Healthy Apple Salads: Field Trip to Michigan

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” The old adage may actually have some truth to it. Although apples don’t have much Vitamin C, they have other health benefits. A couple of weeks ago I made a trip to Michigan where I lived for several years. I loved Michigan autumns with its burst of color; and remember apple orchards, fresh apple cider and  varieties of apples that you don’t find here.

Braeburn apples - IMG_3084_1

Our trip was in the middle of February and we found Michigan to be cold, with lots of snow. We visited a ski resort and I wandered down an old road behind the ski slopes. Look closely to see the skiers.

snow scene in Michigan - 2 - IMG_2814_1

February is not apple season, however, Michigan apples were in the grocery stores. Growers hold apples in storage at low oxygen and temperature levels, extending the time that apples are available in stores. I returned with a basket each of Braeburn, Jonathan and McIntosh apples–some of the ones I remembered.

Apple varieties have different qualities. Braeburn apples (actually from the state of Washington) have a very fragrant aroma; Jonathan apples hold their shape when baked and McIntosh apples a good when eaten fresh. These apples are a little smaller than ones found in grocery stores here. All are tart and crisp, with a hefty zing.

Healthy Apple Salads 

The health benefits of apples include fiber and phytochemicals–flavonoids which give coloring to the apple skin. The flavonoids have antioxidant properties and other chemicals which may give some protection for chronic diseases–diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. We eat more apples than any other fruit other than oranges and much of the flavoniods in our diet is from apples. Needless to say, there is much research interest in apples.

There are countless ways to cook and use apples–from apple pie to plain sliced apples to apple cider.

The challenge with my Michigan apples was to make an apple salad with a low-fat dressing, leaving the colorful apple skins on. I used plain, low-fat yogurt to replace part of the mayonnaise or whipped cream often used in traditional dressings and added a little sugar to help compensate for the tartness of the yogurt. The results are very tasty, low-fat salad.

Apple & Kohlrabi Salad with Yogurt Dressing.

The first recipe dressing is: 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt, 2 Tbsp canola oil, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, 1 Tbsp sugar, 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley, 1 clove garlic, finely minced. Blend these ingredients together and pour over 2 cups diced apples with skins – I used Jonathan apples, and 1/2 cup peeled kohlrabi cut in match sticks. Serve on fresh lettuce leaves. This salad dressing gives enough flavor to complement the apples and let the flavor of the apples show.
apple salad one - IMG_3105_1

Apple, Orange and Kohlrabi Salad with Yogurt Dressing

I added oranges to this salad and added just a little mayonnaise to the plain low-fat yogurt to add to the flavor. I liked the sweetness of this salad: For the dressing: 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt, 2 Tbsp mayonnaise, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice and 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley. Blend together and pour over: 1 orange, peeled and sectioned, 1 cup diced apples with skin–I used McIntosh, and 1/2 cup kohlrabi peeled and cut in match sticks.

apple and orange salad with yogurt dressing - IMG_3421_1

What is Kohlrabi?

I’d never heard of kohlrabi until I found some little seedlings at the garden center and decided to try to grow it. I planted it last fall in my garden where it has been all winter. It has a mild but pungent taste and added a crunchy texture to the apple salad. Kohlrabi is a very different and interesting vegetable and I’ll need to find some more recipes to use the rest of the plants. Celery would be a substitute if kohlrabi wasn’t available.

kolariabi - 2 - IMG_3406_1

There’s lots of apple trivia–Washington is the largest producer of apples; most of our imported apples are from Argentina and China produces the most apples. Fortunately, we have apples year-around. This fresh versatile fruit can add significantly to a healthy life-style.


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