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Celebrating National Apple Month

 

If you’ve been trying to think up new ways to enjoy your “five a day” quota of fruits and vegetables that nutritionists say is optimal for good health, experiment with applesauce, dried apples, and apple juice, all of which can be added into your daily “virtuous foods” list.

By Joanne Eglash

So just how popular are apples?  Consider such common sayings as:

  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
  • Hes the apple of my eyes.
  • Shes such an apple polisher.
  • Take an apple to your teacher on the first day of school.
  • Celebrate America: bake an apple pie.

You have to admit: we know our apples! Our nation has been celebrating the glory of apples since 1904, when National Apple Week was born.  In 1996, National Apple Week became National Apple Month, which starts in September and continues through November.

If youre looking for a reason to crunch into a fresh Golden Delicious or Granny Smith apple, youll appreciate the results of research conducted by food scientists at Cornell University. They discovered that antioxidants in fresh apples can inhibit human liver and colon cancer cell growth.  In addition, a recent study revealed that apples may also help to reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Experiment with the Many Varieties

Of the many varieties of apples, the following rank among our nations favorites:

  • Red Delicious: Sweet and crunchy, these taste sensations are great for snacks. Slip a small one into a childs school lunch or enjoy a healthy dessert by cutting a large one into slices and serving with reduced-fat cheese.
  • McIntosh: The juicy white interior pleases many a palate when it comes to snacks.  Cut up and add to a fruit salad or experiment with baking up in your favorite apple pie recipe.
  • Golden Delicious: Call them the yoga practitioners of the apple world: they have a reputation for being mellow.  Their white flesh makes these sweet spheres suited to salads and baking as well as snacks.
  • Galas: The gallant Gala apple is a multi-colored pleasure: orange, yellow, pink, and red, these fruits are crunchy and fragrant. Perfect for snacking or try slicing over a mixed-lettuce salad, then sprinkling on a few diced pecans.
  • Granny Smith: If you like tart, almost sour apples, youll love these green treats. Juicy and crisp, theyre perfect for baking or snacking.
  • Jonathan: Spicy and juicy, these apples are nicely suited to snacks as well as baking.
  • Braeburn: One of the richest-tasting apples, these firm fruits smell fabulous and are well-suited to snacks as well as baking.  Try combining with Granny Smith for a special twist on the traditional apple pie.
  • Fuji: These apples are often exceptionally large and sweet.  Because they hold their shape when baked in the oven, theyre an ideal baking apple.  Be sure to core them and remove all seeds before baking. For best results, do not core a complete tunnel: leave a small amount of apple at the bottom.  Try mixing up raisins, butter, spices such as ginger and cinnamon, and brown sugar or honey, pouring into the hole in the cored apple, then baking until the apple is soft.  Depending on your oven and the size of the apple, you will only need to bake it for about 12 to 18 minutes at 350 degrees.  For a variation, use chopped walnuts or pecans rather than raisins, or delight a child by substituting chocolate chips and eliminating the spices.
  • Rome:  Although sweeter than Fuji apples, they are also suitable for baking and hold their shape well.  For those who like a milder apple, theyre an excellent choice for snacks.
  • Jonagold: Is it sweet? Or tart and tangy?  You decide by biting into one of these juicy, taste-sensation treats!
  • Pink Lady: Tangy almost to the point of tartness, these attractive, firm apples are perfectly suited to snacking.  For an attractive fruit and cheese platter, slice and serve with assorted grapes, pineapple rings, and whole grain crackers topped with thin slices of Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese.
  • Cameo: Crunchy and sweet, these fruit make a healthy between-meal snack. Try peeling and coring them, then slicing the apples into thin wedges. Spread peanut butter on whole wheat bread, arrange the apple slices over the peanut butter, and turn an ordinary lunch into a gourmet delight. Have a sweet tooth? Spread a teaspoon of real maple syrup or honey over the apple wedges for a delicious finishing touch. 

Healthy Treats To Try

If youve been trying to think up new ways to enjoy your five a day quota of fruits and vegetables that nutritionists say is optimal for good health, experiment with applesauce, dried apples, and apple juice, all of which can be added into your daily virtuous foods list. For example, try treating your taste buds to these fruity favorites:

  • Applesauce: Mix plain, unsweetened applesauce with cinnamon and a dash of ginger. Stir in a teaspoon of brown sugar or, if youre watching your weight, mix in your choice of artificial sweetener, such as Equal.  This spicy treat can be used to jazz up peanut butter on toast or to turn a carton of plain yogurt into a healthy dessert.  Want to try something different? Dip thin pretzel sticks into this mixture for a taste sensation!
  • Apple cider: Heat up apple cider, pour it into mugs, and add cinnamon stick stirrers into each mug.  Serve with fresh doughnuts or ginger cookies, and your family and friends will savor the flavor and fragrance of fall!
  • Dried apples: Have a favorite muffin recipe into which you usually stir raisins? Cut up dried apples, add a dash of cinnamon, and youll have created a new favorite!  If your family relies on traditionally cooked old-fashioned oatmeal to fortify them on the coldest winter days, try slicing up dried apples and stirring into the oatmeal as it cooks for a memorable flavor.  Got a sweet lover in the crowd? Top with a tablespoon of real maple syrup!
  • Apple juice: If youre trying to persuade a child (or yourself!) to substitute juice for sugary soda pop, mix one-half cup of apple juice with one-half cup of bubbling soda water or club soda.  Pour into a glass, and place a wedge of lime on the side for an attractive edge. 

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