'Tis the season for apples. All kinds of apples. Farmers' markets, roadside fruit stands and grocery stores abound in all colors and varieties of these magnificent, munchable treats. The apple is heaven's gift to lift your spirit and boost your health just before winter and its communicable diseases set in. Kids need apples. We all need apples.

Reasons why apples are so important

1. Eating apples helps keep teeth clean

Good dental health is vital to overall health. According to an October 2013 article published in Reader's Digest titled, "Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal," eating an apple increases the flow of saliva which in turn "reduces tooth decay by lowering the level of bacteria in the mouth." Fewer trips to the dentist could be well worth serving up apples for snacks.

2. Apples protect against unwanted pounds

. Nowadays, too many kids are finding themselves in the overweight charts. Here's a simple remedy that may help: Eat apples daily. Per article, "Apples are packed with fiber and water so your stomach will want less food." Reason enough, right there.

3. Apples boost your immune system

"Red apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin.Recent studieshave found that quercetin can help boost and fortify your immune system, especially when you're stressed out."

Parents aren't the only ones burdened with stress - so are kids. The pressures of school work, dealing with other kids, keeping up with extracurricular activities and a myriad of other things that worry kids can cause stress. Nice to know you can help equalize it with an apple. We all know how damaging stress is to the immune system. Imagine a season without colds just from eating apples.

4. Apples have a reputation for staving off cancer

. The sooner the body can fortify itself against this dreaded disease, the better our kids' chances are to have a cancer-free life. Scientists from the American Association for Cancer Research, among others, agree that the consumption of flavonol-rich apples could help reduce your risk of developing pancreatic cancer by up to 23 percent.

5. Apples help you breathe easy

Start feeding your kidlets apples right away, even while they're in the womb. "Kids of women who ate the most apples while pregnant were less likely to wheeze or develop asthma by age 5, researchers from the United Kingdom found recently. The fruit may also protect the lungs of adults, lowering the risk of asthma, lung cancer and other diseases.

These are but a few of the health reasons why kids need to eat apples. The old adage, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" is worth paying attention.

How to tempt your kids into eating more apples

1. Buy the sweet, crispy kind

Try a few and find the ones you prefer. We recently bit into a Gala apple and enjoyed every minute of it. Let your kids do some taste testing and choose their favorites. When kids are in on the choosing, they are more likely to eat it.

2. Make caramel apples the inside-out less-messy way

Granny Smith apples are recommended, but any apple with a little tartness will do. Cut the apples in half, hollow out the center, fill with melted caramel. Let set in the fridge a few minutes until cool, then cut into slices. Here's how they look http://www.pinterest.com/pin/390265123930505326/.

3. Instead of making an apple pie make some apple turnovers

That way everyone gets his own mini pie. They're easy and delicious. If you don't want to make the pie crust just buy the readymade kind, roll it out and fill it with this filling: 2 C. thinly sliced apples, 3 tbsp. cornstarch, 1/4 C. sugar, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg, 1/8 tsp. cinnamon, dash of salt.

To make the filling, cook apples 10 - 15 min. inΒ 3 tbsp of water until tender. Make a thickening by combining cornstarch, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Add dry ingredients to cooked apples. Stir until thick.

Roll out pie crust as for pie. Use bowl about 6-7 inches in diameter for a circle pattern. Cut out circles, drop 1-3 tablespoons filling per circle. Fold over and close with edge of fork. Poke holes in top for steam. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 min. Optional: drizzle with frosting. Delicious. Let the kids help make these.

4. Put apples in salads

Sliced apples are great with fresh spinach leaves and poppyseed dressing. Also, you can make a Waldorf salad. Here's the kid-friendly version: Chop apples into small chunks, add diced bananas, and if they like raisins add some. Same with chopped nuts. Make a dressing of mayonnaise, a squirt of lemon juice, a little sugar, dash of salt. Mix together. Then add to the fruit. Kids seem to like this better if bananas are added instead of the usual celery. Not a problem. Apples and bananas are partners in great nutrition.

5. Tell some apple jokes to your kids

Here are the 10 best apple jokes. These are definitely the kind of jokes your kids will get a kick out of. Here's one: "Why did the apply cry? Its peelings were hurt!" OK, these may be more in the category of puns, but they're still good for a laugh. And that just might keep apples on your kids' minds.

Have fun and just do what it takes to get apples into your kids. And don't forget yourself. What's good for them is also good for you. So grab an apple and start munching away.

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