Advice on eating apples

Last week the Globe & Mail reported on a study by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada on the nutritious value of various types of apples. The study (to be published this week) found that the Red Delicious variety is the most nutritious.

eat meThat’s unfortunate for me, as the Red Delicious is far from my favorite type of apple. No matter, Ida Red, Cortlands, and Northern Spys rated well too.

The study did separate evaluations of the skins of the fruit and of the flesh. Some people — like myself — have gotten into the habit of peeling apples before eating them. Although everyone’s Grandma says the most nutrition is in the peel, some studies show that the skins are also where pesticides and growth chemicals are concentrated. There’s also the matter of all that wax.

However, I am reconsidering. Indeed, most of the antioxidant value of an apple lies in the skin (and that’s where the Red Delicious ranks highest). I should have known that, as there has been plenty of talk in the past few years about phytochemicals in foods — including the theory that the more colorful a fruit or vegetable is, the more phytochemicals it contains and thus the better it is for you.

So stop peeling those apples. And eat more of them. Below are the best apples for you, first ranked by skin nutrition, then by flesh nutrition. The numbers are FRAP units of antioxidant activity (FRAP is a commonly used measure of antioxidant activity):

too green!THE APPLE SKIN TOP 8
Red Delicious; 17,851
Ida Red; 12,083
Cortland; 11,908
Northern Spy; 10,044
Golden Delicious; 9,616
Mutsu; 6,820
McIntosh; 6.436
Empire; 2,736

THE APPLE FLESH TOP 8
Northern Spy; 6,425
Cortland; 3,660
Red Delicious; 3,215
MacIntosh; 2,785
Ida Red; 2,749
Golden Delicious; 2,036
Mutsu; 1,584
Empire; 550

Sweet, sweet peppers

My favorite produce store is Fruitical in Saint-Bruno. It’s about a 30 kilometre round-trip from chez nous, but since Fruitical is just around the corner from Martine’s sister and family, it is, fortunately, quite easy to justify the trip. (As if the freshness and variety of the produce were not enough!)

On Sunday, we found a new kind of red pepper there — at least new to me. They came four to a package for $4.99, which makes them a little bit expensive but not over the top. Each pepper is long and pointy like a cubanelle, but larger — averaging about seven inches each, and red.

so red!

They were labeled as "Sweet Selects," hydroponically grown in Quebec. There was a sticker on the package that indicated they are ideal for grilling, so I bought some.

The weather today was gorgeous, so naturally I planned a barbecue for dinner.

I grilled the peppers whole, while simultaneously preparing a barbecue sauce for the chicken. The sauce consisted of the following ingredients:

– a squirt of ketchup;
– a splork of tomato paste;
– a scrape of brown sugar;
– a couple of squashes of lime juice;
– a skloik or two of cayenne pepper sauce;
– two small chunks of chipotle pepper;
– a couple of smashed and mashed cloves of garlic;
– a couple of slugs of Jack Daniels bourbon sour mash whiskey.

… all bubbled together for about 15 minutes.

so tasty!The peppers grilled very nicely, as if they were made for that purpose. The skins blackened and loosened evenly, and they retained a lot of succulent moisture. When they were done I dropped them into a paper bag for ten minutes while I pounded the chicken breasts to flatten them out for even cooking.

When the peppers came out of the bag I was ready for the usual fight — some parts of the skin falls right off while other parts cling stubbornly. Not so with these peppers. The skins slid right off the wet and slippery flesh in one piece, like… well, use your imagination.

They had hardly any seeds or membrane, so it was just a quick swipe of the knife, a few longitudinal cuts, a squirt of balsamic vinegar glaze, a toss, and voila! A lovely pile of super-tasty grilled (roasted?) red peppers.

The rest of the meal involved grilling the flattened (and salted and peppered) chicken breasts and brushing them with the barbecue sauce just before they were finished, while some thick slices of zucchini grilled alongside. Pushed off to the back was a foil pouch of asparagus (with butter, pepper, and lime juice).

Everything came together perfectly. The chicken was moist and zingy, and the zucchini was soft yet toothsome. Even the asparagus was done just right.

But those peppers! They were so sweet! Almost too sweet — Martine said it was like eating candy.

Hopefully, they won’t be hard to find again. They prepare so easily and taste great so I’ll want to have them again. Next time I’ll use straight balsamic vinegar (and a drop of olive oil), because that will make a lovely contrast with the pepper’s natural sweetness. Needless to say, we ate all four of them.