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Back to School with Michigan Apples

By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN

Back-to-school and apples just seem to go together. Kids have been bringing teachers a shiny apple since the beginning of time and the arrival of fresh Michigan Apples at local farmers markets and grocery stores coincides with the start of classes. Michigan Apples are a convenient and affordable choice to include with a healthy breakfast, a kid-friendly lunch or an after-school snack. And there are so many reasons to feel good about including Michigan Apples in your fall back-to-school meal and snack routines.


  • Nutritious choice – Not only are Michigan apples crisp, juicy and sweet, but they also offer many health benefits. A medium sized apple only has around 95 calories and also contains 4 grams of fiber. This is about 10-15% of the amount of fiber that you need for the whole day. Apples also are rich in vitamin C, potassium, and antioxidants.

  • Good for the gut – Gut microbes rely upon complex carbohydrates (dietary fiber) to complete their functions in our digestive systems. Eating more whole fruits and vegetables like Michigan apples provides necessary fiber of optimal gut health.

  • Brain booster – Apples may provide a healthy boost for your brain. There is growing evidence that antioxidants, such as those found in Michigan apples, may protect brain cells.

  • Healthy teeth – the Academy of General Dentistry suggests that choosing healthy snacks like Michigan apples, in place of sugary snacks, can help prevent cavities in children.

  • Maintain energy – Apples are a smart choice for anyone who wants to maintain blood sugar levels that are already within normal limits. High-fiber foods like Michigan apples act like an energy time-release machine. The soluble fiber in apples causes apples’ natural sugars to be released more slowly and evenly, preventing sudden peaks or valleys in blood sugar.

  • Support for local communities – There are more than 11.3 million apple trees covering 35,500 acres on 825 family-run farms in Michigan so eating Michigan apples supports not only your personal health, but that of our local economy!


Everyone loves eating a fresh Michigan apple by itself but there are also many delicious ways to include them in easy recipes and quick snack ideas. Here are some favorite recipes to help your family enjoy the wonderful taste and health benefits of Michigan Apples all day long:


An Energizing Breakfast Boost with Michigan Apples


Easy Apple Breakfast Cobbler – What could be better than warm apple cobbler for breakfast? Put the ingredients in your crock pot overnight and wake up to the wonderful smell of cinnamon and apples.

Makes 4 servings


  4 medium-sized Michigan Apples,* cored, peeled and sliced 

  ¼ cup honey 

  1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 

  1 tablespoon butter or trans fat free spread, melted 

  2 cups low-fat granola cereal


  1. Place apples in a crock pot and stir in honey and cinnamon. Top apple mixture with granola and drizzle with butter or margarine.

  2. Cover and cook on low 7-9 hours or on high 2-3 hours.

  3. Serve warm and top with low-fat milk or vanilla Greek yogurt if desired.

*Try Cortland, Gala, Ida Red, Jonathan, Northern Spy, Rome, Braeburn, McIntosh or Empire


Nutrition facts: (with spread): 395 Calories, 7g Fat, 83g Carbohydrate, 5g Protein, 175mg Sodium, 0mg Cholesterol, 8g Fiber


Mini Apple Pancake Kebobs This is a fun way to serve pancakes!

Makes 4 servings


1 cup plus 2 tablespoons baking mix (such as Bisquick™)

1/2 cup milk

1 egg

1/2 cup chopped Michigan Apple

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Pinch of ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Cooking spray for pan or griddle

5 to 6-inch wooden skewers

Michigan Apple slices and syrup


  1. In large bowl, mix baking mix, milk, egg, apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla until just combined.

  2. Heat 10-inch cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. Lightly coat inside of skillet with cooking spray.

  3. Drop tablespoonfuls of batter into skillet; cook until edges are dry and bubbles begin to form on the surface. Turn and cook until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more cooking spray as needed to keep skillet lightly greased.

  4. Place 4 to 5 pancakes on each skewer with an apple slice between each pancake. Top with syrup and serve with a glass of milk or a cup of cinnamon-vanilla yogurt.

Nutrition facts (without syrup): 187 Calories, 5g Fat, 29g Carbohydrate, 5g Protein, 360mg Sodium, 2g Fiber

Recipe adapted from Bettycrocker.com


Apple Cinnamon Breakfast Muffins – Make a batch of these muffins on the weekend and freeze for a quick weekday breakfast.

Makes 12 muffins


1/2 cup melted butter or spread, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1-1/2 cup diced Michigan Apple
1-3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon cinnamon
2-3 teaspoons sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

  2. Blend spread or butter, sugar and egg until smooth.

  3. Add buttermilk, salt, apples and mix well.

  4. Stir together flour, soda, cinnamon and add to buttermilk mixture. Mix until all ingredients are blended.

  5. Spoon into muffin pan coated with vegetable cooking spray or into paper muffin cups.

  6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

Nutrition facts per muffin: 174 Calories, 6g Fat, 27g Carbohydrate, 3.5g Protein, 141mg Sodium, 194mg Cholesterol, 2g Fiber


Satisfy your After-School Snack Attack with Michigan Apples


Caramelized Apple and Cheese Quesadillas – A sweet twist to quesadillas with nutritious ingredients for growling stomachs.

