• November 23, 2014

Eat an apple a day

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Posted: Wednesday, October 2, 2013 4:30 am

Apples don’t get the same buzz as popular “superfruits” such as goji berries, acai berries or pomegranates. But don’t overlook them. They are chock-full of powerful disease-fighting nutrients and health benefits, in addition to being affordable and portable.

Apples keep you hydrated: 84 percent of an apple’s content is water. This means apples not only satisfy your hunger but can satisfy your thirst as well.

They are low in calories (a medium-size apple has only 80), fat-free, sodium-free, cholesterol-free and full of fiber.

They contain immune-boosting Vitamin C, which is important for the growth and repair of all body tissues. Vitamin C also helps to heal cuts and wounds and keeps teeth and gums healthy.

They help you meet your daily fruit intake. The USDA recommends about two cups of fruit per day for most adults. A medium apple counts as a cup of fruit, so if you snack on one fresh apple while on the go, you are halfway to meeting your daily fruit intake.

Ready to start looking for apple recipes? Be careful. Many apple recipes contain loads of butter and refined sugar (think traditional apple pie) and advise you to remove the skin, stripping away important dietary fiber and nutrients.

Full of fiber

Most of the fiber in apples comes from the skin and the pulp. When you remove the skin, you remove about half the fiber. A medium apple with skin contains 3.3 grams of fiber, whereas a medium without skin has only 1.7 grams. Applesauce and apple juice contain even less. Dietary fiber is important for weight management, because it keeps you fuller longer. Dietary fiber from fruit, as part of an overall healthful diet, helps reduce blood cholesterol levels and might lower the risk of

heart disease, obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

Plus, fiber aids in proper bowel function and helps to reduce constipation.

An apple’s skin is also incredibly nutrient-rich.

According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, apples are loaded with the powerful antioxidant quercetin, which is found predominantly in the skin.

Quercetin is a phytochemical with anti-inflammatory and heart-protecting qualities, and may reduce the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Choose apples with the stem intact. Also try smelling them — you should be able to actually smell the freshness.

Apples can stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to three weeks. Keep them in a plastic bag and away from other foods with strong odors.

Consumed whole, apples make for a mess-free and convenient snack.

For a more filling option, you can slice them up and dip them into yogurt or your favorite nut butter.

Diced apples also make a great topping. Try them with your morning oatmeal or lunchtime salad.

APPLE PIE BITES

Apple pie is a classic fall comfort food, but a typical slice of it can set you back anywhere from 300 to 600 calories (and this doesn’t include the vanilla ice cream you might scoop on top of your slice). This recipe gains subtle sweetness naturally from apples, applesauce and brown rice syrup, a liquid sweetener that is both gluten-free and vegan. The crust contains no butter and is made from brown rice flour and almond flour, which means it’s gluten-free and vegan-friendly.

One bite might not get you nearly as many nutrients as a whole fresh apple, but it will satisfy your apple pie craving (and your sweet tooth). At 50 calories a pop, you can afford to go back for seconds.

Makes: 12 to 16 mini-muffin-size tarts

For best results: Use an apple variety that is firm enough to hold its shape and has a combination of sweet and tart flavors, such as Jonagold or Braeburn.

MAKE AHEAD: The apple pie bites can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days. From Elaine Gordon, creator of EatingbyElaine.com.

For the crust

  • ½ cup brown rice flour
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice syrup (may substitute light agave syrup or light maple syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • ¼ cup ice water

For the filling

  • 1 cup finely diced, skin-on apple
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon brown rice syrup (may substitute light agave syrup or light maple syrup)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease the wells of a 12-portion mini-muffin pan.

For the crust: Whisk together the brown rice flour, almond flour or meal and the cinnamon in a medium bowl. Add the brown rice syrup, applesauce and water; stir to form a soft dough. Divide evenly among the wells of the mini-muffin pan. Use your fingers to press in the dough so that it lines the bottom and sides of each well.

For the filling: Stir together the apple, applesauce, vanilla extract, brown rice syrup and cinnamon in a separate medium bowl. Divide evenly among the dough-lined muffin pan wells, pressing down the filling so it is firmly packed.

Bake for 15 to 18 minutes; the edges of the tarts will be lightly browned and the filling will have settled a bit. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then use a fork to gently dislodge and transfer each tart to a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Nutrition per tart (based on 16): 50 calories, 1 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar

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