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Michigan In-Season Produce: Apples

As we head further into the Autumn, a fresh harvest of in-season produce is calling. In the fall, Michiganders can take advantage of grapes, green beans, corn zucchini, cabbage and of course – apples. A family trip to the apple orchard is a great way to teach kids about healthy produce while packing in some steps.

Sometimes known as nature’s toothbrush, apples flaunt an impressive list of health benefits including prebiotic effects, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Its fiber and polyphenol content reduces the risk for heart disease, some cancers, high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. Moreover, this study adds supports the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Middle-aged adults who consumed one apple a day for four weeks lowered their levels of LDL cholesterol by 40 percent.

Apples are the largest and most valuable crop in Michigan. According to the Michigan Apples Committee, Michigan is the nation’s third-largest producer of apples. Nearly 15 million apple trees cover 34,000-plus acres produce popular apple varieties such as fuji, ever crisp, gala, golden and red delicious, and honey crisp.

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 produce ethylene gas that speeds up the ripening of produce stored along with them.

After your next backyard harvest or trip to the farmer’s market, consider making these apple recipes:

Orange and Thyme Whipped Ricotta Apple Toast – Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 honey crisp apple or other crispy variety, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup hazelnut, chopped
  • 2 slices whole wheat or sourdough bread, toasted
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup part skim ricotta
  • ½ orange, zested and juiced
  • 2 tbsp thyme, chopped
  • 2 tsp honey

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. In a blender or food processor, add ricotta, Greek yogurt, orange juice, orange zest, thyme and honey. Blend until smooth.
  3. On toasted bread, add 2-3 tbsp of whipped ricotta mixture. Add sliced apples on top then finish with toasted hazelnuts. Enjoy!

Fall Spiced Apple Sauce Cake

Ingredients

For the cake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup homemade or unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup vegetable oil

For the healthier frosting and topping

  • 4 oz light cream cheese
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 honey crisp apple or other crispy, sliced
  • ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts or walnuts

Instructions

  1. Make an apple sauce that can be used as a snack and frozen for the year or purchase unsweetened apple sauce.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  3. Grease a 9-inch round baking pan with spray oil and apply unflavored breadcrumbs or panko crumbs.
  4. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.
  5. In a separate bowl using a high-speed mixer beat the eggs with regular and brown sugar until smooth. Add the applesauce, vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Mix on high speed until smooth.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix at high speed until well incorporated.
  7. Pour batter into baking pan. Depending on the oven, bake the cake for 45 minutes, or until a fork comes out clean from the middle of the cake.
  8. For the frosting, combine Greek yogurt, light cream cheese, maple syrup and pumpkin spice.
  9. Let apple cake cool on a wire rack. Apply frosting to the top, then add sliced apples along the edges. Top with toasted hazelnuts or walnuts in the middle.

Crispy Brussels Apple Salad – Serves 4

Ingredients

Crispy Brussels Apple Salad

  • 2 crispy apples, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups lettuce (kale or baby spring mix)
  • ½ red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup walnuts

Spiced Apple Cider Vinaigrette

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme chopped
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes or to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Prepare a baking sheet and spray with olive oil.
  3. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper. Spread the shredded Brussels on the baking sheet and roast for ~25 minutes, stirring halfway.
  4. While Brussels sprouts are roasting, make the vinaigrette. Combine all ingredients in a blender, whisk in a bowl or shake in a mason jar.
  5. Combine all salad ingredients with the dressing. Add grilled pork tenderloin, chicken, tofu or crunchy chickpeas for protein if desired.

Crispy Apple Chicken Salad – Serves 4

Ingredients

  • Option 1: Slow cooker chicken
    • 1/3 cup chicken stock
    • 2 chicken breasts
    • 1 small or ½ large onion, diced (shallot, red or yellow onion)
    • ½ cup chopped celery
  • Option 2: Canned chicken
    • 3 cans canned chicken
    • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 crispy apples, diced (such as honey crisp or golden delicious)
  • ¾ cup grapes, quartered
  • ½ cup walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup light mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Optional, 2 tbsp chopped herbs such as dill, thyme or parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Option 1 (omit if doing canned chicken option). In a slow cooker, add chicken breasts, diced onion and celery. Cook on low for 4 hours. Shred using a fork, immersion blender or potato smasher.
  2. Combine Option 1 or Option 2 ingredients with diced apples, chopped walnuts, light mayonnaise, lemon juice, Greek yogurt, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Enjoy on a salad or on top of a whole wheat toast. Add chopped herbs if desired.

Shanthi Appelö is a registered dietitian and health and wellness spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan based in Detroit. Passionate about the science of nutrition and behavior, Shanthi has experience working in clinical nutrition, public health and teaching in the university setting. In her free time, she enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, exploring the outdoors, working on art and spending time with family.