Michigan Apple Committee Official Blog

This Month, Rachel From “Rachel Cooks” Is Cooking Apple Spice Quinoa Pancakes!


Guest blog from Rachel Gurk of “Rachel Cooks”
apple-quinoa-pancakes-600 (1 of 5)I’m in no rush to get to fall, but one of my favorite things about fall is that it is stereotypically apple season here in Michigan. I love when there is a crisp, cool feeling in the air and we head as a family to the apple orchard to pick apples, drink fresh cider and hot, warm, soft donuts right out of the fryer. It’s one of my all time favorite things to do with my family.

Luckily for us, we can enjoy Michigan apples year-round and the Jonagolds I used for this recipe (in the middle of winter!) were some of the most beautiful apples I have ever laid my eyes on. Not only that, but they were pretty much the perfect apple in my eyes. Crisp but not hard, sweet but still a bit of a tartness, and perfect for these pancakes.

apple-quinoa-pancakes-600 (3 of 5)These pancakes are a phenomenal way to begin your day. They are a twist on my traditional quinoa pancakes (I’m a bit obsessed with quinoa – you can tell by the sheer number of quinoa recipes on my site!).  They are a nutritional power house. The apples lend not only great nutrition but also fabulous flavor. I left the apple peelings on for added flavor and fiber. The apples are teamed up with protein-packed quinoa, whole wheat flour, and flax seed. Naturally, cinnamon and nutmeg are present. The pancakes are sweetened with maple syrup (bonus points for Michigan maple syrup!).

apple-quinoa-pancakes-600 (5 of 5)If you want to make the process even easier – here’s a tip. Buy a bag of quinoa, cook the whole thing, and then freeze it in 2 cup portions. It thaws really quickly at room temperature or in the fridge and then these pancakes come together really quickly. The pancakes themselves freeze great, too. We reheat them in the toaster or the toaster oven and they taste like they are straight off the griddle.


Apple Spice Quinoa Pancakes
Makes 20-24 pancakes
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 5-6 minutes per batch


  • 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoaapple-quinoa-pancakes-600 (4 of 5)
  • 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 4 tablespoons ground flax seed
  • 2 large eggs, plus 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons oil (I use canola)
  • 3/4 cup skim milk
  • 4 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 Michigan Jonagold apples, diced small (3-4 cups)

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together quinoa, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and flax seed. In another medium bowl, whisk together egg, egg white, oil, milk, and syrup. Add egg mixture to flour mixture and whisk to combine. Fold in chopped Michigan apples.

2. Lightly coat a nonstick skillet or griddle with oil and heat over medium to medium-low heat. Drop batter by approximately 1/4 cup portions onto hot skillet. Pat the batter down slightly to flatten (it is a thick batter). Cook for 2-3 minutes (or until bubbles form and stay), flip, and cook for 2-3 more minutes or until golden brown.

3. Serve with butter, more chopped Michigan apples, applesauce, cinnamon or maple syrup.

RachelGurkRachel Gurk is the creator and author of Rachel Cooks, a food blog that features healthy, delicious recipes that will please the whole family and are easy to prepare. Rachel Cooks has been featured on sites including The Huffington Post, Parents.com, Saveur and The Cooking Channel. Rachel lives in Michigan with her husband, son and daughter.


“Abbey the Intern” – Oh, the Endless Possibilities!


Cute kid with 2 applesOne thing I love to do is travel, and the Michigan Apple Committee gave me an awesome opportunity to do just that. Earlier this month, MAC sent me and Theresia, MAC’s office assistant, to Chicago for a weekend to showcase Michigan Apples at the Chicagoland Kids Expo & Fun Fair.

The Expo, which was held from March 8 to March 9, is an annual event for families to enjoy entertainment and learn about kid and family topics, such as nutrition, educational products, apparel, camps, schools, sport teams and more.

