Sara Lopinski: Among all the treats of autumn there's one you might have overlooked: apples. Delicious and nutritious, the saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is actually on the mark.
With more than 7,500 varieties worldwide, apples pack a powerful nutritional punch, containing vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber. Apples are free of saturated and trans fats, and a medium-to-large-sized portion has only about 100 calories.
Eating apples has proven to have several health benefits. Research suggests that apples may reduce the risk of certain cancers, specifically colon and prostate. Apples may protect the lungs of adults by reducing the risk of asthma and lung cancer. The fiber content is helpful for optimal functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
Don't forget to eat the peel, too. The peel is ripe with pectin, a type of fiber, and polyphenols, powerful antioxidants, which can reduce cholesterol and LDL (bad) cholesterol levels. A study at Florida State University in Tallahassee published last spring confirmed these heart-healthy findings.
There is also some evidence that eating apples helps regulate blood sugar and helps control your appetite. Apples are considered a "slow food" because you must take the time to chew them, giving your body time to feel full before you eat too much. The natural sweeteners in apples enter the bloodstream more slowly, keeping your blood sugar and insulin levels steady so that you feel full longer. Another study found that apples might enhance your memory and keep your brain healthy as you age.
Apples are at peak taste this time of year, so grab a peck or two. Take advantage of the harvest and include apples in your recipes, such as easy to do recipes below:
Double Apple Muffins
There is a double dose of apples in this muffin.
Recipe provided by Sara Lopinski
Non-stick cooking spray
1 egg white, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp. skim milk
1 ½ tbsp. canola oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2 Tbsp. sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
? tsp. salt
½ cup chopped Gala or Jonathon apple including skin
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a six-muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. In a large bowl, combine egg white, milk, oil, applesauce and sugar. Gently stir baking powder, cinnamon, and salt into flour; add all at once with chopped apple to egg white mixture. Stir only until flour mixture is moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Divide batter evenly among the prepared muffin tins filling cups about 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees for 22 - 25 minutes until muffins are golden brown. Let cool in muffin pan, then run knife around the edges of each muffin; turn out onto rack to cool.
Yield: 6 muffins
Serving Size: 1 muffin
Calories per serving ---120
Fiber-----------------------< 1 gm.
Apple Crisp for One
This is a perfect single serving dessert for the apple lover.
Recipe provided by Sara Lopinski
1 medium Granny Smith or Jonathon apple (5 - 6 oz.)
1 Tbsp. old-fashioned oatmeal, dry
1 Tbsp. brown sugar, packed
1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. soft tub margarine
Slice apple into thin bite-size pieces and place in a microwave-safe dish. In a small bowl, combine oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, flour and combine. Add margarine and stir into the dry mixture. When combined, pour the crumbs over the apple pieces. Microwave on high for two minutes. Let cool slightly before eating. Top with fat-free whipped topping, if desired.
Yield: 1 serving
Calories Per Serving: 190
Sara Lopinski, MS, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian in the endocrinology division of the Department of Internal Medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.