Thanks to Johnny Appleseed, apples are one of the most popular fruits in the U.S. In fact, today, there are more than 2,500 varieties, making it easy to find an apple to tickle just about anyone’s fancy!
And regardless of which variety you choose, be assured that research shows that eating an apple a day can truly help to “keep the doctor away.” That’s because apples are full of healthy nutrients such as vitamin A, iron and calcium, as well as other important antioxidants that help to protect against disease and combat free radicals. Additionally, the phytonutrients and fiber in apples helps to promote digestive health and contributes to lowering blood sugar and blood cholesterol levels.
Of course, eating a fresh-picked, raw apple is certainly the best way to take advantage of all its health benefits. (For an extra special treat, I like to pair raw apple slices with a healthy dip like my sweet-n-nutty mock “caramel” apple dip recipe below.) However, for those of you who love cooked apples – don’t worry – many of the nutritional benefits are still retained even when they’re cooked.
So, why not arrange a fun family outing to go apple picking at a nearby orchard. Or simply pick up a crate of organic apples at your local farmer’s market. And if you’re wondering what to do with all of those crisp, fresh apples, below just a few of my family’s favorite raw and cooked apple recipes perfect for celebrating the bounty of the season:
Healthy “Caramel” Apple Dip
This creamy dip has subtle caramel undertones due to the dates and maple syrup. But its unique nut-buttery flavor comes from soaked raw cashews. It’s hard not to “double-dip!” Enjoy!
1 cup raw cashews
10 whole medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (or raw milk)
3 tbsp pure maple syrup (dark grade B is best)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4-6 organic apples, cored and sliced
Cover the raw cashews with room temp water and allow them to soak for *two hours. At the same, place the whole, pitted dates into a separate bowl, cover with water and allow them to soak for two hours as well.
Once soaking time is completed, drain the cashews and dates. Add them, along with the remaining ingredients, to a blender or Vita-Mix. Blend on medium-high until completely smooth. If the mixture is too thick, add more milk, one tablespoon at a time, until desired thickness is reached.
Place the dip into a small bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with fresh sliced apples. Yum!
*By increasing the soaking time for raw nuts to 7-8 hours, you can significantly reduce the hard to digest enzyme called phytic acid. For information about phytic acid, and the benefits of removing it via soaking and sprouting, check out “How to Soak for Optimal Nutrition.”