Healthy apple recipes will help you make the most of the fall apple harvest so that you can be sure to get your apple a day. Be sure to include the apple peels so that you can get all the health benefits. Read more to find out how you can benefit from apples year round.
Apple season is an extended season in the northern parts of North America and Europe. The apple harvest begins with Transparent apples in July and August and extends into November with Northern Spy, Granny Smith, and other later apples. This is good news for health conscious folks because apples boast one of the highest antioxidant fruits available year round. While pomegranates, cranberries, and blueberries have a reputation for being high in anthocyanins and other flavonoids, the apple can hold its own when compared to peaches, plums, nectarines, pears, and grapes for total antioxidant content.
How healthy are apples?
Apples have more antioxidants than citrus fruit, too, making them a good choice for backyard fruit in colder regions. There are apples that are hardy from zone 2 to zone 9. There are even heat tolerant apples that can grow in zone 10, although most varieties of apple trees need a short chill period to produce blossoms.
A dwarf apple tree will yield 50 to 200 pounds of apples each season. While a semi-dwarf apple tree will yield 250 to 500 pounds. If you have your own apple trees you are looking at a significant harvest. If you don’t have your own trees there may be someone in your community that will let you pick their trees in exchange for half the fruit. In many communities there are gleaners programs that allow those without land to harvest neglected fruit while offering some of it back for low income families.
But even if you have to buy your apples at the grocery store or the farmer’s market apples are a good nutritional investment. You’ve heard the adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. It turns out that there is a scientific basis for this old wives’ chant. Apples are one of the best antioxidant fruits available. They are rich in anthocyanins and other flavonoids which support the body’s own defenses against heart disease, cancers of all types, diabetes, and obesity.
Many studies have linked the consumption of apples with lower risk of mortality. Several studies have specifically linked apple consumption with a reduced risk for cancer, especially lung cancer. Another study found that women who ate 1 apple a day had a 35% decrease in risk for heart disease and stroke. It is the flavonoids in apples that are attributed with this benefit. The catchechins in apples seem to be more bioavailable than catchechins in tea, red wine, and other sources. In another study eating at least 2 apples or pears a week decreased the risk of asthma and lung disease in both men and women. In another study eating apples or pears 3 times a day contibuted to weightloss and a reduction in blood sugar levels in overweight, middle aged women.
What difference do antioxidants make?
A single apple has the same antioxidant activity as taking a 1500 mg vitamin C supplement. However, vitamin C accounts for only .4% of the antioxidant activity in apples. The antioxidants in apples are highest in the peel, so eating unpeeled apples and using unpeeled apples for cooking will increase the health benefits of apples. Red and striped apples have more antioxidants than yellow apples and green apples. But all colors of apples have more antioxidants than many other fruit and vegetables. Apples in cold storage have very little loss in antioxidants even after being stored for a 52 weeks in cold storage. So fresh apples are a good choice year round.
When apples are juiced for cider, 60% of the antioxidants remains with the apple pomace, a waste product of the cider making. When apples are peeled for making apple sauce and apple pie filling, many of the antioxidants remain with the peel. However, these antioxidants can be salvaged if the apple peels are dried in a dehydrator and then powdered to be used as a food supplement. The antioxidants in dried apple pees are actually higher than in the fresh peel.
How to maximize the health benefits of the apple harvest
- Eat apples every day and at least twice a week
- Eat the apple peel with the apple
- Eat apples year round
- If you peel an apple for apple sauce or apple pie, save the peel and dry it for later use
25 apple recipes that aren’t apple sauce
Apple recipes for snacks
Fresh apple slices dipped in honey
Apples with caramel sauce
Apple slices with peanut butter
Apple slices with cheddar cheese (like grandpa used to eat)
Dried apple slices (leave the skin on when you dry them)
Apple recipes for dinner
Apple and onion saute
Green apple slices in spring greens salad
Add apple pieces to Kale Salad
Baked apples and onions with roast chicken
Apple recipes for Desserts
Many apple recipes will be just as flavorful if you leave the peels on the apples when you prepare them for the recipe. Organically grown apples have thin peels that are not unsightly in apple pies, apple crumbles, or even in apple sauce. By leaving the peels on organically grown apples you will increase the health benefits of your apple a day.