Healthy Apple – The Health Benefits Of Apples
Oh the healthy apple! Sweet and delicious, apples are one of my favorite fruits. They are versatile, portable, inexpensive, and unlike a lot of other fruit, they store well. They also have quite a few surprising health benefits. There’s good reason why we have the saying “An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away”. Let’s look at some of the ways your health can benefit from eating apples regularly.
Apples Can Help You Lose Weight Safely
Apples make for a great snack that will help you lose weight. They are low in calories with only about 90 calories for a medium apple. This humble little fruit is also packed full of fiber and it includes a lot of water. Both of these help you stay fuller longer. Start having one or two apples a day, preferably before your main meals and see if you don’t start to eat less overall and start losing pounds.
Apples Can Lower Your Risk For Heart Disease
The fiber in apples is soluble fiber. This is a great substance that will help lower cholesterol. It works the same way that bowl of oatmeal you have for breakfast per doctor’s orders. In fact, add some chopped apple and snack on another apple in the afternoon for best results.
Apples May Be One Key For Reducing Your Risk For Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
People who eat apples on a regular basis, have a lower risk for developing diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Part of that is due to the fact that the fiber in apples keeps us full longer and we’re less likely to gain weight – a major risk factor for both of these medical issues.
The other part is phytonutrients that we don’t quite completely understand. Yet, antioxidants and other nutrients in apples seem to have a positive effect on our body and how it processes food.
Apples Boost Your Immune System
Apples are packed with vitamin C which as you know helps boost your immune system and fight off infection. That’s why you’re told to take vitamin C or drink orange juice when you feel a cold coming on. As it turns out, apples are vitamin C power houses. Eat one per day during cold and flu season to give your immune system that extra boost to make it through without getting sick.
Apples Reduce Risks for Certain Cancers (antioxidants and soluble fiber)
Apples may even help you prevent cancer. That’s pretty amazing for one little humble fruit. Apples like many other fresh fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants. Those little compounds attach themselves and neutralize cancer causing free radicals. The soluble fiber in apples helps keep your digestive system in order, possibly preventing the dangerous colon cancer.
Apples For Weight Loss
Did you know that research indicates that losing even as low as five to ten percent of the extra weight you carry can result in improvements of health such as reductions of your risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Losing weight isn’t easy. We spend hundreds of dollars on special food, magic pills, and expensive exercise equipment. We look for that magical food that will keep us full longer without adding extra calories so we can burn off unwanted body fat.
—> The solution we’ve all been looking for may be quite simple and inexpensive – eat more apples.
Give this a try and see how it works for you. Twenty minutes before you sit down for one of your main meals, eat a small to medium sized apple. For best results, you want to leave the skin on since it contains a lot of the fiber. Just eat the apple, then wait and go about preparing your main meal.
By eating the apple before your main meal and leaving a little time in between the two, you’re starting to fill your stomach with a low calorie food and you’re giving your body time to realize that there’s food in your stomach. By the time you’re ready to sit down for your main meal, you’re not nearly as hungry as you were twenty
minutes ago. In fact, you may not be hungry at all anymore.
This is important because it will keep you from overeating. It gives you the will power to stop eating when you’re satisfied. You end up eating a lot less and save quite a few more calories than the 90 or so contained in the apple you just ate. And since that apple was packed with lots of water and fiber, it will help keep you full longer.
Of course the fact that you’re eating more fresh fruit doesn’t hurt either. Adding two to three apples per day to your meal plan is a good start towards those five servings of fruits and veggies we should all be getting.
You can start by eating an apple while you’re preparing dinner. Notice how different it makes you feel and how much less you start to eat at night. Then add another apple before breakfast and lunch. Before you know it you start to make better choices and eat smaller portions. It won’t take long before those better eating habits start to show results on the scale. That in turn will give you more energy, encourage you to move more and get in better shape. Who knew that a couple of apples per day may be just the weight loss aid you needed to move those scales in the right direction?
Want Crispier Apples?
Always store apples in the refrigerator at 32 degrees!
