Winter Produce Guide: Apples

By Anastassia Skarlinski

Although apples are available in stores year-round, February marks the end of the season for North Carolina. There are 9,000 commercial apple orchards in the state, making North Carolina the seventh-largest apple producer in the United States. Amazingly, there are over 7,000 apple varieties available worldwide. North Carolina primarily grows Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Rome Beauty, and Galas.

Interest has emerged in preserving “heritage” apple varieties. These are the apples that fell out of favor, as they were not as commercially viable. A North Carolinian, Tom Brown, has been finding and preserving some of these fascinating varieties. To date, he has discovered over 1,000 different types of forgotten apples. Alternatively, new varieties are constantly being developed and showing up in produce aisles. Everyone knows Honeycrisp, but other newcomers are Ambrosia, Cripps Pink, Cosmic Crisp, and Lady Alice. Whether old standards, heritage, or new, all apples have a lot to offer.

One medium apple offers around 20% of your recommended daily fiber. Eat your apple with the skin on to get the most fiber available. Fiber helps your body in many different ways. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that your body is unable to digest. It comes in two different varieties, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers dissolve into a gel in water. They can help control blood sugar and cholesterol. Soluble fibers are found in fruits, beans, and nuts. Apples are particularly high in a type of soluble fiber known as pectin. Pectin is also a prebiotic and helps feed the good bacteria in your gut. Insoluble fibers do not dissolve in water—they pass through humans mostly whole. As such, they help food move through your digestive system. Insoluble fibers are found in wheat, brown rice, beans, and many vegetables.

Apples are rich in other nutritional benefits as well. They are a good source of a kind of antioxidants called polyphenols. Antioxidants float around and pick up free radicals in your bloodstream, elements that can cause inflammation and other kinds of oxidative stress. Apples are also rich in Vitamin C, Potassium, Vitamin K, and copper.

Whatever variety you pick, sweet or sour, new, old, or standard, an apple is a good addition to your day. You can eat them out of hand, sliced on a sandwich, or chopped into a salad. Or you can try them in this slow hands-off breakfast recipe.

Apple Pie Overnight Oats-Single Serving

  • 1/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp apple pie spice
  • Pinch of salt
  • ½ cup milk of your choice (almond, cow, soy etc…)
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1 to 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp chopped walnuts
  • 1 Tbsp dried craisins of raisins

In a bowl, mix oats with salt and spices. Place in the bottom of a 16 oz sealable container. Layer the remaining ingredients in the order listed; milk, apple, sugar, chia, yogurt, nuts, and dried fruit. Seal and place in the refrigerator overnight, or up to 5 days. Stir and enjoy!

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