Cooked Apple Pre-Breakfast

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photography: William & Susan Brinson

from What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen (copyright Rizzoli)

How do you start your day in terms of nourishment? Do you drink a glass of warm water with lemon juice or a cup of coffee or skip breakfast all together?

The famous Ayurvedic remedy of warm water with lemon juice first thing in the morning turns out to be not so Ayurvedic, after all. Lemons are quite acidic and sharp, and lemon water on an empty stomach is not recommended for someone with acidic digestion or blood. Too much water in the morning for someone experiencing weak, sluggish digestion will weaken one’s digestive fire even more.

Here is another way for you to start your day: with a cooked apple.

Single foods eaten at the right time can have the most profound effect on our health. When I first heard about the Cooked Apple from my teacher, Vaidya Mishra, I was skeptical—is it really so important to eat it first thing in the morning? Why cooked and not raw? After trying it a few times I loved it so much that to date, stewing an apple is part of my morning pre-breakfast ritual.

This is the easiest, fastest recipe in my book. Yet its benefits put to shame the most extravagant culinary creations in the world. I change my cooking class recipes seasonally, but I include Cooked Apple in every class handout. I am thrilled when students come back and tell me about their morning apple experience. So here is my challenge for you: if you are a beginner in the kitchen, start with this recipe—it will build your confidence. If you don’t have time to cook, make this recipe anyway—it takes only a minute to prep and you can shower while it’s cooking—it won’t interfere with your rushed schedule. If you want to create lasting family memories for your kids, make them Cooked Apple—they will always remember waking up to the heavenly apple aroma.

Try this recipe and see how it works for you. Remember that the key is to eat it first thing in the morning, as close to the time you get up as possible.

Serves 1 Prep: 1 minute Cook: 5 minutes Gluten free; Dairy free

½ cup water

2 whole cloves

1 medium apple, preferably a sweeter variety such as Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Opal, or Pink Lady

For Fiery digestion: Make as it is or substitute a pear for the apple.

For Earthy digestion: Add a 1-inch piece cinnamon stick in Step 1.

  1. Start boiling the water and cloves in a small saucepan. In the meantime, peel, core, and chop the apple into bite-size pieces. If you don’t have time to peel it, at least cut the apple into 4 pieces and remove the core.
  1. Add the apple pieces to the hot water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the apple is soft and translucent but not mushy.


  1. Drain (you can reserve the liquid if you like—see Note), let it cool a little, and eat first thing in the morning.


  • You can eat this every day, no matter how you’re feeling. Of course, there may be mornings when you don’t feel like eating Cooked Apple; when that happens, don’t!
  • You may drink the cooking liquid as tea, add it to your oatmeal, or simply discard it.
  • If you didn’t peel the apple, discard the peels while eating it. Peels are hard to digest in the morning.
  • With their warming and digestive qualities, cloves open the circulatory channels in the body without overheating it.
  • Why cooked and not raw? During the six to eight hours of sleep we generally get, the metabolic fire of digestion in the stomach goes low, into a slumber mode, and in the morning it needs to be refueled again to full flame. Say you want to rekindle the embers of a bonfire: you will first feed it small twigs, and once ablaze, add logs of wood. Similarly, in the morning we have to reignite our slumbering fire of digestion with lighter, easy-to-digest foods such as a stewed apple and eat heavier foods such as grains, meat, eggs, yogurt, and raw fruit later, when our digestion is burning at its optimal strength. For most of us, late morning or afternoon is a better time for enjoying a raw apple.
  • For small children, after cooking, remove the cloves, puree the apple, and feed it warm to the child. If possible, wait for two hours until your next breast-feeding to avoid reactions from the digestive incompatibility of apple and breast milk. Of course, if your child gets hungry, you can breast-feed her or him within less than two hours.
  • Do not eat Cooked Apple if you have blood sugar issues.

An Apple a Day . . . More Benefits of Stewed Apple Pre-Breakfast

  • Serves as a gentle daily cleanse for the digestive system
  • Supports regularity
  • Strengthens digestion
  • Lowers acidity and excessive hunger
  • Optimizes dietary pH balancing
  • Boosts immunity to prevent most colds and flus
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10 replies
  1. Mina Sharma
    Mina Sharma says:

    Dear Divya, thank you for sharing this amazing recipe – my husband and I have become firm converts to the cooked apple each morning, it has truly made such a difference! We can’t do without it now, and were inspired to buy your book – it’s not an exaggeration to say it’s changed to way we eat and we are all the better for it! I warmly thank you for giving us to such an amazing and revolutionary insight into food.

    • Divya Alter
      Divya Alter says:

      I’m so glad to hear, Mina. Thank you for sharing and for your kind words. I’m just passing on the knowledge I receive from my teachers 🙂

  2. Elizabeth Dunsby
    Elizabeth Dunsby says:

    Divya, this is wonderful! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and passion! I made these apples today for myself and my husband. They are truly fantastic! We try to follow Ayurveda but lapse here and there. This is great pre oatmeal to spark the fire 🙂 thanks again so much for sharing!

  3. Cathleen Simmons
    Cathleen Simmons says:

    Hi Divya, thank you for this recipe! Do you might have a suggestion for pre-breakfast for those having blood sugar issues? Thank you!

    • Divya Alter
      Divya Alter says:

      Hi Cathleen, causes for blood sugar issues vary, so diet has to be adjusted individually. It would be best to consult with specialist medical and Ayurvedic doctors.

  4. Ashley Hansen
    Ashley Hansen says:

    This sounds yummy and interesting. How long after eating the apple should I eat breakfast? I’m assuming I shouldn’t eat the apple in my oatmeal.

    • Divya Alter
      Divya Alter says:

      Hi Ashley, try eating the cooked apple very soon after you wake up, and breakfast about 20 minutes or later. The idea is that the apple will help start up your digestion and calm down high acidity for those who are prone to it.
      When in hurry, you can add a chopped apple to your oatmeal (cook in water, not milk)–add a cinnamon stick, cardamom pods and a couple of cloves to it–it will be so yummy!


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