Salted-Caramel Apple Dip Appetizer
This easy appetizer recipe can be ready in about 5 minutes if you purchase the salted caramel sauce. However, many ready-made varieties contain artificial preservatives, flavorings, and high-fructose corn syrup. Making your own homemade caramel sauce may take a little extra time, but the results are well worth the effort.
TIP: When making caramel sauce, pay careful attention as the color deepens from clear to amber. If you allow it to cook too long, the sauce can become too dark and will have an unpleasant, almost “burnt” taste to it. At that point, the only thing you can do is start over.
Crisp green and red apples, cut into wedges to serve
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 (8 oz.) block cream cheese, softened
Salted caramel sauce* (recipe below or use your favorite prepared caramel sauce)
2/3 cups pecans, chopped
Salted Caramel Sauce:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon fleur de sel salt
Preheat oven to lowest setting.
In a glass bowl, toss sliced apple wedges with fresh lemon juice to prevent browning. Set aside.
To prepare the salted caramel sauce, warm the heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. (The goal is to slightly warm the cream because cold dairy product can curdle when added to hot liquids).
Add the sugar and water to a heavy-bottomed oven-safe saucepan and stir to combine. Set spoon aside and do not stir the sugar mixture again.
Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. If sugar crystals remain on the sides of the pan, gently brush them back down with a moistened silicon baking brush.
Continue boiling until the mixture turns a nice amber color. If a dark spot forms on one side due to uneven heating, lift the pan and gently swirl until the color is even again. Return pan to the burner and reduce heat.
Slowly whisk in the warmed cream until thoroughly incorporated. Be very careful while doing so because the extremely hot sugar mixture will bubble up when the cooler cream is added.
Remove from heat and add butter and salt. Stir with a clean spoon until butter is totally incorporated into the mixture. Do not reuse the same spoon from earlier because reintroducing sugar crystals to the pan can cause your caramel sauce to crystalize as it cools.
Place saucepan into pre-heated oven until ready to use.
To assemble the dip, place block of softened cream cheese on a serving plate. Drizzle with caramel sauce and top with chopped pecans. Serve with crispy sliced apples and additional caramel sauce for dipping.
For a more decorative presentation, shape the block of cream cheese into a circle before topping with a liberal amount of caramel sauce. Cover caramel-coated cream cheese circle entirely with chopped pecans, then arrange apple wedges around the cheese to form an edible “flower.” The excess caramel sauce on the plate will help hold the apple slices in place.
How To Store Apples
One of my favorite things about fall is that apples are in season. While you can certainly get them year around at your local grocery store, fall is when they really come into their own. You can find the tastiest, freshest apples from September through November and you can find some great deal – particularly when you buy local or grow your own. The problem then is of course how to best store all those apples once you get them home. Here are some tips and ideas to help you make them last.
Start by checking every single apple for bruising or rot. A single rotting apple stored with the rest will cause all your apples to ripen, and then over-ripen quickly. Only healthy apples that don’t have nicks or bruises and aren’t too ripe yet should be stored. Sort out the rest and use them for eating, baking, and cooking with right away. You can also preserve those apples by turning them into apple sauce or apple pie filling and canning or freezing the finished product as needed.
Sort your apples by variety, and then by size. Larger apples will go bad faster than others and different apple varieties have different shelf lives. You want to be able to eat and use the apples that will go bad faster first. Keep the smaller apples of long lasting varieties for last and you’ll have fresh and delicious apples well into winter and even early spring. Tart, thick-skinned apples usually last the longest. Keep that in mind as you pick different apple varieties.
Don’t store your apples in plastic. Instead choose crates or baskets that allow the fruit to breath. Apples emit ethylene, a gas that helps ripen fruit. You want the air to flow around your apples and allow excess ethylene to escape otherwise your apples will ripen and rot much faster. You may have heard of this principle in action when you put an apple in a brown bag with green bananas to encourage them to ripen faster. If you’re storing apples, you want to slow down that ripening process.
Store the crates or baskets of apples in a dark, cool place. Basements are great, provided they are dry and get good air flow. Your pantry is another good option. Store your apples away from onions and potatoes for best results. If you are only storing a small amount of apples, the crisper drawer in your fridge is another good option.
