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By Alison Corey

There is nothing like being a Michigander in autumn. It is far and above my favorite season with the crisp air, sunny skies, and the colorful leaves that litter the ground. Harvest season is in full swing, and the numerous apple orchards and cider mills in the area open their doors to quench our cravings for crunchy apples, sweet cider, and donuts.

One of our favorite family traditions is to head out to the apple orchard on a warm Sunday afternoon and bring home a bushel of apples. It’s a wonderful way to spend an afternoon together walking through the orchard, looking for a tree that hasn’t been picked over, and finding apples that are within arm’s reach. My kids love to climb on my husband’s shoulders to reach the high ones, and I can’t help but laugh and smile as they wobble and reach for an apple that’s just out of reach.

When we get home, it’s time for me to get creative in the kitchen. My family loves a traditional apple pie, apple crisp, and apple butter. A sweet slice of traditional apple pie is a delicious and deserving treat every once and awhile, but there are other fabulous ways to use apples in your cooking that don’t include added sugar. 

As a plant-based health coach, I look for creative ways to use nutrient-rich fruits (like apples) and vegetables in a way that pleases my family and retains their excellent health benefits. 

You’ve heard the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Is there any truth to that statement?

The Top 5 Health Benefits of Apples

  • Apples are full of vitamins and fiber.

Apples are low in calories, high in fiber, and contain notable amounts of vitamin C, potassium, and vitamin K. An average apple (that is three inches in diameter) is 95 calories. Most of the vitamins of an apple are contained in its skin, so don’t peel your apples before eating them.

  1. Apples are great for weight loss.

Due to their high fiber and water content, apples are very filling. However, don’t go for apple juice or apple sauce; eat a whole apple with the skin on. It will help you feel fuller longer and carry you between meals. 

  1. Apples are good for your heart.

Apples contain soluble fiber that can lower your blood and cholesterol levels, thus improving your heart health. The polyphenols in apples, which are contained in the skin, have an antioxidant effect and may lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of stroke.

  1. Apples lower your risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Other studies have found that eating apples daily was linked to 28% lower risk of type 2 diabetes, which is possibly due to the polyphenols in apples that have an antioxidant effect.

  1. Apples Promote Good Gut Bacteria

Apples contain pectin, a type of fiber that acts as a prebiotic. This feeds the good bacteria in your gut, which is another reason that apples are linked to a lower risk of obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. 

How to buy and prepare apples to reap the most health benefits…

While apples are a healthy, nutrient-rich fruit with numerous health benefits as mentioned above, we must be wise when choosing our apples for consumption, and how we decide to prepare them to reap the most benefits.

  • Buy Organic Apples

The EWG (Environmental Working Group) puts out a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables that contain the highest amount of pesticide residue. Around 70% of the produce sold in the U.S. contains pesticide residue, which is why it’s important to consult this list before going grocery shopping. Researchers have found that some pesticides that are sprayed on fruits and vegetables can cause cancer. The EWG has a list of its Clean 15, which are the fruits with the lowest amount of pesticide residue and are okay to buy non-organic. 

Apples rank #5 on the EWG’s Dirty Dozen list, which is why it’s important to buy organic when it comes to apples. 

  1. Prepare and Consume Apples in Their Natural Form

When apple season arrives and we head to the orchard to pick bushels of apples to bring home, we get excited by the sweet treats we can prepare using our delicious bounty. Apple muffins, apple pie, apple bread, apple butter, apple crisp—the list goes on.

However, if the goal of consuming apples is to benefit our health, the best way to consume apples are in their natural form, without adding sugar. Apples are naturally tart and sweet, and you can still prepare a delicious and satisfying apple treat using natural ingredients with no added sugar.

While an apple a day isn’t a hard-and-fast rule to keep the doctor away, it is a great place to start. A diet rich in natural plant-based foods combined with regular physical fitness is a recipe for health and longevity. 

Tired of the typical apple recipes? Look no further!

My Green Apple Smoothie is a nutrient-rich snack or breakfast. Did you know apples can be the star of dinner? Try my Apple and Arugula Flatbread. Looking for a tasty dessert without the added sugar? Give my Baked Apple Nachos a try!

Green Apple Smoothie

Vegan, Gluten-Free

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup organic kale, stemmed
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 organic Granny Smith Apple
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  1. Chop and stem the kale. Cube the Granny Smith Apple and chop the frozen banana into chunks. 
  2. In your blender, combine the almond milk and kale. Blend until the kale is broken down. Add the avocado and blend until smooth. Add the apple and blend until smooth. Add the frozen banana and chia seeds.
  3. Pour into two glasses and sprinkle a few chia seeds on top. 

Apple Arugula Flatbread

Vegan

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

Arugula Pesto:

  • 2 cups of fresh basil
  • 2 cups of organic arugula
  • ⅓ cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Flatbread:

  • 1 prepared whole wheat flatbread 
  • 2 thinly-sliced Fuji apples (or any apple you have on hand)
  • 1 cup of arugula
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Blend all ingredients for the pesto in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Spread the top of the flatbread with the arugula pesto mixture. (Use as much as you like, you might have some leftover pesto to make whole wheat pasta later!)
  4. Wash, core, and thinly slice the Fuji apples. Arrange on top of the flatbread. 
  5. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on top.
  6. Bake for ten minutes or until the edge of the flatbread begins to brown.
  7. Top with arugula and walnuts and serve.

Baked Apple Nachos

Vegan, Gluten-Free

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 organic Granny Smith Apples (or apple of your choice), cored and sliced thin
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 tbsp almond butter
  • ¼  cup raisins
  • 2 tbsp crushed almonds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Nacho Sauce:

  • ¼  cup whole fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp dried cranberries
  1. Preheat oven to 225 F. 
  2. Wash, core, and thinly slice apples. Spread them evenly on an ungreased cookie sheet.
  3. Sprinkle apples with cinnamon.
  4. Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until apples are dried and edges curl up.
  5. While apples are baking, make nacho sauce. Combine coconut milk, maple syrup, and cranberries in a blender.
  6. Remove apple chips from the oven.  
  7. Drizzle almond butter evenly over the apple chips.
  8. Drizzle nacho sauce evenly over the apple chips.
  9. Sprinkle raisins, crushed pecans, and chia seeds on top.

BIO: 

Alison Corey, is a National Board Certified Health and Wellness Coach, writer, yoga teacher, wife, and mother to two energetic boys. Alison is passionate about plant-based nutrition, meditation, and nurturing sustainable self-care practices for mothers. In her Healthy Happy Mama Program she helps women embrace the imperfectly perfect mama life, overcome overwhelm, and transform their physical and emotional health so they can feel like themselves again. First session is FREE. You can learn more about her work at:

https://www.trimmama.com

https://www.facebook.com/trimmama/