CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When there's a slight chill in the air and leaves have turned to the brilliant, varying shades of red and gold that are found among the apple skins, it's time to dust off our apple recipes.
The virtues of consuming fresh apples are many. "Keeping the doctor away" isn't just a myth. Apples can help control weight gain, lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Although the flesh is the most delicious part, the skin is the most nutritious.
One of apple's soluble fibers is pectin, which reduces the amount of cholesterol production, slows digestion and limits the rise of blood sugar, making it ideal for diabetics.
As with all fruits, it's advised in a diabetic diet to eat the fruit rather than drink the juice, even though the juice is allowed. You get the fiber and chew factor, which are more satisfying.
Not content with just holding back the doctor, the dentist is also in the apple's crosshairs. Dubbed "nature's toothbrush," apples help clean teeth and reduce mouth bacteria.
Apples are always best enjoyed in their natural uncooked state, but on occasion, a dish of warm apple dessert, alone or topped with a dollop of frozen yogurt or whipped topping, can be bliss.
Bread pudding is a homey dessert with nothing fancy-schmancy going on except for cinnamon and fruit goodness in a baked light custard.
Today's recipe is made with only one added tablespoon of sugar, because the apples and bread are sweet to begin with. Walnuts are tossed in for texture, crunch and the added nutrients that nuts bring to the table.
The tiny walnut is a powerhouse source of omega-3, a fatty acid that can't be produced by our body. They also contain antioxidants to support the immune system, and other properties that induce a good night's sleep, and improve elasticity in blood vessels.
Wow! How can those two foods that do all that work still end up tasting so good?
The nutrition numbers aren't bad in the cinnamon bread alone so it will be easy to make the remainder of the loaf disappear, a slice or two at a time, after using just four of them for the pudding.
For a quick open-face apple snack, spread a little peanut butter on a slice of (toasting optional) cinnamon bread, and top with thinly sliced apple (or pear).
In a day or two, whisk together some liquid egg substitute, a splash of fat-free half and half, and a tad of vanilla. Dip the bread, coating each side and brown in melted butter or buttery spread. Did someone say "cinnamon French toast"?
Apple-Walnut Bread Pudding
Makes 9 servings.
1 tablespoon Smart Balance buttery spread or butter