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"A" Is For More Than Apples

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apples.jpgOkay, it’s apple season and yes, it makes sense to feature these crunchy treats. But don’t forget the pears, grapes, pumpkins and winter squash! Featuring foods of the season is a marketing no-brainer, though taking it the next step is the challenge and part of the process is helping with ideas on how to use the foods in a health-promoting way. Using apples as an example, here are some ideas to get you started:

• Storage advice varies with the variety, storage time and planned use. Crisp eating apples need cool storage and even refrigeration if there they are to be stored longer than a few weeks. Apples intended for cooking need to be kept cool, but refrigeration is optional, since crispness is not so much on an issue. Note that if the apples are meant to tempt the family to snack, washing them before is a good idea since kids always don't remember to do it when they're hungrily searching for something to eat before dinner.

• Choosing the right variety is important, especially at the peak of the season when the selection is varied. Informative labels, at-hand recipes and guidance from staffers all make it easier for shoppers to venture outside their safety zone and try new flavors, textures and uses.

• Make the most of apples' nutrition benefits. Customers might be counting carbs, looking for healthful snacks or trying to increase their intake of fiber. Something like an apple might not contain a lot of vitamin C, but think of the positives. Fall is a good time to feature the single serving sizes.

Apple season is a great time for consumers to take advantage of good prices. Retailers can take the lead by suggesting a variety of meal options:

• Apple Waldorf Salad with cut apples, dates or dried cranberries, some chopped nuts held together with yogurt, mayonnaise or cottage cheese. This can be a side or main dish salad depending on the extras. Add a dash of cinnamon for extra flavor.

• Scalloped apples (adding pears creates a whole other flavor) as a side dish or save for a sweet ending.

• Baked apples are great for breakfast, dessert or as a side dish. Stuff them with nuts or dried fruit for added flavor and texture.

And while you're extolling the virtues of apples, remember cider. Go beyond its image as a refreshing cold fall beverage and suggest blending it with orange or other juices, mulling it with spices and serving warm, or using it to baste cooked carrots, baked apples or winter squash. In other words, make the foods of the season fun, exciting as well as health promoting!

[Photo credit: beeside(s)]

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