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Reliable fruit is a good source of fiber, antioxidants

There's a reason for the saying "an apple a day keeps the doctor away." Apples might not be as exotic as papaya or as trendy as pomegranates, but the reliable fruit is a nutritious snack and a valuable addition to any meal.

Apples are a great source of fiber, with five grams in one medium apple, as well as antioxidants, according to the U.S. Apple Board. Fiber may help reduce the risk of heart disease, and both fiber and antioxidants have been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, says the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Snacking on fruit with a high fiber content is also a great way to keep energy up all day long - the fiber helps release the fruit's natural sugars slowly into the bloodstream, avoiding the familiar "sugar high" and energy crash that come with eating candy and other sugary treats.

Of the more than 2,500 different types of apples grown in the U.S., most are harvested in late September and early October. You'll start to see more and more varieties of apples roll into the market all month, so take the chance to try out a few new varieties and work an apple into every meal of the day.

Cider-Baked

Chicken and Sausage

1 large onion, cut into eighths

1 large lemon, sliced into rounds

2 cups apple cider

1⁄4 cup olive oil

1⁄4 cup chopped fresh sage, plus more for garnish

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 bay leaves

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 chicken legs

4 chicken thighs

1 12-ounce package chicken-apple sausage

2 large apples, each sliced into eighths

1 pound small, red skinned potatoes, halved

Place a gallon size heavy-duty zip-top bag into a large bowl. Place the onion and next nine ingredients into the zip-top bag, combining well. Add the chicken and chicken-apple sausage to the marinade. Close the bag, place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 450 F. Arrange the chicken pieces in a large roasting pan skin-side up. Pour all of the marinade, including onions and lemons, over and around the pieces. Tuck the sausages, apples and potatoes around the chicken. Cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, turning sausages about halfway through to cook evenly. Arrange chicken, sausages and potatoes on a platter and sprinkle with chopped fresh sage.

Makes seven servings.

Source: U.S. Apple Association

Apple-Turkey Burgers with Cranberry- Apple Salsa

For the salsa:

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 sweet apples, peeled, cored and chopped (about 2 cups)

1 cup whole cranberry sauce

1⁄2 cup scallions, finely chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

For the burgers:

1 pound ground turkey

1 large apple, grated

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cooking spray

4 2-ounce whole wheat hamburger buns, toasted

To prepare salsa, combine sugar, cider vinegar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add half of the chopped apples, stirring well; cover and reduce heat. Cook gently until apples are soft, then mash with a potato masher until almost smooth. Add cranberry sauce to apple mixture and let cool slightly. Add the remaining apples, scallions, jalapenos and cilantro if desired.

To prepare burgers, combine turkey, apple, salt, pepper and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Divide turkey mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each into a patty. Lightly coat a large skillet or grill pan with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat. Cook turkey burgers 6 to 8 minutes per side or until done. Serve on toasted buns with Cranberry-Apple Salsa.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: U.S. Apple Association

Fresh Apple Cupcakes with Caramel-Apple Icing

For the batter:

3⁄4 cup brown sugar

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon baking soda

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

3⁄4 teaspoons apple pie spice ( or 1⁄2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1⁄4 teaspoon ginger and 1⁄4 teaspoon nutmeg)

1 large egg

2 teaspoons vinegar, preferably apple cider

1⁄4 cup boiled cider or frozen apple juice concentrate

11⁄4 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups peeled, diced apples (about 3 medium apples)

1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts

For the icing:

1⁄2 cup caramel, from a block or about 20 unwrapped caramel candies

3 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon light corn syrup

2 tablespoons boiled cider or frozen apple juice concentrate

pinch of salt

1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon or apple pie spice

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a muffin pan with 12 muffin papers; spray the papers with non-stick vegetable oil spray.

To make the cupcakes, beat together the sugar and butter till well combined. Add the baking soda, salt and spices, then the egg and vinegar, beating till smooth. Beat in the boiled cider or concentrate. The mixture may look curdled; that's OK. Add the flour, mixing until the batter is smooth, then stir in the apples and walnuts.

Scoop the batter into the lined muffin wells. Bake the cupcakes for 25 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the middle of the center cupcake comes out clean. Remove them from the oven, and after 10 minutes transfer them to a rack. When the cakes are cool, peel off the muffin papers.

To make the icing, melt the caramel with the butter in a saucepan set over low heat. Stir in the remaining ingredients, then bring to a rapid boil. Boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir briefly to calm the bubbles, and immediately pour over the cupcakes while the icing is hot, using about 2 teaspoons icing for each cupcake and covering their tops completely; some excess will drip down the sides. If the icing cools down and you can no longer pour it, reheat very briefly in the microwave.

Makes 12 cupcakes.

Source: The King Arthur Flour Company Tips to get an apple a day

Breakfast

•Stir apple slices into oatmeal.

•Top French toast with applesauce.

•Drink chilled apple juice with a whole-grain bagel and cream cheese.

Lunch

•Eat a cinnamon apple muffin and hot beef vegetable soup.

•Use apple slices instead of jelly on a peanut butter sandwich.

•Blend apple juice, strawberries and yogurt into a smoothie. Snack

•Munch on apple slices and low-fat cheese cubes.

•Dip pretzels into applesauce.

•Drink hot apple cider and eat whole-grain crackers.

Dinner

•Stir-fry apple slices, chicken and broccoli with brown rice.

•Toss apple chunks, walnuts and mixed greens in a light, vinaigrette dressing.

•Create an Apple Brown Betty with applesauce, cooked apples and oatmeal.

Source: U.S. Apple Association