It is Fall in Northern Michigan which means it is apple harvest time! You know what they say about apples and doctors. This adage has been put to the test many times over the years. An apple a day doesn’t mean you get to skip out on regular preventative appointments, but research has shown that daily apple eaters appear to use fewer prescription medications.
A 2020 article in Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition that included 16 studies, found many heart-related benefits for those who include apples in their diet. Eating one medium apple a day may help lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and inflammation according to the article. Unpeeled apples are a good source of fiber and compounds called polyphenols that benefit heart health.
Apples are abundant in Northern Michigan this time of year and there is nothing better than taking a big bite out of a crisp apple fresh from the orchard. You don’t have to eat apples plain to get health benefits, below are some heart healthy easy and delicious recipes to help add apples to your diet.
Honey-Vanilla Yogurt Dip
This easy dip isn’t just for apples. It is delicious with bananas, strawberries, peaches, and most other fruits. Try making a fruit parfait by creating layers of the dip, fruit and low-fat granola as a quick breakfast or snack any time of the day.
Mix 1-1/2 cup fat-free, plain Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon of honey and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. It is that simple!
For added flavor you can add a tablespoon of apple pie spice. Want to make your own apple pie spice? Mix 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon, 1/4 tablespoon nutmeg, 1/8 tablespoon allspice and 1/8 tablespoon cardamom.
This is a quick and tasty treat, a perfect midday snack that is easy to make. You can substitute any dried fruit or nuts and seeds that you would like. Make sure that the dried fruit is unsweetened, and the nuts and seeds are unsalted.
- 3 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4-1/3 cup dried unsweetened cranberries or raisins
- 1/4 -1/3 cup sliced or chopped unsalted almonds or walnuts
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds.
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/4 cup smooth low-sodium peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey
- Mix the dried fruit, nuts, and seeds in a small bowl.
- Layer half the apples on a large plate or platter. Sprinkle with lemon juice to keep from browning.
- Microwave 2 tablespoons of water in a small bowl on high power until boiling. Add in peanut butter and honey, stirring until smooth.
- Drizzle half the peanut butter mixture over the apple slices. Sprinkle half the dried fruit mixture and then layer the remaining apples.
- Drizzle second apple layer with the peanut butter mixture and sprinkle the remaining dried fruit mixture over all of it.
- For variety, you can add low-fat granola or unsweetened shredded coconut
Oven Baked Fall Goodness
With fall comes cool nights and there is nothing better than the smell of apple desserts in the oven. Below are 2 ways to prepare apples for a delicious heart healthy warm fall goodie.
Quick Apple Crisp (serves 6)
An easy and quick recipe for a heart healthy apple crisp. Serve as is or dust with powdered sugar or drizzle with one of the icing ideas at the end of this article.
- 1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup quick oats
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 pounds apples (about 6, medium sized)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- In a small bowl, mix graham cracker crumbs, oats, and brown sugar.
- Wash and peel apples. Quarter them, cut out core and seeds. Slice apple quarters.
- Spread apples in a 12×8 inch baking pan.
- Add 1/2 cup water to the pan.
- Sprinkle cinnamon and topping mixture over apples.
- Dot with butter.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes or until apples are soft and topping is browned.
Courtesy of John Hopkins Medicine
Apple Coffee Cake (serves 20)
For less servings, use an 8×8 pan and reduce the ingredient measurements by half. This too can be served plain or dusted with powdered sugar. For a little more sweetness, lightly drizzle one of the icing ideas at the end of the is article.
- 5 cups apples, cored, peeled, and chopped
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup raisins
- 1/2 cup pecans or preferred nut
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
- 1-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Lightly oil a 13x9x2 inch pan
- In a large mixing bowl, combine apples with sugar, raisins, and pecans (nuts) and mix well. Let stand for 30 minutes.
- Stir in oil, vanilla, and egg.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, and cinnamon. Stir into apple mixture about one third at a time. Stirring just enough to moisten dry ingredients.
- Pour batter into pan. Bake 35-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool cake slightly before serving.
Courtesy of National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
Powdered Sugar Icing
For a little added sweetness drizzle icing made with 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla and 1-2 tablespoons of low-fat milk. You may substitute coconut, soy, rice, or almond milk.
Apple Spice Icing: Add 1 teaspoon apple pie spice
Apple Cider Icing: Substitute apple cider for milk and omit the vanilla extract. Add dash of cinnamon if desired.
Chocolate Icing: Add 2-3 tablespoons cocoa powder. May require a little extra milk.
Citrus Icing: Substitute lemon, lime or orange juice for the milk and omit the vanilla extract. Add a little zest if desired.
Almond Icing: Substitute 1/2 teaspoon almond extract for the vanilla extract.
Maple Icing: Substitute 1/2 teaspoon maple extract for the vanilla extract.
Healthier Caramel Sauce
Notice we didn’t say heart healthy, we said healthier. That is because caramel is not considered a heart healthy treat normally. Most caramel sauces use heavy cream and a lot of butter and refined sugar. This recipe is considered healthier because it uses less butter and low-fat milk. It still uses refined sugar, because after all it is caramel. This doesn’t mean you can never have it; just means you indulge once in a while as a treat. You can dip apples in the sauce or drizzle over any of the recipes above.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup 2% milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- In a medium saucepan, heat sugar over low-medium heat. Stir constantly until sugar is melted and medium brown color. Remove pan from heat.
- Add milk and butter to the melted sugar and stir immediately.
- There will be a lot of bubbling! Once bubbles settle down, return pan to stove over low heat.
- Stir until caramel is a smooth syrup.
- Pour sauce in a heat-safe bowl to cool slightly.
Fall Fruit and Produce In Season
Take advantage of fall fruits and produce and make them a part of your heart healthy lifestyle. If you have questions about adopting a heart healthy lifestyle, reach out to your health care team. They can advise you about exercise, diet, risks etc.
Dr. Bobish and her team will listen to you. They focus on preventative care and providing their patients with the tools needed to live a heart healthy lifestyle. Call our office at 989-448-7002 and talk with one of our staff members, you do not need to be referred by a doctor to schedule an appointment.