Monday, September 8, 2014

Making It Better Monday: Apples


 For the first Making It Better Monday, I have chosen a topic where I can share tips that can help across a variety of areas in our lives: Apples!  In western NY, this is the start of apple season and this year the farmers are reporting a better than average yield.  My favorite apples, SweeTango, are ready now and my favorite farm, Whittier Fruit Farm, has them available for picking for the first time this year.  Last year, they were only available to buy in stores or already picked at the farm markets and farm stands.  That means that today we went apple picking :)

Here are some ways apples can help improve your life:

Health: Apples are super healthy and nutritious.  You can read one of my old posts about the nutrition in apples.  Picking apples is good exercise, too, especially if you walk out to the trees and back.  It incorporates stretching and weights, along with cardiovascular when you include the walking.  Bring a small child that you can lift to pick those apples that are just out of your reach and you increase the health benefit as well.

Emotions: Most of us have at least one happy memory that is linked through apples in some form.  Maybe it was apple picking with our family, making applesauce with our grandmother, or eating apple pie at a holiday.  Chances are, that memory is triggered when you find yourself even thinking about an apple.  Being nostalgic is a great way to brighten your mood.  Also, apple picking, gets you out in the sun so your body can produce vitamin D, which is proven to lift our moods.

Relationships: There are so many ways that apples can help build any family relationship, starting with picking them.  Working together to pick the apples will likely bring you closer together. Making and canning apple sauce or apple pie filling is a great way to spend the day with someone.  You can also make an apple pie to deliver to or share with someone you care about.  A couple of years ago, I bought a couple of several varieties of apples and did an apple tasting with my family.  I wrote up a chart and gave a copy to each person.  On the chart was the name of the apple and spots for the color, texture, flavor and personal rating level of each apple. One at a time, I cut the apples into wedges and each person got one wedge of each apple.  We filled in our charts and discovered what each persons' favorite apple variety was.  Now when I go to buy apples, I know exactly what each person in my house likes and doesn't like.

Financial: If you buy apples in season, they can help you stretch your budget.  They are also easy to process and can or freeze, so that you can enjoy apples year-round, without breaking your budget.  If you store them in a dark, cool room, they store for quite a while, too.  If storing them, the thicker the skin and the tarter the flavor, the longer they will last.  Also, be sure there are no bruises or bad spots on any of the apples, as that will cause them to spoil quicker and if an otherwise good apple touches a rotting or bruised spot on another apple, it will cause you to lose both apples.  Picking your own apples will also help you save some money.  When we go apple picking, I pick up about 20-40 pounds, depending on my budget at that time.  We eat plenty right away, store the best ones for later eating, bake some into treats like apple pie, apple muffins, and baked apples, and can some as applesauce and apple pie filling.  This year, I am hoping to make apple cider vinegar from the cores and peels left over as well.  Which leads to the next area.

Greener living: Apples are natural and better for the environment than any factory-processed food.  If they are organic, they are even more environmentally-friendly.  If you pick the apples yourself, you are also cutting down on emissions from buying apples that may have been trucked in from further away.  Apples also create zero waste in the long-run.  If you do not want to make the apple cider vinegar I wrote about, you can check out 14 additional ways to use them at Yellow Birch Hobby Farm's blog or you can throw them in your compost pile or even in the trash.  If they go to the landfill, they will likely become food for the wildlife or compost away to nothing rather soon.

So there you have it, apples can help improve your health, emotions, relationships, finances and environment.  Some of the impacts may be small, but it is by small things, that great things are made.

PS- I always include a disclaimer when I include links that are affiliate links or paid links.  I want to let you know that none of these links fall in those categories.  The apples and farm are truly my favorites and the other links are sites that I will be using.

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