I met the 2014 Michigan Apple Queen, Elizabeth Wittenbach, and her family on the first day of the Expo. I was glad to finally meet them as they are some of the nicest people I’ve ever Abbey and Queen Elizabethmet.  The kids were glad to meet Elizabeth, too. Their faces lit up with excitement when they saw the Queen for the first time, and they were even more excited when she sat down to color and interact with them.

That weekend, Theresia and I passed out Michigan Jonagold apples, which were a huge hit! The kids devoured them, and the parents couldn’t believe how fresh and crisp they were. Multiple people (including vendors) approached our booth telling us that they heard about how delicious Michigan Apples were and wanted to try one, too. It was no surprise when we saw familiar faces coming back for seconds.

Queen Elizabeth and Family at Kids tableAdditionally, we set up a small table for the kids to enjoy hands-on activities, such as Michigan Apple coloring books, crayons, pencils, Wikki Stix, temporary tattoos and stickers. We also had a larger table that included recipe cards, brochures and other take-home promotional items for the parents.

Working at the Expo and representing the Michigan Apple Committee was a great learning experience for me. I became comfortable talking with consumers about Michigan Apples, and I even surprised myself with the amount of questions I was able to answer without help. Moreover, I learned how much time and effort goes into planning for an event.Tattooing

I’m thankful to have an internship that has taught me so much and given me so many opportunities to grow. The skills I’ve acquired from interning at MAC will lead me down a path to endless possibilities. Even though all good things must come to an end, I’m eager to see what’s about to begin.

Apples for Breakfast! Author of “The Lemon Bowl” Serves Up Maple Walnut Apple Butter Oatmeal


Apple Butter Maple Oatmeal - The Lemon BowlLiz Della Croce, author of The Lemon Bowl, creates another healthy recipe with Michigan Apples!

As a child growing up in Michigan, we ate oatmeal for breakfast at least several days a week. Warm, hearty and satisfying, it is the perfect blank canvas that can be turned into something magical with just a few extra ingredients and spices.

Now that I have a family of my own, oatmeal makes an appearance most mornings of the week. In fact, I often whip up a big batch of Homemade Instant Oatmeal Mix for my husband to help himself to throughout the week before work. It saves a lot of time and money, plus we get to control the quality of ingredients.

Speaking of ingredients, fruit is one of my favorite ways to add natural sweetness without relying on added sugar. Trust me, my 2 year old has enough energy without it! From blueberries to peaches to bananas and more, oatmeal is a great way to add an extra serving or two of fruit to your day.

After recently creating a delicious batch of Slow Cooker Apple Butter, I decided to add it to oatmeal.  The rich flavor ofOatmeal with Walnut and Apple Butter - The Lemon Bowl slowly cooked apples and cinnamon combined with a drizzle of pure Michigan maple syrup transform plain oats into a breakfast to remember. In fact, my toddler ate 3 bowls himself!  

For an extra boost of protein and omega-3’s, walnuts and flax seed meal are added to the pan before serving. This powerful combination of fiber and protein is the secret to giving your family long lasting energy to get them through the day. 

What is your favorite way to flavor oatmeal? Leave a comment below – we would love to hear from you!


Maple Walnut Apple Butter Oatmeal 

IngredientsMaple Syrup Oatmeal with Apple Butter - The Lemon Bowl

  • 1 ½ cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 ½ cups milk
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons flax seed meal
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup apple butter
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts


1. In a medium sauce pan, combine oats, milk and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low to simmer.

2. While oatmeal is simmering, stir in flax seed meal, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Continue stirring until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in apple butter, maple syrup and chopped walnuts. Heat until warmed through then divide into four bowls to serve.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Serves: 4
  • Calories: 461
  • Fat: 14.8 g
  • Saturated fat: 3 g
  • Trans fat: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 10 mg
  • Sodium: 441 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 77 g
  • Fiber: 13.7 g
  • Protein: 12.4 g 

About-Page-Head-Shot-The-Lemon-Bowl-400x400Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog.  Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband and two sons.

This month, “The Lemon Bowl” is filled with Michigan apples!


