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Prairie Fare: Enjoy an apple during National Apple Month

Apples have many attributes that can contribute to good health and a flavorful menu.

When my daughter was young, she searched for the largest, most perfect red apple to bring to her teacher on the first day of school. She proudly brought it to her teacher and placed it on her teacher’s desk.

At dinner, our daughter reported that her teacher thought it was the best apple she ever tasted.

People often consider apples to be a symbol of knowledge and education. Years ago, teachers received room and board from the people of the town where they served as a teacher. Families  often sent apples to school with their children to help supplement the teacher’s food supply, probably because their salary was fairly meager.

Of all the foods, apples are among the fruits most commonly shown in artwork. Still-life paintings of bowls of apples are easy to find as home decor.

Apples are found in common sayings. Who doesn’t want to be the “apple of someone’s eye”?  On the other hand, few people want to be known as a “bad apple.”

According to a 1913 rhyme, “eat an apple before retiring to bed and you’ll keep your doctor from earning his bread.” That rhyme later became: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”

Is that all it takes to be healthy? Munch on an apple every day?

Researchers have not found strong associations between eating an apple a day as the cure-all for other less healthy habits. Eating an apple certainly can be part of the recommended two or more cups of fruit daily, though.

Be aware that a healthy diet includes a variety of foods.

October is National Apple Month. Apples have many attributes that can contribute to good health and a flavorful menu.

Apples may help with weight maintenance or loss. Regular consumption of apples may help with blood glucose control and lung function. The antioxidants and fiber in apples may reduce the risk for heart disease and cancer.

Researchers studied 21 nursing home residents to determine the outcomes of having two (4-ounce) glasses of apple juice daily, along with their regular diet and medications. Health care providers noted improvements among the residents in behaviors associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Apples are nutrient rich. One medium apple (3 inches in diameter) has 95 calories, 0 grams (g) fat, 0.4 g protein, 25 g carbohydrate and 4 g fiber, plus several vitamins and minerals. Eat the peeling for the maximum health benefits because most of the fiber and many disease-fighting antioxidants are in the peel.

Apples grow well in the Midwest, and we have numerous types of apples to choose from at the grocery store. Even though our climate does not allow year-round picking, we can preserve apples by freezing, drying, and canning to make sauce, jams, jellies and relishes.

NDSU Extension’s nutrition, food safety and health website (www.ag.ndsu.edu/food) offers numerous free resources for food preservation. Click on Food Preservation and Wild Game and select a preservation method to learn more.

These are some of the resources you will find that feature apple recipes:

  • Freezing Fruits
  • Drying Fruits
  • Home Caning Fruit and Fruit Products
  • Jams and Jellies from North Dakota Fruits
  • Let’s Preserve Fruit Pie Fillings

For more apple recipes, visit the apple resources at NDSU Extension’s Field to Fork website available at www.ag.ndsu.edu/fieldtofork.

Apples also can be part of fall main-course meals. This easy-to-make recipe is from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate Kitchen.

One-Dish Roasted Potatoes and Apples with Chicken Sausage

3 red potatoes or your favorite potato variety (about 1 pound) 
1 tablespoon canola oil 
2 red apples (Fuji, Pink Lady, Honeycrisp, Gala, etc.) 
1 yellow onion 
4 chicken herb link sausages (12 ounces) 
2 tablespoons cider vinegar 
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard 
1 tablespoon honey 

Preheat oven to 425 F. Cut potatoes into chunks, place in 2-quart baking dish. Drizzle with canola oil. Toss to coat. Roast potatoes in oven for about 20 minutes. While potatoes are roasting, cut apples and onions into chunks, and sausage into 1/2-inch slices. Remove baking dish from oven and reduce heat to 375 F. Add all remaining ingredients to baking dish and toss. Return baking dish to oven and roast an additional 30 minutes until apples and potatoes are tender.

Makes four servings. Each serving has 364 calories, 17 grams (g) fat, 15 g protein, 39 g carbohydrate, 5 g fiber and 588 milligrams sodium.

(Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.)

NDSU Agriculture Communication – Oct. 19, 2023

Source: Julie Garden-Robinson, 701-231-7187, julie.garden-robinson@ndsu.edu

Editor: Elizabeth Cronin, 701-231-7881, elizabeth.cronin@ndsu.edu


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