qualification regatta to earn the right to race was being held in Welland, Ontario during the peak of apple harvest. As I was planning my pre-race (post weigh-in) snack I decided to incorporate the apples that I had just picked the day before. I imagined these fresh little delights as rockets that would power me down the course. So I whipped them into an apple crisp that I knew would be easy to digest and provide me the energy I needed for racing. This apple crisp superseded my expectations, we qualified with the fastest time and had earned our spot on the team. Not wanting to mess with my new found secret weapon, my first mission upon approving in New Zealand was to source a great apple crisp at a local bakery. After beating the streets my hopes dwindled, as no one seemed to carry apple crisp on their menu. Determined to ensure I had my prerace meal I spoke directly to the chef at the hotel where we were staying. I shared my story and asked if it was possible for him to duplicate my recipe for the heats. He agreed! I was so excited, I truly believed that I had found the secret to success, and after winning the heats and semi-final I was convinced of it. The day of the final arrived and as promised the chef had my special crisp waiting for me only this time the entire kitchen was there to greet me and wish me luck in the final. They shared with me that they’d moved a television screen into the kitchen and that they’d be watching the racing live! I smiled as I had succeeded in convincing a group of kiwis to cheer for us Canadians over their own team! Sure enough, the recipe did not fail us, my double partner and I won the race and went home with a shiny gold medal around our necks.
So during the harvest this year I thought it would be fun to share my secret with you, since my days of racing are over, I’ll throw the torch to anyone out there who is looking for an edge. Or even to someone who is just looking for a delicious nutrient dense snack to share with their family.
A guilt-free version of an all-time favourite!
*To make the topping gluten-free, use brown rice flour instead of whole wheat and substitute chopped nuts for oats.
- 12 apples, cored and sliced (peeled, unpeeled or both)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- cup dried currents
- 1 Tbsp whole wheat pastry flour or brown rice flour
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup whole wheat flour or brown rice flour
- ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup maple syrup
- ½ cup canola oil
- Preheat oven to 375°
- To prepare filling, place apples in large bowl. Fold in syrup, cinnamon and currents. Sprinkle on flour and gently fold until combined. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12-inch baking casserole.
- To make topping, use the same mixing bowl and combine oats, flour, nuts, and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, whisk together syrup and oil, add to dry ingredients and mix until crumbly. Spread topping evenly over apples, cover with foil and bake 30 minutes.
- Remove foil and bake an additional 20 minutes or until apples are cooked through. Remove from oven and serve. Serves 8 to 10.
Recipe taken from, CLEAN FOOD, author Terry Walters © 2007