Slow-Cooker-Ginger-Spiced-Apple-Butter-The-Lemon-BowlLiz Della Croce, author of The Lemon Bowl, creates a healthy recipe with Michigan Apples.

Ginger spiced apple butter is made by slowly cooking apples until they caramelize and turn a beautiful, deep brown color. Naturally sweetened with no sugar added, spread on pancakes, stir into oatmeal or serve on toast.

If you followed me on any form of social media last year between the months of May and October you probably noticed that I am mildly obsessed with Michigan grown produce.

Between farmers markets, u-pick orchards and various farm stands, my Facebook and Instagram feeds were pretty much filled to the brim with gorgeous, vibrant Michigan grown fruits and vegetables. #SorryImNotSorry


Needless to say, when winter arrives and the ground freezes over, I go into a bit of fresh produce withdrawal. When Michigan Apples surprised me with a giant shipment of Jonagolds, I was beaming from ear to ear. Fresh, crispy, juicy and slightly tart, these apples brought me right back to our apple picking adventures last fall.Apple-Orchard-The-Lemon-Bowl

Since it would take us months to go through the amount of apples they sent us, I decided to whip up a 10 minute bath of Slow Cooker Sugar Free Apple Butter. Yes, SUGAR FREE! The fact is, when you are working with fresh produce you don’t have to add a lot to make it taste delicious. And although I admittedly don’t have a huge sweet tooth, my husband and son devoured this apple butter so I know it passes the sweet tooth test.

You can eat it plain like applesauce but it tastes great spread on pancakes, added to sweeten smoothies or dolloped on top of Greek yogurt. The options are endless.

Your fork is waiting.

Slow Cooker Ginger Spiced Apple Butter {No Sugar Added}

Author: Liz Della Croce | The Lemon Bowl
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Ginger spiced apple butter is made by slowly cooking apples until they caramelize and turn a beautiful, deep brown color. Naturally sweetened with no sugar added, spread on pancakes, stir into oatmeal or serve on toast.

  • 8 large apples – thinly sliced (leave the skin!)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • ½ tablespoon ground ginger
  • ½ tablespoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  1. Place all ingredients in a slow cooker and heat on Low for 8 hours.
  2. Using a handheld immersion blender, gently puree the apples until you reach desired apple butter consistency.
Nutrition Information
  • Serves: 16
  • Serving size: ¼ cup
  • Calories: 44
  • Fat: .3 g
  • Saturated fat: .1 g
  • Unsaturated fat: .2 g
  • Trans fat: 0
  • Carbohydrates: 11.3 g
  • Sugar: 7.1 g
  • Sodium: 0
  • Fiber: 2.4 g
  • Protein: .2 g
  • Cholesterol: 0


Liz Della Croce is the creator and author of The Lemon Bowl, a healthy food blog.  Since 2010, Liz has been creating delicious recipes using real ingredients with an emphasis on seasonality. Liz has appeared live on the TODAY Show and tapes regular cooking segments for her local NBC affiliate station. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband and two sons.

Megan’s Making Broccoli Apple Salad!


Guest post from Megan of “What Megan’s Making

_MG_6885I have got a treat for you today! This broccoli and apple salad is both healthy and delicious.  When the wonderful people at Michigan Apples asked me to make a healthy apple recipe, this broccoli salad immediately came to mind. I made this salad a few weeks ago, thinking it would be a good thing to keep on hand for a few days to encourage me to eat my vegetables. I love nice crunchy salads that are chock full of delicious add-ins, and this salad is no exception. I couldn’t stop eating it!  I actually didn’t think Mike liked broccoli salad so I was planning on this being all for me. Imagine my disappointment once I realized he loved it as well.  

