How can you make the most of apple-picking season?
Fall is here, and with it comes apple picking season! Learn about the health benefits of this nutritious fruit, and stay tuned for an easy, healthy apple recipe to try this fall.
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Why should I eat apples?
Apples have nutritional value. They are a good source of vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. They also contain potassium, a mineral that supports heart health. Although apples are largely composed of carbs, water, and simple sugars, they are low on the glycemic index. This means they don’t cause a rapid rise in blood sugar after eating. This is partly because apples are rich in fiber, which moderates blood sugar and aids digestion.
Apples are also notable because they are one of the most common sources of boron in a person’s daily diet. Boron is great for bone health because it extends the amount of time vitamin D and estrogen work in your body. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which plays an important role in building strong bones. Estrogen protects against bone loss. By increasing the life of vitamin D and estrogen in our bodies, boron contributes to stronger bones. This means that apples, which are a good source of boron, contribute to strong bones.
Here is the nutrition breakdown for an apple:
1 medium-sized apple, 182g or 3” diameter
(courtesy of the U.S. Department of Agriculture)
Click here for information on another healthy food to include in your diet.
Apple varieties and uses
Have you ever marveled at the large variety of apples the world has to offer? Even within a single grocery store, there can be a wide variety. Not only do apples have different tastes and appearances, they are also suited for different uses. Here is a list of popular apple varieties and their uses.
This apple is a hybrid between Honeycrisp and Fuji. First grown in Indiana, this apple was developed by the Midwest Apple Improvement Association. Its skin is made up of pink and red tones over a yellow background. It is sweet, and it has a dense, crispy texture. It is best for snacking, and it holds up well in storage.
This is a sweet, crisp apple grown in Washington State. It has bright red skin, speckled with little white dots. It is good for snacking. It also has a long shelf life and is slow to brown.
This apple has bright red skin. It is mildly sweet, and it has a crunchy texture. It is best to eat this apple fresh. Eat it whole, or chop it up and put it in a salad.
This apple’s skin consists of reddish stripes on top of a yellow background. It is crisp and sweet. This apple can be eaten fresh, and it is great for making applesauce. You can also use it in baking.
This apple is a muted red. It tastes very sweet, and it has a crunchy texture. Eat it fresh, baked, or as apple sauce. You can also freeze it.
This green apple has a crunchy texture and a tart flavor. It is suited to all kinds of uses: eat it fresh, bake it, freeze it, or use it to make apple sauce.
This apple has red skin with green mixed in. It is crisp, juicy, and sweet. You can eat it fresh, baked, or as apple sauce. You can also freeze it, though other apples are more suitable for freezing.
This yellow-skinned apple is sweet and crisp. Compared to other apples, it browns slowly. It is suitable for snacking, baking, apple sauce making, and freezing.
Tips for choosing the best apple
When you are choosing where to purchase your produce, search your local area for orchards that allow apple picking. A visit to an apple orchard can be a fun outing for you and your family. It also gives you an opportunity to support local farmers. If apple-picking isn’t your thing, there are other ways you can support local farms. Check your grocery store and look for apples that are locally grown; some farms sell to our local grocery stores. Another option is to check your area for any weekend farmers’ markets. You may find fresh-picked apples at your Saturday farmers’ market; if not, check out the town adjacent to you.
Once you’ve chosen a source for your apples, you can focus on choosing the best ones. Here are some tips:
- Whether you are shopping at a local orchard or the produce section of a grocery store, it is best to choose organic apples because organic crops are cultivated without pesticides. These apples tend to be smaller in size.
- Test the firmness of the apple. Firmness may vary by apple variety, but softness usually indicates overripeness or age. Avoid apples that feel too soft.
- Examine the apple, and look for bruises and breaks in the skin. Light bruising may be okay, but be wary of excessive bruising. Bruised fruits are more prone to bacteria or mold growth if they sit for too long. Broken skin is also something to watch out for, as it may be an indication of contamination.
Now you are on your way to enjoying the fruit of the season. Do you want some ideas for how to enjoy your newly-purchased produce? Here is a simple, tasty apple recipe to try this fall. The nice part is that you don’t need to add sugar to have flavor— apples are already full of natural sugar.
Fall Skillet Apples
For a nice side dish, a fall treat, or a topping. I like mixing this in my oatmeal for a fun fall taste.
4 large tart apples (green), cored and sliced in 1/4 slices
1 Tablespoon of olive or your choice of oil
1 teaspoon of cinnamon/or more for your liking
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 teaspoon of cornstarch or arrowroot
1/2 cup of apple juice or cider (*no sugar added)
- Add oil and saute apple slices for 6-7 minutes
- Mix cornstarch and apple juice/cider and set aside
- Add spices, vanilla, and cornstarch mixture to the apples and stir to combine. Continue cooking at a gentle boil for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are fork-tender.
- Let cool for a few minutes as the mixture will thicken.
Pro tip: Need a bit more spice? Add in 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. of ground ginger.
Apples are healthy, delicious snacks that reflect the fall season. Enjoy the crisp taste and reap the benefits of apples, today!
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Joy Grout, the owner of Personalized Fitness For You, has more than 30 years of fitness and health experience, supported by a Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation. She has worked with a variety of populations in clinical and community-based settings, and she possesses various certifications from national fitness organizations. Her diverse set of experiences allows her to focus on your individual needs and design a program specifically for you. Joy offers effective virtual training sessions as well as in-person training sessions in Winona Lake, Indiana. Joy meets women wherever they are in their journey or stage of life, and she helps them dig deep to find their inner strengths and skills.
Epicurious “How to Make the Most of Apple Season”
Healthline “Brains, Bones, and Boron” and “Apples 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits”
Michigan State University “Is bruised produce safe to eat?”
Midwest Apple Improvement Association- evercrispapple.com
Proprietary Variety Management- cosmiccrisp.com
U.S. Department of Agriculture: nutrition information for 1 medium apple
Washington Apple Commission “Apple Varieties”