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.
* 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.