Saturday, March 7, 2009

A big apple

No, this time I'm not talking about New York City; I'm talking about a ginormous mutant apple that we recently found at Whole Foods. (This picture was not doctored up other than blurring my little guy.) Believe it or not, it was really crispy and sweet; the three of us dipped slices in almond butter and we were good for several hours.

Apples, even though best in season (the fall), are available all year round. Local ones are usually best, not only because we're all trying to decrease our carbon footprint, but also because they've been exposed to the least abuse via transport and temperature changes. I prefer organic to conventional, because those pesticide residues not only hide out on the skin (especially the dimpled parts), but those toxins land on the whole tree and seep into the ground, becoming part of our ecosystem: in the soil where the trees grow (making the INSIDE of the apples affected with the pesticides, not just the skin), in the groundwater, and on the foods eaten by birds, deer, and small mammals.

Does an apple a day keep the doctor away? No one is really sure (but I do enjoy following this blog -- written by a woman who eats an apple every day). But it certainly can't hurt to follow this advice. Apples are chock full of both types of fiber, but is a particularly good source of soluble fiber, the kind that helps lower your cholesterol. This fiber, called pectin, also provides bulk and digests slowly, helping us feel fuller longer. Apples also have antioxidants called flavonoids, which protect the heart even further and may help decrease inflammation.

Here are my 5 favorite ways to eat apples (other than simply "out of hand"):

1. Slice it up and dip into almond or peanut butter.
2. Chop into small pieces, grab a couple of spoonfuls of raisins or currants, and cook along with whole breakfast grains like oats and barley. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and eat.
3. (This one is great for apples that are past their prime but not "bad.") Dice into cubes and place in small pot. Add a bit of water, cinnamon, and some agave nectar and simmer for 8-10 minutes. While apple cooks, soak a handful of raisins in hot water. When apple is done, drain raisins and toss with cornstarch. Add raisins to apple mixture and boil for a few seconds, until thickened. Use as a topping for whole-grain waffles or pancakes, or as a whole grain crepe filling.
4. Slice thin, sprinkle on cinnamon, and dry in a desiccator.
5. Throw apple slices into a vita-mix with 1/2 frozen banana, 1 cup frozen berries, and 1 cup hemp milk.

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