Tina Miller, MS RD Meijer Healthy Living Advisor, www.meijerhealthyliving.com
This year Michigan apple growers are expecting the best harvest in over 25 years! Michigan is the third largest producer of apples, just behind Washington and New York. Early Michigan apples include the Paula Red, Ginger Gold, and McIntosh varieties, followed by favorites such as the Gala, Jonagold, and Honeycrisp. Later season Michigan apples include Ida Red, Delicious, Northern Spy and Rome varieties. You’ll find these and other delicious varieties of Michigan apples at your local Meijer.
The health benefits of Michigan apples are impressive, so goes the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”:
•A Healthy Snack for those with Diabetes (or just anyone!). Apples are high in the soluble fiber pectin, making them good at controlling blood sugar by releasing it a little more slowly into the bloodstream. This same soluble fiber is thought to have an anti-inflammatory affect that may help diabetics recover faster from infections.
•Reduce risk for heart disease and stroke: Apples are a great source of soluble fiber which helps to lower cholesterol levels.
•Reduce high blood pressure: Apples are naturally low in sodium and are a good source of the antioxidant Quercetin. Research studies demonstrate that this antioxidant helps to reduce pressure exerted on blood vessel walls.
•Reduce cancer risk: Antioxidants and fiber in apples have been shown to lower risk for some forms of cancer, including prostate cancer.
•Healthier teeth: The rough, fibrous texture and natural tannins in apples make them ideal for cleaning and brightening teeth (“nature’s toothbrush”).
•Promote healthy weight: Apples are also a good source of insoluble fiber (roughage) that maintains a feeling of fullness, helping to control appetite. This insoluble fiber is also beneficial for regularity and colon health.
•Support healthy lung function: preliminary studies suggest apples may provide a range of respiratory benefits, including improved lung function and protecting lung health.
Michigan Apple Facts:
•Apples are Michigan’s largest and most valuable fruit crop; the economic contribution of Michigan apples is estimated to be between $700 and $900 million annually.
•There are over 7.5 million apple trees in commercial production covering 37,500 acres!
•On average, Michigan harvests about 20 million bushels (840 million pounds) of apples per year.
•There are 900 family-operated farms throughout Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Small family farmers continue to dominate the landscape. According to statistics, 65 percent of Michigan orchards had fewer than 200 acres in apples.
•Newer orchards are trending to high-density planting (up to 500 trees per acre) that come into production quickly and bring desirable varieties to market quickly.
•About 40% of Michigan apples are sold ready to eat; 60% of all Michigan apples are processed into another product. Michigan is the largest supplier of apple slices used in commercially prepared apple pies. Michigan apples are also a main source for applesauce, fresh-cut slices, and fresh and shelf-stable apple cider.
Source: Apple Facts, Michiganapple.com
Meijer Healthy Living’s 25 Things to do with Michigan Apples!
1. Eat Them Whole Just as nature intended!
2. Slice Them Up – Sliced apples are convenient as an on-the go snack and perfect for lunchboxes!
3. Dip or spread with peanut butter for some added energy and protein.
4. Combine in a Fruit Salad Easy to make and full of health benefits! Combine apples with other colorful fruits and enjoy. Perfect for parties or packed in a lunch!
5. Put a Twist on the Classic Sandwich by adding sliced apples
6. Blend Them for a Smoothie. Combine with ice, yogurt, and other favorite fruits for a perfect fall smoothie.
7. Dip Them in Chocolate. The best of both worlds! Satisfy your sweet tooth while still getting the benefits from this featured fruit.
8. Bake for a Healthy “Chip”. Core and thinly slice apples (lightly sprinkle with McCormick® cinnamon if desired), place in a single layer on baking sheet and bake at 200°F for one hour for a healthy snack.
9. Modify Your Salad – add diced Michigan apples to your green salad for extra crunch.
10. Wake, Dip, & Roll: Dip apple slices in yogurt and roll in crushed Meijer Toasted O’s oat cereal for an easy breakfast or delicious snack. Fun for the kids too!
11. Use them as a Garnish – The vivid color of an apple’s skin can brighten almost any dish to make it more aesthetically pleasing!
12. Warm Up with a Cider. Make homemade apple cider- a perfect way to keep warm on those cool fall evenings.
13. Core them to create an apple cup – fill with diced fresh fruit or a mix of dried fruit and nuts!
14. Wrap Them Up: Start your day with a quick and healthy tortilla wrap containing apple slices and other fruits or nuts.
15. Get Crafting with the Kids – Cut apple in half, dip in paint, and use as a stamp. Get creative and cut the apple into fun shapes, like a heart!
16. Sweeten up your coleslaw. Add diced apples to low fat coleslaw for a healthy twist to an old classic.
17. Throw Them on the Grill. Marinate in a mixture of honey, vanilla, and mint mixture and grill them up. Perfect as a side dish or even a dessert!
18. Make Scary Apple Mouths. Perfect craft for Halloween! Cut wedge out of a quartered apple, spread on peanut butter and add sliced almonds or candy corn for scary teeth!
19. Grate It to Add It! Coarsely grate a peeled apple and add to pancake, muffin, or cupcake mixes!
20. Make Applesauce – A snack the whole family can enjoy. Those bruised and not so beautiful looking apples are perfect for applesauce (use a mix of tart and sweet apples for best flavor)
21. Add them to a skewer with chunks of cheese for a hearty snack or appetizer.
22. Make a Turkey Apple Dip. Slice apples into wedges and use as “feathers”, use caramel or yogurt as dip with a chocolate chip and candy corn face.
23. Top off oatmeal or yogurt. Add diced apples and cinnamon to Meijer oatmeal or Meijer Greek yogurt for added flavor.
24. Layer Them in a Parfait. Layer apples, granola, and yogurt for a perfect parfait!
25. Get Creative!!! Experiment in the kitchen and come up with your own new and exciting recipes.
Thanks to Dietetic Intern Elizabeth Flum for her assistance in creating “25 Things to do with Michigan Apples” for Meijer Healthy Living. Visit meijerhealthyliving.com for delicious apple recipes.
Apple Salad with Candied Bacon and Goat Cheese
Created by Diane Nemitz of Ludington, MI, 2011 Michigan Apple Committee Recipe Contest Winner
6 slices bacon, diced
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon brown sugar
3 Michigan honeycrisp apples, cut into one-inch dice
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
4 oz. goat cheese, cubed
3 cups Earthbound Farms Organics baby arugula
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 cup Meijer apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup Meijer extra virgin olive oil
- Fry bacon until crisp, then drain off most of fat. Add maple syrup and brown sugar to pan, cook and stir until bacon is well coated with melted sugar. Remove from pan onto parchment paper.
- Combine remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss with salad. Garnish with bacon.