Apples Give A Healthy Start To A New Year

American Institute for Cancer Research
The Jewish New Year – Rosh Hashanah – features apples and honey rather than champagne and fireworks. Like most New Year’s celebrations, it is a joyous occasion, but just a bit more solemn. It is a time to reflect on the year that’s ending and focus on bringing in a sweet new year.

Families gather for a holiday meal that always includes sweet foods, many of which are tied to the fall harvest. It is a custom to dip wedges of apple, for example, in honey, in hopes of a sweet year.

In addition to apples and honey, traditional Rosh Hashanah foods include roast chicken, beef brisket, kugel (a noodle casserole), sweet potatoes, carrots and prunes. Challah, a rich, slightly sweet, egg bread is also a part of the holiday meal and it, too, is dipped in honey. For Rosh Hashanah, challah isn’t baked in its usual braided form but in a circle, another symbol of the cycle of the year to come. Honey cake and baked goods made with apples also are popular desserts for the two-day holiday.

It may be true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Studies show that apples are the most concentrated food source of flavonoids, a group of phytochemicals, natural substances that help protect against cancer and heart disease, and may block the ability of certain viruses to grow and spread. Much of the flavonoids’ protection against cancer and heart disease seems related to their antioxidant power. Health experts say that if people eat five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, flavonoid consumption could reach a healthy range.

Try these ginger-stuffed baked apples with honey for a happy, healthy new year dessert.

Ginger-Stuffed Baked Apples

  • 4 Rome Beauty apples
  • 1/4 cup crumbled gingersnaps (2-4 cookies)
  • 2 Tbsp. golden raisins
  • 1 Tbsp. dried currants
  • 1 Tbsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. minced crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 4 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 cup apple cider

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Peel apples, removing skin from only the top half of each. Remove the cores from each. Using a scooper or peeler, remove enough flesh from the center of each to make an inch-wide cavity that reaches almost to the bottom. Place apples in an ovenproof dish just large enough to hold them without touching.

In a small bowl, combine gingersnaps, raisins, currants, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom. Spoon mixture into the cavity of each apple. Drizzle a tablespoon of honey over each so it coats the exposed flesh as it drips down. Add cider to the pan.

Bake apples uncovered until soft when pierced with a knife but not collapsing, about 50 to 60 minutes. (After 30 minutes, add more cider if the pan looks dry.)

Cool apples to warm and place in individual bowls or dishes. Spoon some of the liquid from the pan over each apple and serve. Alternately, cool, cover and store them in the refrigerator, up to 3 or 4 days, and bring them back to room temperature before serving.
Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 249 calories, less than 1 g. total fat (0 g. saturated fat), 65 g. carbohydrate, 1 g. protein, 5 g. dietary fiber, 34 mg. sodium.

(Source: Good Food/Good Health, American Institute for Cancer Research-AICR, 09/13/04)