With cold weather either arriving or already here in different parts of the country, many of the fruits we have enjoyed over the summer are on their way out. However, fall brings a new set of delicious offerings that are important for health. Eating produce that is in season has the advantages of being cheaper and more nutritious since the fruits will be at their peak freshness. The following examples are just a few of the items that are available at this time of the year.
Who does not love a homemade apple pie? Apples can be easily packed as part of lunch. Apple slices with a spoon of peanut butter can be a healthier alternative to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as an afterschool snack. There is an apple for everyone whether you like the tartness of Granny Smith apples or the sweet aroma of a Red Delicious apple. Apples have fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants that may help reduce the risk of cancer. Choose apples that are firm with minimal blemishes.
Pears are wonderful fresh. Try slicing and sprinkling with a spoon of shredded cheddar cheese or baking and drizzling with a little honey and cinnamon. Like apples, pears come in a variety of types such as Asian, Bosc, or Anjou. Pears provide fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals. Pears are usually picked before they ripen because the flesh becomes more gritty or mushy if they ripen on the tree. Pears will ripen more quickly if stored in a paper bag or next to bananas. Pick pears that have no broken skin or bruising. Depending on the type of pear, it should either be firm or just slightly soft to the touch.
Grapes are an easy snack or dessert. For a kid-friendly treat, try placing some grapes in the freezer. You can toss them into a salad either fresh or dried as raisins. Grapes are a great source for anti-oxidants and vitamin C. One anti-oxidant found in grapes that is under study is a chemical called resveratrol which is found in the skin. Resveratrol is currently associated with lower rates of cancer and heart disease. Resveratrol is thought to contribute to the French Paradox which is the observation that while the French diet is high in fat, heart disease is relatively low. As the French diet includes more wine, the French diet is higher in resveratrol which is released from the grape skins into the wine during the production process. While wine should not be recommended for everyone and should only be taken in moderation if imbibed, even the pickiest child usually likes grapes. Buy grapes that are firm and plump.
Sprinkle some seeds on a salad for a glistening jewel-like garnish that packs a flavor punch. Pomegranates contain vitamin C, potassium, iron, and anti-oxidants. Pomegranates may be helpful in reducing cancer and heart disease risk. When opened, the pomegranate has hundreds of arils which are the seeds surrounded by the pulp and casing. To remove the arils from the inner membrane, put sections of the pomegranate in a bowl of water and separate with your fingers. The arils are eaten whole including the seeds. The best pomegranates are shiny and heavy.
Fall brings its own bounty of fruits for us to enjoy. If you have never tried a pomegranate, now is the perfect opportunity. Figs and persimmons are also available. For a fun and educational outing with the kids, you may even want to consider taking them apple picking. They will be more likely to eat the apples if they picked the fruit themselves and will learn about where food comes from. Have a happy harvest!
Published On: October 27, 2008