The versatility of apples
Apples are the most commonly consumed fruit in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. There’s good reason for the fruit’s top ranking, says Lisa Jones, a registered dietitian based in Philadelphia. “Variety is the spice of life, and apples offer versatility while providing a multitude of texture and flavor, depending on how they are used,” Jones says. “Looking for a sweet, savory and satisfying meal? Add an apple.”
Here are eight ways to use apples:
The texture and flavor of applesauce depends on the variety of apple used to make it, Jones says. “All-purpose apples such as Granny Smith, Rome Beauty, Fuji and many others will produce good results,” she says. “If you are making unsweetened applesauce, omit added sugar and select a naturally sweet variety like Red, Golden Delicious or Gala.” Directions for making your own applesauce are available online.
2. Apples in salads
The fall is a great time to add apple slices to salads. “Apples are satisfying, versatile and pair well with almost any salad,” Jones says. “Cortland apples are great in salads as they are tart, crisp and do not brown easily. Empire apples (a hybrid of McIntosh and Red Delicious) are best used in salads because they are sweet, crisp and firm.” Or try a Granny Smith, which is a bright green apple known for being tart, crisp and hard.
3. Apples in oatmeal
Sliced apples can be a great addition to oatmeal, says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian with the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition. The combination of apple and oatmeal provides a good source of soluble fiber, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels and lower cholesterol. “Add a few dashes of cinnamon for extra flavor,” Patton says. “Cinnamon has been found to help regulate blood sugar levels too.” If you prefer to keep your oatmeal smooth, add applesauce instead of apple slices.
4. Apple crisp
“This classic dessert is a perfect way to end a fall meal,” Patton says. She suggests using whatever apples you have on hand. There are plenty of recipes online, most of which include oatmeal, flour and sugar as ingredients. To boost the nutritional content, consider using whole-wheat flour or substitute ground flaxseed for 1/4 cup of flour. Also, use half the sugar in the recipe. “Try adding slivered almonds, walnuts or pecans for extra crunch,” she says.
5. Apple snack pairings
As a snack, apples go well with an array of other foods, including cheese and nut butters, Jones says. Of course, apples themselves are a terrific and healthy snack. They’re tasty, satisfying and low in calories; a typical medium-size apple contains 60 calories.
6. Cooked apples
Complement proteins like chicken, pork or burgers with diced and grated apples, Jones suggests. “Make a side dish combining baked apples with butternut squash, sweet potatoes or stuffing,” she says. “Or make a healthy dessert by baking an apple with cinnamon. Braeburn apples cook well, since the sweetness mellows and can be used for both savory and sweet (tastes).” Also consider Ambrosia apples, which hold their shape and brown slowly, making them good for savory and sweet dishes.
7. Dried apples
For added texture, taste and nutrition, mix dried apples in cereal and granola, Jones says. “Both are naturally sweet and (taste) like sugar was added when it wasn’t,” she says.
8. Apple ‘sandwiches’
“For a healthy snack, use apple slices the way you would bread for sandwiches,” suggests Haylee M. Hannah, a registered dietitian/nutritionist with UC Health Weight Loss Center in Cincinnati. “Remove the core and slice the apple into rings,” she says. “Top with nut butter of your choice and sprinkle with granola and raisins. Top with another apple ring for an easy and satisfying snack.”
To recap, here are eight uses for apples:
— Apples in salads.
— Apples in oatmeal.
— Apple crisp.
— Apple snack pairings.
— Cooked apples.
— Dried apples.
— Apple “sandwiches.”
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