Snow White and Adam and Eve did not have the best of luck with apples. Even Johnny Appleseed couldn’t keep the doctor away when he died of pneumonia. But studies have shown that though an apple a day might not keep the doctor away, they can greatly reduce risk of certain diseases and the need for some medications. No wonder this juicy fruit has been a long time token of respect and gratitude given to teachers. So how to get more apples from your students? Share some apple history, explain their nutritional benefits and show them new ways to eat these tasty treats.
A fruit with a story
Not every fruit has a good story behind it, but this one is worth talking about, at least a little bit, and I bet your students will enjoy it. At first, when Johnny Appleseed spread apples across America, they were a very bitter fruit and not palatable enough to be eaten, so instead they were swigged. On frontiers that didn’t have safe drinking water, they drank apple cider. In other places, they were fermented into the alcoholic form of “hard apple cider.” During prohibition, FBI agents began chopping down these sour, bitter hard cider apple trees in order to prevent consumption of the “hard stuff.” In order to survive, apple growers had to adapt so they started promoting them for their nutritional value instead. Hence the proverb “an apple a day, helps keep the doctor away.” Through natural and artificial selection, the sweet apple as we know it today has made its stamp in the culinary world.
Apples for health
Apples are full of vitamin C, and as the seasons are changing, your students might need a good boost of this to keep their immune systems strong. Vitamin C is an important ingredient for healthy skin and will help fight against the awkwardly embarrassing acne. How cool is it that your students might actually be able to improve their skin by eating more vitamin C and possibly even improve their confidence?
- Apples have a good amount of fiber, which slows the rate at which sugars are released into the blood stream.
- This is helpful in weight loss, maintaining a stable energy level and promoting digestive regularity.
- Fiber is largely contributive to a healthy heart, because it lowers cholesterol levels naturally.
- Due to the fiber’s anti-inflammatory abilities and the large amounts of antioxidants, particularly polyphenols, the fruit is a great shield against cancer.
- While apple juice tastes great and still contains some vitamins and minerals, eating the apple whole is a much more nutritive option, because it contains fiber and the many nutrients in the skin of the apple.
Also found in apples are a load of potassium. Potassium benefits our heart and kidneys. It has been known to reduce anxiety and stress, and even help strengthen muscles and regulate fluids in our body. Apples have even been said to improve symptoms of asthma, improve moods and decrease the risk of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s.
Upon first bite, apples are already helping us out. They have shown to actually help keep our teeth clean by removing plaque. The astringent quality in their skin helps kill bacteria and reduce tooth decay. Of course nothing can maintain a healthy smile like a good old-fashioned toothbrush, but apples are useful in maintaining their pearly whites. Apples (particularly green apples) are often used as a palate cleanser. After eating, pass around apple slices and have your students notice the clean mouthfeel.
So what to do with them?
Apples are such an easy item for your students to throw in their backpack and eat at lunch or as a snack. It sounds strange, but this is a fruit that is easy to eat in its natural form. It’s not messy when eating, doesn’t require silverware, and doesn’t damage easily when transporting. Help your students realize how easy it can be to eat well without needing to deal with extensive preparation!
And apples can be fun to cook with too- all day, any day, any meal, and at any course. So what can you do with them? Here we go: poach, steam, stew, bake, caramelize, braise, purée, put them on a spread, use them as a crudité. . . you get the idea, the options are kind of endless.
This first recipe is a super simple way to make a grilled cheese a healthier option. Use whole grain bread, “real” unprocessed cheese, and sneak fruit and vegetables into a normally fruitless sandwich. . . because let’s face it, nobody wants to give up a creamy grilled cheese delight. The second recipe can be used as a dessert, snack, and side dish or as a condiment. This might be a good way to let your students experience apples in a new way, which a completely different flavor profile than what the ordinary apple can provide.
Apple Grilled Cheese
- 2 slices whole wheat bread
- ½ granny smith apple, sliced thin
- 2 slices Swiss cheese
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- pinch of cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup onions, thinly sliced
- Heat 1 tsp of oil in a pan on medium high heat. When hot, add the onions to caramelize, stirring occasionally until golden brown. Cover and set aside.
- Brush the remaining oil on one side of both pieces of bread and sprinkle the cinnamon and salt on the oiled side of bread.
- Flip one piece of bread over and layer the apple slices and caramelized onions in between the pieces of cheese. Put the other piece of bread on top with the oiled side up.
- With the stove on medium-low heat, place the sandwich on a pan and carefully flip over once the bottom piece of bread starts to brown. Remove from the pan once both sides are browned and the cheese is melted.
Yield: about 2 cups
- 5 pound apples, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, with the skin left on
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 2 tbs fresh ginger, minced
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- ½ cup honey
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries (unsweetened)
- 1/2 teaspoon whole mustard seed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Bring all ingredients to a boil in a large saucepan and then reduce to a simmer until the mixture thickens and the apples are soft (about 45 minutes).