Healthy Applewood Julep is inspired by my favorite childhood vacation treat from the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. With a fruity flavor and a variety of nutrient-dense ingredients, this recipe is perfect to enjoy with breakfast or as part of a nutritious brunch!
I’m super excited about today’s post because I get to share a recipe with all of you that I created based off of my very favorite childhood vacation treat.
Plus, it’s perfect for the upcoming fall season!
For those of you who don’t know, I live in the Upstate of South Carolina and have lived here my whole life with the exception of a short-term deal living in New York in my mid-twenties. Although I’m planning a move back to the city within the next year, I will always hold a special place in my heart for the South and everything it means to me, including my memories of experiencing true southern culture during my childhood.
See, when I was a child, (years before my family split up), we took trips to the Smokey Mountains every single year. I treasured those trips more than anything as a child. The Tennessee mountains are undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places to see in your life if you haven’t experienced them for yourself. Plus, something about the mountains has always made me feel so peaceful, calm, and close to home.
We’d go shopping and rent a cabin or hotel in the mountains and just spend quality time eating together and seeing the sights. We didn’t have a lot of money when I was little, but my mom and dad always did their best to treat me and my brother on vacations.
Some of the best ways they did this were to take us to unique little places in the mountains such as restaurant, parks, and fun little shops. And being the nerd I am, I always requested a trip to several unique little bookstores that the mountains have; I have been a bookworm and writer since I was a child!
But one of my favorite places to go on our yearly trip was The Apple Barn Cider Mill General Store and its accompanying restaurant, Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant. They are a true haven if you love apples as much as I do and there are apple trees surrounding both the store and the restaurant for miles!
Granted, the food at the restaurant is not healthy, but I fell in love with it way before I became interested in nutrition and when I lived off the Standard American Diet. They did serve fresh fruit at the restaurants (especially apples!), so I guess that counts for something. 🙂 Plus, they have the largest supply of fresh, local, mountain apples you’ve ever seen in your life!
Many of the restaurant’s dishes, entrées, and sides also incorporate apples, apple butter, or apple jelly into them which is the reason for the name of both the general store and the restaurant.
Oddly enough, I don’t ever remember what entrée I ordered from the restaurant despite the fact we went every single year until I was 15 years old, but I do remember the muffins, biscuits, and Applewood Julep that they served. I couldn’t WAIT to get my hands on that drink each year, and if you’ve ever had this drink, you know how amazing it is too.
It’s the sweetest and most uplifting drink I can ever remember having as a child. And the muffins, apple fritters, and biscuits that went along with it—oh, they were so good!
I knew I wanted to recreate the Applewood Julep drink here at The Soulful Spoon because it’s actually VERY easy to make healthy to my pleasant surprise.
See, the original recipe calls for apple juice, pineapple juice, orange juice, the juice of 1/2 a lemon, and that’s it! It’s served over ice and it’s super frosty, sweet, and cold. They garnish the drink at the restaurant with a fresh strawberry (or at least they used to; I haven’t been in years). It’s such a nice treat to enjoy at breakfast and one that goes great with small sides such as muffins.
To be honest, I would have never guessed that the recipe would be so “natural” although I’m sure there is added sugar in the juices they used. So, to recreate this recipe in a healthy way, I’m using whole, frozen fruits instead of processed fruit juice which makes it almost identical to the original recipe but much healthier. That also makes this recipe 100 percent raw and completely unprocessed minus the blending, obviously.
I also didn’t have oranges on hand on hand when I made this recipe, so I’m using strawberries and extra lemon juice instead. Since they garnish the drink with strawberries at the restaurant, I felt this was a fair trade and the extra bit of lemon will add an extra hint of citrus to the drink. If you have oranges on hand, however, then use them; I’ve left instructions in the recipe for both options.
Finally, I blended this recipe in three stages so that it ends up less like sorbet and more like a frosty drink just like the original Applewood Julep; it’s super easy and not difficult at all to do. You can use any apples you want in the recipe; I’m using Granny Smith and Pink Lady because they’re my favorite. Each type of apple will bring a different flavor and sweetness to the end recipe; they’ll also change the color too.
This recipe is much thicker than the original recipe because it uses whole fruit and it’s a different color since I used both red apples and a few strawberries, but it tasted almost the same as the original drink I grew up loving. It was also super satisfying with a light breakfast I had this weekend!
I would have recreated the muffin recipe I loved to have with the Applewood Julep too, but it’s not posted on the Recipe section of the Applewood Restaurant’s website. However, since the restaurant’s muffins contain apples, my Sweet Potato Apple Muffins would make a wonderful option to serve with this drink if you’re looking for a healthy option!
- 1 cup very cold, filtered water
- 3/4 - 1 cup frozen pineapple cubes
- 1 cup fresh apple slices - any variety you like - (I used Granny Smith and Pink Lady apples.)
- The juice from one lemon
- 10 frozen strawberry halves (or the pulp of 1 fresh orange, sliced and frozen)
- Add the water and pineapple to your blender first. Blend until nice and creamy.
- Then add the apple slices and the lemon juice. Blend again.
- Next add the strawberries or orange slices (or feel free to use both!). Blend again.
- Serve into a tall milkshake glass or mason jar and enjoy with a healthy breakfast such as overnight oatmeal or freshly cooked oats, any of my muffin recipes, or sprouted grain toast with fresh apple butter! 🙂
- *This recipe is best made in a high speed blender (such as the Vitamix or Blendtec), but if you don't have one, you may have to use 2 tablespoons more of cold water to help the blending process depending on the type of household blender you have.
- *If you have a Vitamix, use the tamper in the last step to make sure it fully blends together.
Nutritional Benefits of This Recipe:
Apples are a wonderful source of the antioxidant quercetin which helps reduce inflammation, improves allergy symptoms, and improves the quality of our skin. Apples also offer Vitamin C for healthy skin and a healthy immune system. They are also rich in potassium and mood-boosting minerals that reduce stress and ease tension while also lowering high blood pressure. Finally, apples help lower blood sugar levels and cholesterol because they’re rich in a special type of fiber known as pectin.
Pineapple is high in the enzyme bromelain which improves digestion and absorption of nutrients. Pineapple also improves joint pain, reduces inflammation, and can ease the effects of bloating and menstrual pain. It even contains over 100 percent of your daily needs for Vitamin C in just one cup!
Strawberries and oranges are both high in Vitamin C and potassium, and these fruits are both good sources of pectin fiber that help reduce blood sugar levels and levels of high cholesterol.
Lemon is also a great source of Vitamin C, potassium, and enzymes that boost digestion. It is great for skin health, gut health, and heart health since it can help reduce high blood pressure. Lemon is also nearly sugar-free and wonderful if you have blood sugar issues.
Have fun with this recipe and make it your own. It would be a perfect drink to serve on the weekends for something fun, or you could even serve it to guests at a brunch or shower. It’s a recipe hit that everyone will love and it’s super refreshing no matter what season it is!
Plus, since this drink contains all the fiber and vitamins found in real fruit, there’s no need to worry about taking in too much sugar; just keep the serving size as directed and drink this alongside a healthy breakfast, such as oatmeal or my muffin recipes above. 🙂