Apples: Getting to the core of healthy eating

Published 4:28 pm Saturday, September 29, 2012

Get to the core of healthy eating by taking a fresh look at apples. Your Hy-Vee produce department stocks an extensive variety of apples and with new U.S. crops arriving in stores, autumn is a great time to appreciate this much-loved fruit.

 A bushel of health benefits

We all know the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and yes, apples can help keep you healthy.

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But you don’t want to avoid the doctor; preventative exams for you are just as important as oil changes for your car.

Apples are nutrient-rich, packed with 4-5 grams of fill-you-up fiber per fruit that plays a role in healthy blood-cholesterol levels. In fact, some research suggests that eating two apples per day can help lower cholesterol levels. And to add to that, crunching an apple satisfies our appetite.

With just 80 calories in a small to medium-sized apple, apples are a snack that can help you maintain a healthy weight.

 Peel appeal

Of course, all produce needs to be washed, but this fruit you don’t want to peel if you don’t have to.  Those colorful red, green or yellow pigments in the peels contain health-protective flavonoids (antioxidant compounds) that may reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as breast, prostate and lung.  Add more color to your meals with apples.

 A walk through a Minnesota-grown orchard

All of these apples are Minnesota grown and can be found in stores now or soon at your local Hy-Vee.  Here are a few favorites:

•SweeTango: this new variety is a cross between a Honeycrisp and a Zestar. Juicy and sweet with crisp crunchiness.

A sweet and tangy flavor great for snacking.

•Honeycrisp: A mild honey-like flavor combined with a crispness explosion.  It’s a cross between a Macoun and a Honeygold.  Great for snacking, salads, making sauce and freezing.  It also is excellent in pie, holding its shape well during baking.

•Haralson: Firm texture with a complex tart flavor, excellent for cooking and especially good in pie.

•Fireside: Sweet flavor and fine-grained flesh great for fresh eating, salads and baked apples.  This apple stores well and also dehydrates well to make apple chips.

•Cortland: An old variety originating in the 1890s.  Cortland has a tender, snow-white flesh that resists browning, making it an excellent choice for salads, kabobs and garnishes.

Apple, brie and bacon breakfast sandwiches

Serves 8 (1/2 cup each)

All you need

Apple, brie and bacon breakfast sandwiches

•8 slices Hy-Vee bacon

•1 medium apple

•12 ounces spreadable Brie cheese, divided

•1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, divided

•4 teaspoons Hy-Vee butter, divided

•8 (1/2-inch thick) slices Baking Stone Rosemary Garlic Bread

All you do

1. In a medium skillet, cook bacon until crisp; drain and set aside.  Core and thinly slice apple, leaving peel on.

2. Top each of 4 bread slices with 1-1/2 ounces Brie, 2 slices bacon, 4 apple slices, ¼ teaspoon fresh thyme and another 1-1/2 ounces Brie.  Top with remaining bread slices.

3. Spread ½ teaspoon butter on the outside of each piece of bread.  Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat.  Add two sandwiches; cook 2 minutes or until bottoms are golden.  Turn sandwiches over and cook another 2 to 3 minutes or until bottoms are golden and cheese is melted.  Repeat with remaining sandwiches.