Let’s Talk Apple Varieties
When you head to your local apple orchard, or even a well-stocked grocery store, you’ll find all sorts of different and interesting apple varieties. Some are perfect for eating as is, while others lend themselves to baking, cooking with, making apple sauce and the likes. Of course some varieties store better than others. Here’s a quick overview of some of the more common varieties of apples.
This is one of the most popular apples around and for good reason. They are perfect for eating raw and hold up well in pies and crisps. You may want to add a little extra sugar or honey to balance out the tart flavor of these green apples.
This is another apple that’s best eaten fresh from the tree and one of the oldest apple varieties. They don’t hold up well to baking, but make delicious apple sauce.
A very round and solid red apple that is one of the best for baking. Making an apple pie? Pick a delicious firm Red Rome.
Crisp and juicy and ready for harvest in mid-September. Bite into one and hear the crisp snap.
Crispin’s are large apples with a yellow-green skin. With their sweet flavor, these crisp yet juicy apples are perfect for baking pies and making apple sauce.
Empires are a cross between McIntosh and Red Delicious. This is a great apple that works for just about anything including baking. They are also delicious freeze well.
Gala apples are great for eating and to make apple sauce. Don’t try to bake with these apples. They tend to fall apart when you cook them.
These apples keep their shape well during baking, making them perfect for pies. They are also delicious eating apples that store well.
This is a fairly new apple variety that’s crisp and juicy. As you bite into these apples you’ll notice a light honey flavor. Probably one of our favorite apple varieties.
This is a very old apple variety. Ida Reds keep their shape during baking and even freeze well. Perfect for using them for baking and in apple sauce.
These apples are a blend of Jonathan and Golden Delicious apples. They are best eaten fresh or used in apple sauce.
Jonathan apples are anther variety that’s perfect for baking pies and cakes. They hold their shape well and have a nice crisp flavor.
Like the McIntosh apples, this is another variety that’s best used for eating.
This is a firm but sweet apple that holds up well in baking and makes a great addition to your apple sauce as well.
Give these different apple varieties a try and find your own favorites for eating, storing, baking, and cooking. Of course you can mix and match, particularly when you’re making pie fillings or apple sauce.
3 Fun Ways To Cook And Bake With Apples
Fall is apple time. You can find all sorts of delicious varieties in your local stores, farmers markets, or even fresh from the orchard. With this overabundance of these delicious fruits, let’s talk about some fun ways to cook and bake with apples.
- 1 pound of apples
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of salt
- 2/3 cup of milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp. oil plus oil for frying
- Optional: Cinnamon Sugar
Start by peeling, coring, and chopping your apples. Set them aside.
Heat the oil for frying to about 375F.
Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Whisk the milk, eggs and 1 tbsp. of oil in a smaller bowl until well combined. Pour this wet mixture into the large bowl and mix until your batter is well combined. Fold in the apple pieces.
Drop the apple batter into the hot oil by the spoonful and fry until golden brown. Don’t overcrowd the pot and give the oil a chance to heat back up between batches. Remove the fritters and drain them on a plate lined with paper towels. Toss in the cinnamon sugar as soon as the fritters are cool enough to handle and enjoy while warm.
- 4 large apples
- 1/2 cup of brown sugar
- 4 tbsp. butter
- 2 tsp cinnamon
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Wash your apples, and using a melon baller scoop out the core of the apples from the top, creating a whole. Be careful not to scoop all the way to the bottom. You don’t want your filling to leak.
Gently spoon two tbsps. of brown sugar in each apple, top with 1 tbsp. of butter and sprinkle with cinnamon. Place the filled apples into a shallow baking dish.
Bake for 15 minutes or until the apples are tender. The sugar and butter will melt together, and start to caramelize. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving.
APPLES AND PORK CHOPS
- 6 pork chops
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 apples
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
- 1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Melt the butter in an oven-proof skillet. A cast iron pan works really well for this. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.
In the meantime, peel, core, and slice the apples. Lay them on top of and around the pork chops in the pan. Combine the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the apples.
Cover everything with foil and bake for 90 minutes.