Clementines make a perfect snack

Citrus fruits are in plentiful supply at this time of year. Navel oranges, grapefruit, and other varieties are available at reasonable prices. And those cute, little clementines that come in wooden boxes or mesh bags are becoming more popular with shoppers because of their small size, sweet taste, few seeds, and easy-to-peel skin.

With only 35 calories per fruit, clementines offer a healthy snack or meal addition that both children and adults can enjoy. These tasty packages of nutrition are not only low in calories, but are also low in sodium and a source of heart-healthy vitamin C, potassium, folate, and fiber.

Besides being healthy to eat, clementines are versatile, too, and can be enjoyed in many ways.

  • For breakfast, lunch, after-school treats, or midday snacks, just peel and eat. What could be easier than that, especially when time is short? Keep a bowl of clementines out on the table or countertop to encourage healthy snacking.
  • When enjoying a favorite hot or cold cereal, add clementine slices for a sweet treat. No need for added sugar with the natural sweetness of this fruit.
  • For a salad or side dish, combine cut-up clementines with a selection of berries, or chopped apples and dates. Or, add the fruit to mixed greens and then drizzle with just enough honey-mustard dressing to coat the salad.
  • As a dessert, a clementine parfait can be prepared easily by layering a fat-free yogurt and your choice of low-fat granola or puffed cereal, and chopped nuts.

Need more ideas? Visit Bon Appétit for a salad with clementines, fennel and avocado. And check out EveryDay with Rachael Ray for a tasty combination of clementines and ricotta cheese.

Enjoy these little darlings soon.

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An apple a day: apple season is around the corner

One of the great joys of fall is biting into a fresh, crisp, juicy apple. Yum! Nothing beats it for a snack on a sunny, autumn afternoon. Apples are not only a tasty treat but also healthy and full of nutrients.

A medium apple provides about 4 grams of fiber and a good supple of vitamin C. The soluble fiber in apples (pectin) can help reduce LDL cholesterol, the type that clogs up our arteries. Apples also contain a compound called quercetin that acts as an antioxidant, helping to decrease inflammation.

When choosing apples, look for those that are firm, brightly colored, and free from bruises. Keep the apples cool when storing as the fruit ripens quickly at room temperature. Of course, a bowl of apples freshly washed and placed on the kitchen table is a great way to get the family to reach for fruit when hungry for a snack.

The rest of the apples can be stored in the fridge either in the fruit crisper or in perforated plastic bags. For long-term storage, keep the apples in a dark, cool humid area, approximately 32-40 degrees. Or, place the apples in the garage or basement if the temperature is appropriate.

There are many ways to enjoy this fall fruit besides out-of-hand. Cut apples are another way to partake of this fruit‘s bounty. To prevent browning on freshly cut fruit, sprinkle with sugar or dip in lemon, lime, or orange juice. Dipping in a carbonated white soda such as Sprite will protect the apples from browning without adding any extra flavor.

Try chopped apples in cabbage or broccoli slaws. Or, mix cut apples with yogurt and then sprinkle with cinnamon–a yummy treat as a salad or dessert! And don’t forget about the traditional baked apple which smells just wonderful while baking in the oven.

Apples come in many varieties. Golden Delicious does not brown readily when sliced and is a mellow apple that cooks well, too. Granny Smith is juicy, crunchy, and tart, perfect for salads or eating out-of-hand. Fuji and Gala apples are sweet and flavorful for salads or sauce. Another tart apple, also suitable for applesauce is the McIntosh variety. Or, try the Honeycrisp for a really sweet treat.

Gee, almost time for my apple break! I think I will crunch on a sliced Golden Delicious apple, sprinkled with cinnamon. Won’t you join me?