I’ve never put apples in my broccoli salad before, but you can bet I will from now on. They were the perfect addition.  Crunchy and sweet, they contrasted nicely with the crispy broccoli and tangy dressing.  Plus, they added a nice boost of nutrients and I was able to eat my fruits as well as my vegetables. :) I also threw in some sliced almonds and dried cranberries, but you can play around with this recipe and add in whatever you want. I used plain whole milk yogurt in the dressing, which kept the dressing nice and light, but if you want your dressing a little thicker you may want to try plain Greek yogurt instead. Any way you make it, this broccoli apple salad recipe is a keeper!


Broccoli Apple Salad
1 large head of broccoli, cut into small florets
1 medium red apple (suggested: Michigan Jonagold), cut into thin slices
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 large red onion, diced
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Combine the broccoli, apple, cranberries, onion and almonds in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, yogurt, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the broccoli mixture and toss to combine. Refrigerate one hour before serving.

*Note: You may not need all of the dressing. Start with about 3/4 of the dressing, taste, and go from there.

*Recipe adapted from Taste Love and Nourish


A Pennsylvania native, Megan, her husband Mike and their son live in the Grand Rapids area. She blogs about cooking and baking at www.WhatMegansMaking.com and isn’t shy about her love for Michigan apples!


“Abbey the Intern” – Out With the Old, In With the New!


As the holiday season officially ends and the New Year begins, I can’t help but remember how wonderful the year 2013 has been.

First, it’s hard to believe I’ve been an intern here at the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC) for seven months already. I have learned so much and truly feel like a part of the MAC family.  

Second, I know that the year 2013 has been a big year for Michigan Apples, and I am grateful to have been a part of that. It has been a privilege and eye-opening to see all the hard work that goes into Michigan apples, from the moment they are planted to the moment they reach consumers’ hands.

I also admire working with people who don’t just acknowledge their product alone, but who also work hard to make sure that GL_Expoeveryone is properly recognized for their accomplishments (e.g., growers and shippers). For instance, on Wednesday, Dec. 11th, MAC hosted their 11th annual grower luncheon during the Great Lakes Fruit, Vegetable and Farm Market Expo at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Mich., as a way to honor and support the Michigan apple industry. The luncheon was a big success, with a record attendance of 290 people and a record in sponsorships of more than $10,000!

A new Michigan Apple Queen and Court were crowned during the luncheon as well, with Elizabeth Wittenbach, 19, from Belding, Mich., to serve as the 2014 Michigan Apple Queen, and Emily Webster, 21, from Paw Paw, Mich., to serve as her court and First Runner-Up. Keep an eye out for these ladies, since they will be spending the next year traveling to various schools, festivals and events representing the Michigan apple industry.

Additionally, the 17th Annual MAC Cider Contest happened that day. Big congratulations to first place winner Plymouth Orchards and Cider Mill, second place winner Jim Hill of Hill Brothers, and third place winners Jim and Becky Engelsma of Engelsma’s Apple Barn and Cider Mill!

And what better way to end the year than watching the MSU Spartans win the Big Ten Championship game against Ohio State University (34-24) and earning their spot to play in the 100th Rose Bowl against Stanford University? The last time MSU played in the Rose Bowl was in 1988, when they won against University of Southern California (20-17).

Green RosesTo help nourish our beloved Spartans to victory, MAC sent 200 Jonagold apples with a letter of encouragement to MSU’s football team before the big game against Stanford. And since apples are part of the rose family, we saw this as the perfect way to show our support. Thanks to a beautiful play by MSU’s ranked #1 defense, MSU won against Stanford (24-20), ranking the team #3 in the nation — no wonder why MSU coach Mark Dantonio was smiling so much!

All in all, it’s safe to say that 2013 was good to us here at MAC and MSU. Here’s to another prosperous year in 2014! Go green!

“Abbey the Intern” – MSU Autumnfest 2013


Autumnfest_Abbey with MAC posterboardOn Saturday, Nov. 2, I had the privilege of representing Michigan Apples at Michigan State University’s (MSU) 38th Annual Autumnfest event, which is sponsored by MSU’s Department of Agriculture & Livestock. The tailgate was held at the MSU Pavilion, right before the big rivalry game against University of Michigan’s Wolverines (who we beat 29-6, Go Green!). Autumnfest is a place where Spartans can mingle with alumni, friends and clubs, while enjoying great food with some of Michigan’s finest agricultural industries.

