I love this time of the year when there’s a cool, crisp snap in the New England air. The trees are beginning to turn to beautiful autumn colors and apples are ready to be harvested. Apples are not only a delicious food, but they’re loaded with heart-healthy phytonutrients and fiber. In fact, the phrase "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" is absolutely true and has been backed up by clinical research.
Given the health benefits of apples, they should be part of any heart-healthy diet plan. Just remember that organic is best!
6 Ways to Enjoy the Health Benefits of Apples
1. Cinnamon Apples: Slice up an apple, sprinkle a little cinnamon on top (not only does cinnamon taste good, it helps lower your blood sugar), and enjoy!
2. Harvest Chicken Medley: Place boneless, skinless chicken breasts in a casserole dish, along with chopped onions, apples, and a few raisins. Sprinkle with cinnamon, curry powder (and any of your favorite “apple pie spices”)—and bake in the oven at 350°F until the chicken is done.
3. Apple Oatmeal Cereal: Add a peeled, diced apple to 1/2 cup of steel cut oatmeal before preparing and sprinkle with cinnamon. It will smell like you’re cooking an apple pie—my mouth waters just thinking about it!
4. Apple Rice Medley—Over Squash: Bake your favorite squash. I like to halve a butternut squash and bake it in the oven until it's soft (flesh side down in about 1/4" of water). Meanwhile prepare short grain brown rice, adding diced peeled apples, raisins, and a sprinkle of cinnamon toward the end of cooking it—until the apples soften. You can even throw in a few dried cranberries. Then stuff the squash halves with the rice mixture, and you’ll have one of my favorite fall side dishes!
5. Healthy Apple Brown Betty: Layer apple slices in a casserole dish and sprinkle with oatmeal and add a sprinkle of cinnamon. Bake at 350°F until the apples soften (about 20 minutes). If you'd like, you can add a small drizzle of real maple syrup before eating.
6. Apple Yogurt Truffle: Peel and dice an apple and stir into plain yogurt. Top with a few raisins, and chopped walnuts or almonds for a delicious yogurt treat!
Now it’s your turn: What’s your favorite way to enjoy the health benefits of apples?