As we head into the fall solstice, a fresh harvest of in-season produce is calling. In September, Michiganders can take advantage of grapes, green beans, corn, zucchini, cabbage and, of course, apples.
Sometimes known as nature’s toothbrush, apples offer an impressive list of health benefits, including prebiotic effects, and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The fiber and polyphenol content in apples reduces the risk for heart disease, some cancers, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.
Moreover, this study supports the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” In the study, middle-aged adults who consumed one apple a day for four weeks lowered their levels of LDL cholesterol by 40%.
Apples are the largest and most valuable crop in Michigan. According to the Michigan Apple Committee, Michigan is the nation’s third-largest producer of the tasty fruit. Nearly 15 million apple trees cover 34,000-plus acres, producing popular apple varieties such as Fuji, Evercrisp, Gala, Golden and Red Delicious, and Honeycrisp.
Apples are known for lasting long, but refrigerated apples last longer than apples left out. Be sure to keep apples away from other produce, as apples be used as a snack and frozen for the year or purchase unsweetened applesauce.
After your next backyard harvest or trip to the farmers market, consider making these apple recipes:
1 honey crisp apple or other crispy variety, thinly sliced
1⁄4 cup hazelnut, chopped
2 slices whole wheat or sourdough bread, toasted
1⁄4 cup Greek yogurt
1⁄2 cup part skim ricotta
1⁄2 orange, zested and juiced
2 tbsp thyme, chopped
2 tsp honey
In a pan over medium heat, spray with oil and add hazelnuts. Shake around every half minute or so and toast for 2-3 minutes. Watch as they do not get burnt.
In a blender or food processor, add ricotta, Greek yogurt, orange juice, orange zest, thyme and honey. Blend until smooth.
On toasted bread, add 2-3 tablespoons of whipped ricotta mixture. Add sliced apples on top then finish with toasted hazelnuts. Enjoy!