During the event, I met new people, learned about new clubs on campus (e.g., I never knew MSU had a rodeo club!), and passed out free Michigan apples. I enjoyed speaking with people about their favorite varieties and the abundant crop we experienced this year. One person even shared with me that their apple tree at home was losing branches because there were too many apples for it to hold! I couldn’t help but smile when I saw the joyful expression in their eyes as they were telling me this story, and how happy they were about the bumper crop.

Autumnfest_applesThe apple varieties I passed out were Cortland, Jonagold, Gala and Fuji. Many people couldn’t believe how big and shiny the Cortland apples were, which is probably why it was the first variety to run out.  The second most popular variety was Gala, then Fuji and Jonagold.

I was proud to be there representing Michigan Apples, and I’m happy to have met so many friendly people who wanted to share their Michigan apple stories with me.

“Abbey the Intern” – Learning the Ins and Outs of the Michigan Apple Industry


Ginger Gold apples on their way to be baggedGetting an internship is critical when wanting to stand out from your competitors. Since I started here at the Michigan Apple Committee (MAC), I have been expanding my knowledge in communication and public relations, as well as learning the skills necessary to succeed in an office (e.g., making deadlines, working with different computer programs, multitasking, etc.).

I remember the day I got the phone call from my supervisor, Gretchen, offering me the internship. Elated, I quickly responded with an “Absolutely!” All of my hard work and long hours at the library were finally starting to pay off. Sure, we have all heard those horror stories about interns fetching coffee, but luckily for me, I had landed myself a position with an organization that truly wants me to succeed.

My first trip to BelleHarvest Sales Inc.

Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, MAC took me on a fieldtrip to BelleHarvest Sales Inc. /Belding Fruit Storage, one of our apple packing and shipping facilities in Belding, Mich. President and General Manager Mike Rothwell showed us around the facility, giving us an in-depth tour of what happens to an apple from the moment it’s picked to the time it reaches the retailer. This experience not only enriched my understanding of the Michigan apple industry, but it increased my appreciation of all the hard work that is put into harvesting and promoting Michigan apples.

BelleHarvest started in the 1950’s when apple production was high. Growers needed one single point of contact to keep quality consistency and uniform packaging. After pulling together their resources and partnering with Michigan State University  researchers, BelleHarvest was born. BelleHarvest is one of the largest fresh apple vendors in the eastern U.S., with more than 1 million apples going through Belding Fruit Storage’s packing line each day.

CA rooms

An interesting fact that I remembered from the tour was learning about the CA (controlled atmosphere) rooms. These chilly, air-tight rooms are vital for apple preservation, and have oxygen levels that are kept between 1-1.5 percent. CA rooms help apples to respire, or “go to sleep”. Apples can be in these rooms for as little as a few weeks (mid-term storage) to as long as a year (long-term storage).

Another interesting thing I learned was that apples are put through a Compac machine, which scans each apple for flaws through pictures, measurements and infrareds (x-rays). I found this particularly fascinating, because I never realized how much work and effort is put into providing consumers with the best looking/tasting Michigan apples!

Having this internship has already taught me so much, and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for me next!


Introducing the 2013 Michigan Apple Queen & Court


Courtney Heeren, 2013 Michigan Apple Queen

Hello, my name is Courtney Heeren and I am truly honored to be representing the industry as the 2013 Michigan Apple Queen.  I am from Grand Rapids, Michigan and I am a junior at Central Michigan University pursuing a degree in Special Education with a focus on Emotional Impairments.  I am a fourth generation apple packer and shipper. My great-grandfather, along with his brother, opened Heeren Brother’s Produce in 1933. However, now it is operated and owned by my father, Dan Heeren, along with his brothers and cousins. The apple industry has always been an essential part of my life. By being the Michigan Apple Queen, it will allow me to give back to an industry that has given me so much.

