warm-up-with-applesBaby, it’s cold outside.

Cold enough to make plans to stay inside and sip warm, spiced cider. It’s the perfect time to sit back, savor the smells and tastes of winter, and snuggle up while the snow falls.

It’s also the time of year when we crave comfort foods – heavy, rich indulgences which may not be the best for your waistline. To keep your cravings and weight in check, balance your food choices by including lots of healthy apples in your meals.

Of course, crunchy raw apples are a treat all year round – eaten sliced on your oatmeal, in sandwiches, or on salads. Cooking with apples is a great way to add the always-popular taste of apples to all your favorite winter meals.

Go ahead and make that tender, slow roasted pork, but throw some apples in the pan toward the end and make sure to serve them in equal amounts. That way you enjoy your pork but get all the healthy fiber of apples to fill you up.

Roasted root vegetables are sweet and savory, and chunks of apple will perk up all that earthy flavor. Apples can add body to a pan sauce: Once you have seared your pork or chicken, just add peeled chunks of apple and some stock, and simmer until the apples fall apart. Herbs like rosemary and thyme bring out the flavor of apples when stuffed in a roasted chicken.

Apples can even be simmered in soups. Substitute an apple for part or all of the potatoes in a soup, and you’ll have a new dish to share. Apple soups can be simple and quick, just let apples simmer in chicken stock with a few carrots and some sage, or add to a potato-herb soup before pureeing. They can also be playfully sweet and sour, with a combo of apple juice and a dash of cider vinegar for a palate tingling soup. Warm dessert soups are fun, too. Sweet apples and cinnamon with cream is a sophisticated ending to a meal.

Apples are your go-to fruit this winter, thanks to a bountiful harvest this past fall from apple growers nationwide. You can count on a splendid selection at your grocery store, ready to cook with in ways you may not have tried yet.