How Do Apples Help Keep the Doctor Away?
Fresh apples contain soluble and insoluble fiber and phytochemicals (particularly flavonoids). Epidemiological research has linked apple consumption to reduced risk of some cancers, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, while laboratory studies indicate apples have strong antioxidant activity, decrease lipid oxidation and lower cholesterol. Data from the Nurse’s Health and Health Professionals Follow-Up Studies indicate consumption of anthocyaninrich foods, including apples and pears, is associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes. According to this same data, women who eat at least one apple or pear daily may have a reduced risk of lung cancer.
In a Finnish study, researchers concluded that quercetin, a prevalent flavonoid in apples, may be related to the inverse relationship between apple eating and lung cancer. Apple consumption is also associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, coronary mortality and cardiovascular events. During a 10-year follow-up study on stroke incidence in the Netherlands, researchers found a lower risk for people who ate more white fruits and vegetables. (Apples and pears were the most commonly consumed white fruits and vegetables in that study.) Improvements in lipid metabolism have also been noted in animal studies, which researchers attribute to a beneficial interaction between apple pectin and the phenolic components of apples.
Selecting and Storing Apples
Apples occupy a prominent place in mythology, art, poetry and folklore, but perhaps this popular fruit’s most appealing place is in the kitchen. More than 2,500 varieties of apples are grown in the U.S., and Americans consume about 50 pounds of apples—fresh or processed—per person annually.
Apples purchased in-season and grown locally are fresher and, to some, may taste more flavorful. Select apples with shiny skins that are free of bruises. Once home, store the apples in a cool place or refrigerate them to maintain quality, and use them within three weeks.
The peel contains the majority of the apple’s insoluble fiber, as well as beneficial phytochemicals and nutrients, so whenever possible, keep the peel on. Once cut, apple flesh will brown from oxidation. Prevent this by dipping or briefly soaking the apple pieces in a solution of one part citrus juice to three parts water, or treat the apple with a commercial fresh fruit protecting powder.
Using Apples in Foodservice
Broad appeal and ready availability make apples a natural seasonal choice for foodservice establishments. Apple prep can be tedious in quantity, but peeled and sliced or diced fresh apples are widely available for foodservice use.
Though sweet staples like apple pie and crisp are perennially popular, by no means should apples be limited to the dessert stand. Peeled, unsweetened sliced or diced apples in frozen form are easy to combine with roasted or sautéed vegetables such as root vegetables, cabbage or Brussels sprouts. Sweetened diced apple topping, which resembles a very chunky applesauce, is an alternative for syrup on pancakes, waffles and French toast, while unsweetened applesauce is ideal for blending into squash or potato soups, mashing into sweet potatoes or incorporating into meatloaf.
Foodservice packs of apple butter can add moisture and help decrease fat in gingerbread, quick bread, muffins and breakfast bars. (Look for juice-sweetened brands to keep added sugar down.) Individual portions of fresh, sliced apples, applesauce, dried apple “chips” and diced apples in juice may entice both kids and adults on the serving line.
Apple, Brie & Bacon Foccacia
Recipe developed by Deanna Segrave-Daly
1 (1/4 ounce) package dry yeast
1 cup warm water, divided
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 3/4 to 2 cups all purpose white flour
4 tsp. fresh rosemary (about 4 sprigs), minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
3 slices applewood smoked bacon, uncooked
3 medium apples, cored and sliced thinly
2 ounces Brie cheese
1 sprig fresh rosemary
- In a large bowl, combine yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and sugar. Let stand for 10 minutes.
- Add remaining water, whole wheat flour, 1 cup white flour, rosemary, olive oil and salt; mix until dough starts to form.
- Continue to add remaining flour and knead until dough is smooth (5 to 10 minutes).
- Coat bowl with olive oil, place dough in bowl, cover with towel and let rise 1 hour. Punch down dough, roll into 14x10-inch rectangle and place on an oiled, rimmed baking sheet; cover and let rest for 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Cook bacon in a large skillet until crispy. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels.
- Remove excess bacon fat, return skillet to stove and add apple slices. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat.
- Spread apple slices over dough. Put dough in oven and bake for 15 minutes. Take out of oven and crumble bacon over apples. Then, top with small pieces of cut Brie and snipped pieces from sprig of rosemary. Return to oven and cook another 7 to 10 minutes until brie has melted and foccacia is golden brown.
- Cool slightly before cutting.
Serves 12; serving size: 3x4-inch slice
Total fat: 5g; Saturated fat: 1.5g; Trans fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 10mg; Sodium: 150mg
Carbohydrate: 30g; Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 6g
Deanna Segrave-Daly, RD, is a partner at Teaspoon Communications and blogs at teaspoonofspice.com
Maple-Nut Apple Treat
Developed by Cheryl Forberg
6 crisp sweet-tart apples
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup white whole-wheat flour
2 Tbsp. chopped walnuts or pistachios
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
- Preheat oven to 375°F with rack in center. Lightly coat a 9x9-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
- Peel and core apples. Quarter lengthwise and cut crosswise into half-inch-thick slices. Toss apples with lemon juice and vanilla extract in large bowl. Transfer to baking dish.
- Combine oats, flour, nuts, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, baking soda, allspice, cloves, salt and nutmeg in medium bowl. Mix well.
- Combine buttermilk, maple syrup and oil in a small bowl.
- Quickly fold buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients. Spoon topping over the apples (it will just cover apples).
- Bake 30 minutes or until topping is puffed. Spoon into bowls and serve warm.
Serves 12; serving size: 1/2 cup
Total fat: 6g; Saturated fat: 0.5g; Trans fat: 0g
Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 105mg
Carbohydrate: 24g; Fiber: 3g; Sugar: 15g
Cheryl Forberg, RD, is the author of Flavor First (Rodale Books 2011).
Kitty Broihier, MS, RD, is a freelance writer and public relations consultant based in Maine.