I had never thought of myself as a pageant girl or even someone who could compete against other girls for this type of role. However, I heard about my father’s cousins kids competing various years throughout my childhood. I had talked about it with my family and decided it would be a tremendous opportunity. I spent days preparing the perfect essay, hours making sure my hair was perfect and the morning completing an interview. I was extremely nervous, but when I got into my interview, I realized that being myself was not something to be nervous about. I was crowned soon after at the luncheon held at the Great Lakes Expo.

I was able to attend the Expo soon after with the first runner up, Kate Sage. We had a blast taking pictures, talking to farmers and various people in the produce industry. My favorite part was tasting all the delicious treats that Michigan has to offer. It was an incredible day filled with fantastic conversations from many wonderful people in the industry. Kate and I were also invited to attend a formal dinner. We were able to watch many deserving individuals receive scholarships and listen to an inspirational speaker. The entire day created an atmosphere of perseverance as this year of struggle comes to a close and we move toward the future.

I cannot wait to fulfill the many duties that are ahead of me. I look forward to attending parades, visiting farmers markets and grocery stores, reading to school children to educate them about apples and the other events that are in store. I am extremely excited to be sharing this opportunity with Kate Sage. I would like to thank the many people who have made this experience and opportunity possible especially the Michigan Apple Committee. I look forward to represent the Michigan Apple Industry for 2013!

Kate Sage, 2013 First Runner-up

Hello, my name is Kate Sage and I am honored to be able to call myself your 2013 Michigan Apple Queen Court. I am from Morrice Michigan, but am currently living in Eau Claire where I am attending my second year at Southwestern Michigan College and working on Tree-Mendus Fruit farm and u-pick owned by my grandfather Herb Teichman. I love working at TMF because I get to be apart of production as well as work with customers who visit our farm.

I am excited for this coming year and being able to promote such a wonderful industry. This is a great opportunity to visit all aspects of the apple industry and broaden my knowledge base of apples and their journey from the tree to the consumer. At the same time I will be able to educate others and create more awareness and understanding of the industry as a whole. This past year’s crop loss has been a hard one for the apple industry, however 2013 is just around the corner and I am looking forward to a great comeback!

Megan’s Making a Festive Holiday Salad


Hello, I’m Megan from What Megan’s Making and I’m so glad to be sharing a holiday apple recipe with you! I love cooking and baking with apples around the holidays, and it’s usually something decadent and sugary! This time, however, I thought I’d do something a little different and give you an apple recipe for something fresh and healthy.

I made this apple, goat cheese and walnut salad for Thanksgiving, and it was such a big hit that I think I’ll make it again for Christmas! With the apples, dried cherries, and cranberry vinaigrette, it’s very seasonably appropriate, and yet it tastes nice and light. The salad is full of flavor, and it’s certainly a nice change from some of the more unhealthy things we like to eat this time of year.  I like to serve the dressing on the side, and feel free to change up some of the ingredients to suit your tastes. I love dried cherries, but dried cranberries would be great as well, and blue cheese makes a great substitute for the goat cheese.  Enjoy!

Apple, Goat Cheese, and Walnut Salad with Cranberry Vinaigrette


8 cups torn mixed salad greens

2 medium red apples diced

½ cup crumbled goat cheese

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

¼ cup sliced green onions


2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp cranberry juice concentrate

1 Tbsp white wine vinegar

Dash of salt and pepper

In a salad bowl, toss together the salad ingredients.  To make the dressing, place the ingredients in a container that seals well, and shake to combine. Serve the dressing alongside the salad.

*Note:  I’d rather have too much dressing than not enough, so I usually double the dressing recipe when making this salad.

A Pennsylvania native, Megan lives with her husband Mike in the Grand Rapids area. She blogs about cooking and baking at www.WhatMegansMaking.com and isn’t shy about her love for Michigan apples!