It’s Apple Season!

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Apples are popular, ranking amongst the top three fruits consumed in the U.S. Maybe that’s because they’re delicious, affordable, portable, and only require washing before eating. Now’s the time to visit an apple orchard or discover a lesser-known variety at a farmers’ market. Some orchards grow over 100 different types!

Fortunately, apples remain available at markets all year long. To prolong freshness, store them in a crisper drawer for up to two months. The cold temperature slows down the production of a gas called ethylene, which speeds up ripening.

Ever wondered if the old proverb, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is accurate? While there are no guarantees, apples certainly have health benefits, especially when eaten with the skin on. The skin provides much of the fiber, which helps with digestive health and lowers LDL, or “bad” cholesterol. Fiber also helps to satisfy hunger, and keeps you full longer between meals.

Apples contain a natural plant chemical called quercetin, and vitamin C. A diet rich in these compounds has been shown to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Naturally sweet with a “good-for-you” bonus, fruit is a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth. This sliced apple recipe uses fiber-rich dates as a spread. Makes a satisfying snack or lighter dessert with no added processed sugar.

Apple date spread

Apple Slices with Date Spread and Roasted Pecans

1 cup pitted dates

1/3 cup hot water

¼ teaspoon salt

4 medium apples, pitted and sliced into 1-inch wedges

½ cup finely chopped roasted pecans

If your pecans are raw, roast them in a skillet or in the oven. Place pecans in a blender or food processor and chop to a fine consistency. Set aside. Add dates and salt to blender or food processor and blend on high while gradually adding water, until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.

Dip apple slices in orange juice to keep them from browning. Apply date spread over half of the apple slice and roll in nuts.

Margie Mansure is an extension agent with N.C. Cooperative Extension. As a registered dietitian/nutritionist chef, she offers nutrition and cooking classes to community members. margie_mansure@ncsu.edu