When Life Gives You Apples

…I would say make applesauce but that’s so obvious.  So let’s look at how how delicious and healthful they are, in many iterations.  Of course, I always promote the whole food first.

‘Tis the season for this heart-healthy fruit in Northern California, beginning with the harvest of Gravensteins, to over 7,500 varieties today.  Commercially we have access to about 100 types, but if you scour the farmers’ markets you can find some pretty unique selections – all of which have great nutritional benefits.

Health Bennies
Apples are super high in fiber, providing 15% of our daily value when eaten with the skin. (If eating the skin make sure the apple is organic, as this is one of the fruits which absorbs pesticides the most. (Source: www.FoodNews.org) Apple skins are loaded with antioxidants – such as quercetin – in the form of a phytonutrient.  Quercetin provides cardiovascular protection, helps prevents cataracts and has anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic and anti-viral properties.  It also prevents ulcers, kidney stones, and herpes simplex.   The fiber in apples latches onto LDL (the Lousy cholesterol) and moves it out of our bodies.  Eating just two apples a day can reduce cholesterol by up to 16%!

In addition to high fiber, apples are a good source of vitamins A, C and K. Vitamin K combats osteoporosis like calcium-rich foods and keeps cell damage at bay.

Right now you can find luscious apple varieties at your local farmers markets. The best way to store apples is in the refrigerator for about seven days.  We’ll review tips on keeping other produce soon but suffice it to say, the longer you wait, the less the nutritional bennies will wait for you.

Fun Facts
Here are some silly teasers for your kids or your friends (the big kids):
•    Apples float because 25% of their volume is air.
•    An apple tree must grow four to five years before it will produce an apple.
•    The “Delicious” apple variety is the most widely grown in the U.S.
•    The apple belongs to the rose family.
•    In ancient times, apples were thrown at weddings instead of rice or birdseed.  No wonder the bride had to change her clothes:)

Eat That, Digest This

Here I am newly indoctrinated into the blog world and I’m already taking short cuts.  It’s not for lack of subject matter – believe me!  But a respected food professional has so succinctly encapsulated what I espouse to that I decided  to go with imitation as flattery vs. reinventing the wheel.

A recent article in the SF Chronicle food section was written by Marion Nestle, nutrition professor, author and recent pet food private eye (tho not so private.)  Marion’s article focuses on eating a variety of whole foods in small doses for nutrients and optimal balance.  Please note the ingredients of that sentence. First let’s take variety: for example, not eating the same thing for breakfast every day so as to assimilate as many nutrients as possible.  One of my teachers used to say: “our bodies need everything, all of the time.”  In other words, with an assortment of foods we can obtain a medley of vitamins and minerals without reaching for a capsule to fill the void. But that doesn’t mean overdo it…

Which brings us to portion control.  Yes, size does matter.  In America we have ‘grown’ accustomed to everything BIG, which has continued to plague our waistlines and our health.  It all hearkens back to my mantra (with a nod to Michael Pollan) of eating (whole) food, not too much, from a sustainable source.

When these practices are applied – along with a healthy dose of exercise – we can realize balance in both our diet and our overall well being.  Our energy is restored, our weight is maintained, and our supplement or prescription drug costs are diminished.