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Autumn is harvest time and I’m getting a load of wonderful fruits and vegetables with my weekly CSA delivery. This time of year also ushers in change, and what better way to embrace this change than to focus on nature’s abundance and our own health. Michelle at theaccidentalscientist is hosting this month’s Heart of the Matter blogging event (HotM). The fall theme is Protecting Your Heart While Preserving the Harvest. Check Michelle’s blog next week for a round-up of recipes from this tasty little subculture of heart-healthy food bloggers.

I love having nutritious snacks on hand when I’m out on the trail, but it’s next to impossible to cart around fresh fruit in a backpack. Plus, I like to bring food that is light-weight and easy to stuff into a pack.

Dehydrated apple slices have become a favorite of mine. Remember that old saying — an apple a day keeps the doctor away?

Well, your grandmother was right. Apples are full of antioxidant flavonoids, boasting a very high concentration of quercetin, catechin, phloridzin, vitamin C, and chlorogenic acid. Trust me, those are all good things. Apples also contain both insoluble and soluble fiber (for a detailed explanation of fiber, check here). The insoluble fiber in apples helps ferry out the bad cholesterol (LDL) hanging out in your digestive tract. The soluble fiber helps get rid of LDL produced by the liver. Both of these actions reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke by lowering total cholesterol levels. Studies show people on high-fiber diets have less coronary artery disease than people on low-fiber diets. If that’s not enough, the flavonoids (especially quercetin) demonstrate significant anti-inflammatory ability that protect our arteries. Many of these heart-healthy substances are in the skin, so eat the whole thing, skin and all (not the seeds as they contain some toxic compounds).

Don’t substitute apple juice for the real thing or you’ll lose the majority of antioxidants. It’s always best to go back to the source. Fresh is better, but when you have an abundance of apples and you want to save some for later, dehydrating is a good way to do it. This method doesn’t subject food to the same high temperatures that canning or processing does, so the nutrient value is much better.

dehydrated apples
* These dehydrating times and temperatures are based on my store-bought Excalibur Dehydrator. Times and temperatures may vary.

what you need
several washed, cored and thinly sliced apples
lemon juice or vitamin C ascorbic acid to prevent over-browning (this isn’t necessary, but it does make the apple slices look a little better)

what you do
soak apple slices in vitamin C bath for 10 to 15 minutes
drain and place on dehydrator trays according to manufacturer directions
temperature: 135 degrees
time: 7 – 8 hours until leathery
place in tightly sealed ziplock bags and store in cool, dark place

Stick to that apple a day rule and you’ll cut your risk of heart disease.


9 Responses to “an apple a day for heart health”

  1. Shirley says:

    I love apples and eat one pretty much every day, usually as part of my breakfast. However, I confess I have never gotten into dried apples or baked apples. I think I must have had some bad “texture experience” as a child. LOL This recipe makes me want to try them dried.

    BTW, I have an autumn centerpiece on my dining room table that I just put out for our support group meeting last week. As part of its display, it holds 11 apples. Now it’s down to 7. 😉

  2. Melissa says:

    Hi Shirley — I have to agree, I’d rather have a fresh apple than a dried one, but the dehydrated ones come in handy when you need a snack and can’t get the “real” thing. Yeah, a centerpiece like yours wouldn’t last long in my house either!

  3. Lizzie says:

    Those look great!

    My sister has an Excalibur — I am totally passing along this recipe to her.

    I don’t know if you have any idea why, but I can’t eat the skins of raw apples without my mouth getting itchy and swelling. Strangely enough, my sister can’t either. Cooked apples I can do, I would imagine dehydrated apples are in the same boat.

  4. Kate says:

    You know, I wasn’t a fan of dried veggies/fruits until I started making my own. I have the Excalibur as well and I love it. That and my Food Saver (vacuum sealer) and Food Mill have made it possible for me to enjoy local fruits and veggies all winter long… all of which are, of course, inherently GF.

  5. Melissa says:

    Lizzie — Do you get hay fever symptoms at certain times of the year? There’s a protein in the apple skin that can cause that whole itchy mouth thing. There’s a connection with pollen as well.

    What about melons? Does it happen when you eat melons too (like cantalope)? Yea, unfortunately, you either have to cook the apples or peel them. I’m not sure dehydrating them would do the trick. It might not be at a high enough temperature. I guess you’ll have to give it a try. Hey, people are paying large sums of money to have those big, puffy lips.

    Kate — YES, I love my Excalibur dehydrator. I dehydrate everything in there including chile mac with ground bison. It makes for great backpacking food!

  6. Lizzie says:

    I totally have issues with hay fever! I was diagnosed with asthma as a kid and would get asthma attacks only during the Spring/Summer. This makes so much sense!

    I can’t say I have issues with melons, though I’m not a big fan of them, so it’s hard to say.

    Have I told you lately how much I appreciate your blog? 🙂

  7. Melissa says:

    Lizzie — thanks! And I appreciate your blog as well. Or is it Henry’s blog?

  8. Kate says:

    (by the way, I am the sister Lizzie speaks of)

    I just made the apples today. I sprinkled a third with cinnamon. The house smells wonderful and the dehydrated apples are quite tasty. Thanks for posting this!

  9. Melissa says:

    Hey Kate — nice to “meet” you. I love Lizzie! And Henry, of course. I tried a dusting of cinnamon on my dehydrated apples once and it didn’t work very well. The spice was just “dried” and not part of the apple. Then I tried soaking them in a spice “bath” and that didn’t work either. Let me know how you did yours.

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