The days are getting shorter, the leaves are turning colors, and the weather is getting cooler. Summer has left and fall has finally arrived. Ring in the new season by picking apples with your family. It’s a fun, low-cost activity, and afterward you can prepare fun, healthy apple-themed recipes at home.
According to the Mayo Clinic, apples are a good source of soluble fiber, which can lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Fresh apples are also a good source of vitamin C — an antioxidant that protects your body’s cells from damage. Vitamin C plays a key role in the growth and repair of tissues in your body and aids in the absorption of iron. It is important to eat foods that are rich in Vitamin C since your body isn’t able to make it on its own.
So what are you waiting for? Time to get your family ready for apple picking! Health Advocate offers the following tips on how to make your outing fun.
Visit your local farms. This free resource can help you find farms in your area that allow you to pick your own fruits and veggies: http://www.pickyourown.org/index.htm#states. You can also do a quick Google search to see if your favorite local farm is featuring any pick-your-own fruit or vegetable events. The best time of year to go apple picking may vary a little between regions or states, so use this resource to find out the ideal time for apple-picking in your area: http://www.pickyourown.org/US_crop_harvest_calendars.php
Get your workout on. The weather is not yet cold, so enjoy this opportunity to exercise outdoors as a family. If you really want to burn off some energy, try some friendly competitions in the orchard. See who can pick the most apples in 10 minutes. Do jumping jacks between trees. Or, take a long walk through the orchard with your family.
Think creatively. If you want to encourage your kids to adopt healthier eating habits, get them involved in the kitchen. Put those freshly picked apples to good use. Let your children enjoy the fruits of their labor!
Some fun, healthy apple recipes include:
- Baked apples with cinnamon, honey and raisins
- Homemade apple butter
- Apple sauce
- Cinnamon-apple muffins
- Apple cobbler
- Slice an apple and dip the slices into hummus or a nut butter
- Make baked apple chips: Lay thin apple slices on a baking sheet, sprinkle cinnamon on top, and bake until crisp.
There are so many healthy apple recipes you can make–brainstorm recipes together and have your kids wash the apples and help prepare the ingredients! Plus, you can use this as a teachable moment, telling your kids about the different types of apples available, when they’re in season, and what recipes best bring out their flavors.
Stock up. You can make large batches of applesauce and freeze it so you have a nice stash for the colder months. You don’t need any special equipment to make applesauce. Just core some apples (peeled or unpeeled—your choice), add some cinnamon and perhaps a few tablespoons of water, and cook until soft. Then store it in containers and freeze. Applesauce can be a great healthy dessert or side dish, and it’s easy to pack it into a portable container to put in your child’s lunch bag.
An apple picking outing can be a great outdoor activity for you and your family to share on a weekend to wind down after a busy week of work and school. Try it this fall!
For more healthy, low-cost ideas, check out The Healthcare Survival Guide!