While bananas hold the title as America’s favorite fruit, the humble apple comes in at a respectable second place. With a sweet taste and a satisfying crunch, this makes perfect sense. It also doesn’t hurt that they’re a complete bargain in the produce department and stay fresh for a few weeks. What you may not realize is just how nutritious this fruit is. One medium apple is only 95 calories and gives you plenty of fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants. To get more of this fruit in your diet, try these five healthy recipes.
1. Whole-Grain Apple Crumb Muffins
Usually nothing more than sugar and refined flour, muffins are pretty much an excuse to eat cake for breakfast. By dialing back on the sweetness and making some smart ingredient swaps, though, the baked goods can actually be pretty healthy. The Washington Post’s simple recipe uses both fresh apples and applesauce to get great flavor and a moist crumb without needing to add a bunch of fat. Whole-wheat pastry flour is another smart substitution because it gives you the goodness of whole grains without making the muffins heavy.
- 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- ⅓ cup finely chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- ¾ cup unsweetened plain applesauce
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1 medium Golden Delicious apple, cored and cut into ¼-inch chunks
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together all topping ingredients.
In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg to combine. Whisk together brown sugar, oil, and eggs in a separate bowl to combine, then add in the applesauce and vanilla. Stir the flour into the wet ingredients in two additions, alternating with the buttermilk, until just combined. Fold in the chopped apple.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, and sprinkle evenly with topping. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.
Transfer muffin pan to a wire rack, and let cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the muffins, and unmold. Let cool completely. Serve.
2. Spiced Chicken with Apples
Few recipes contain all the components you need to assemble a complete meal, so rare finds like this chicken, chard, and apple dish from Food Network are always welcome. The spices turn what might otherwise taste a little boring into something really special without requiring any more work. If you find yourself with leftovers, slice the chicken and tuck it into a whole-wheat tortilla with some of the greens and apples for an easy lunch the next day.
- 4 (6-ounce) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 Gala apples, cut into wedges
- 1 red onion, sliced
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bunch Swiss card, chopped, stems and leaves separated
Directions: Season chicken with ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper, then sprinkle with allspice and turmeric, dividing evenly. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate, and set aside. Add apples, onion, and a pinch of salt to the same skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.
Add lemon juice to skillet, and cook, scraping up any browned bits, for 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and honey, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Arrange chicken on top of apple mixture. Cover and cook until chicken is fully cooked and sauce is slightly reduced, about 6 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat remaining oil in a separate large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until golden, about 30 seconds. Add chard stems, and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add chard leaves, and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 2 minutes. Serve chard with chicken and apples.
3. Apples, Goat Cheese, and Pecan Pizza
You don’t have to give up pizza to eat well, but you might want to start making it yourself. Baking a pie at home means you can use a whole-grain crust, less cheese, and some way more interesting ingredients. Try it out with Cooking Light’s apple and goat cheese pizza. It’s the perfect combination of savory and sweet, and some toasted pecans add a great crunch. You’ll even get a decent amount of greens thanks to an arugula topping.
Both fruits and vegetables are known for containing tons of disease-fighting nutrients, so this pizza is doubly good. Apples in particular have been linked to anti-cancer benefits. Researchers at Cornell University found certain compounds in apple skins may help reduce the risk of colon, breast, and liver cancers.
- 1 (1-pound) six-grain pizza crust
- Cooking spray
- 3 cups thinly sliced Fuji apple
- 1 cup crumbled goat cheese
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 1½ teaspoons honey
- 2 cups baby arugula
- 3 tablespoons chopped, toasted pecans
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place pizza crust on a greased baking sheet, and arrange apples evenly over the top. Add goat cheese, and sprinkle thyme over top. Bake for 8 minutes, or until cheese melts and begins to brown.
Combine oil, mustard, lemon juice, and honey in a medium bowl, whisking to combine. Add arugula, and toss to coat. Sprinkle pecans over pizza, and top with arugula salad. Cut into 6 wedges and serve.
4. Pork Chops with Apple-Almond Salsa
If you’re sick of fueling yourself with chicken and fish, try pork chops to change things up. They’re still relatively lean, offer tons of protein, and play wonderfully with a variety of flavors. We especially like these chops with an apple and almond salsa from the Almond Board of California. Because the fruit is raw, this dish comes together remarkably fast. You can even use the same pan to toast the almonds before cooking the meat.
Anyone with a family history of heart disease should do what they can to minimize their risk, and recipes with apples can help out. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Functional Food found eating one apple per day can substantially reduce LDL cholesterol. While taking supplements with the same polyphenols also helped, researchers discovered the whole fruit was a better choice. Make sure you leave the skin on for this dish, because its where many of these compounds reside.
- 1 cup chopped green apple
- 1 cup chopped red apple
- ½ cup diced red onion
- ⅓ cup toasted, slivered almonds
- 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt and pepper
- 8 (4-ounce) boneless, center-cut pork chops
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
Directions: In a medium bowl, combine apples, onion, almonds, vinegar, rosemary, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season chops with salt and pepper, and cook without moving for 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until browned. Remove chops from pan, and serve topped with salsa.
5. Apple Salad with Walnuts and Lime
Vegetables get most of the attention when it comes to healthy eating, but skipping out on fruit is a big mistake. While it’s true sugar has been linked to scores of diseases, The New York Times reported the same isn’t true when it comes to the naturally occurring sugars found in fruits. In fact, eating fruit has been linked to a lower body weight and a reduced risk of certain diseases. Plus, eating fruit exposes you to a wider variety of nutrients you may not be getting from just veggies.
Bon Appétit’s juicy apple salad is a great way to start getting more of the sweet produce in your diet. The cool thing about this recipe is it gives a savory spin on fruit salad with the addition of toasted breadcrumbs, herbs, and a bit of cheese. Just add a simply cooked protein to make a complete meal.
- ½ cup walnut halves
- 2 crisp apples, thinly sliced
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup grated provolone cheese or white cheddar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup very coarse, fresh breadcrumbs
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread breadcrumbs on a small rimmed baking sheet, and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes. Let cool.
Meanwhile, spread walnuts on a small rimmed baking sheet, and toast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool, then coarsely chop.
Toss breadcrumbs, walnuts, apples, scallions, parsley leaves, lime juice, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Add cheese and oil, and toss gently to combine. Serve.