Makes 2 snack servings


  4 teaspoon butter

  1 medium unpeeled cored Michigan Golden Delicious or Gala Apple, sliced

  1 tablespoon brown sugar

  1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  2 (6-inch) whole grain tortillas

  2 slices reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese

  Sour cream (optional)


  1. Sauté apples in butter in skillet on medium heat 3-4 minutes or until apples are soft and lightly browned. Add brown sugar and cinnamon. Cook 1-2 minutes on medium-low until sugar is dissolved.

  2. Overlap cheese slices on 1 of the tortillas. Top with apple mixture; cover with second tortilla.

  3. Heat skillet on medium-high heat. Cook tortilla 2-3 minutes per side or until lightly browned and cheese is melted.

  4. Cut into quarters and serve with sour cream.

Nutrition facts per 1/2 quesadilla: 299 Calories, 10.5g Fat, 41g Carbohydrate, 10g Protein, 525mg Sodium, 22mg Cholesterol, 3g Fiber


Apple Owl Rice Cake or Pita Snack – These are too cute to resist and kids will love to help make them.

Makes 4 servings


  4 brown rice cakes or whole grain pita breads

  4 tablespoons nut butter   

  1 banana


  1 Michigan Apple, sliced


  1 slice of yellow cheese, such as cheddar


  1. Spread nut butter on each rice cake or pita. Top with 2 banana slices for eyes, and top each banana slice with 1 blueberry.

  2. Next add a small piece of cheese cut into the shape of a triangle for the beak. Then, two Michigan Apple slices for the wings.

  3. Add cheerios for the body and serve with a cold glass of low-fat milk.


Nutrition facts (with rice cake): 229 Calories, 10g Fat, 27g Carbohydrate, 8g Protein, 173mg Sodium, 4g Fiber


Apple Pie Bars – These not-too-sweet bars can be made on the weekend for ready-made snacking. Use an inexpensive apple peeler to ease preparation.

Makes 18 bars



1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, or almonds), or whole rolled oats, divided

1-3/4 cup white whole wheat flour

1/2 cup brown sugar

4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

1 egg

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Apple Filling:

6 cups diced, peeled Michigan Apples, divided (about 6 medium apples)

1/2 cup Michigan Apple Cider

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. To prepare crust: Combine ¾ cup nuts (or oats), whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour and sugar in a food processor; pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add butter; pulse until well incorporated.

  2. Whisk egg, oil and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract in a small bowl. With the motor running, add the mixture to the food processor. Process, then pulse, scraping down the sides, if necessary, until the mixture begins to clump, 30 to 45 seconds (it will look crumbly). Measure out ½ cup of the mixture and combine in a bowl with the remaining ¼ cup chopped nuts (or oats). Set aside for the topping.

  3. Preheat oven to 400°F. Generously coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

  4. To prepare fruit filling & assemble bars: Combine 4 cups apples, cider (or orange juice), sugar and cornstarch in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is very thick, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 cups apples, cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

  5. Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish. Spread evenly and press firmly into the bottom to form a crust. Spread the fruit filling over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved topping over the filling.

  6. Bake the bars for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake until the crust and topping are lightly brown, 25 to 30 minutes more. Let cool completely before cutting into bars, at least 1½ hours.


Nutrition facts per bar: 193 Calories, 9g Fat, 27g Carbohydrate, 3g Protein, 69mg Sodium, 2g Fiber

Recipe adapted from EatingWell.com


Serve Up Savory Sandwiches with Michigan Apples – A crunchy, sweet filling makes these apple, turkey wraps a winner!


Apple Turkey Wraps

Makes 4 servings


  1-1/3 cups diced red Michigan Apples

  1/2 cup low-fat lemon yogurt

  4 flour tortillas, 8-inches in diameter

  2 cups fresh spinach leaves or spring greens

  6 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey breast

  2 ounces thinly sliced havarti cheese

  2 cups sprouts (if desired)


  1. Combine Michigan Apples and yogurt. Set aside.

  2. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Divide and arrange remaining ingredients evenly over tortillas.

  3. Place ¼ of Apple mixture down center of each tortilla. Fold 2 opposite sides in about 1-1/2 – inches and roll. Cut each wrap in half and serve immediately.


*Suggested Michigan Apple varieties to use: Empire, Gala, Golden Delicious, Ida Red, Jonagold, Jonathan, McIntosh, Red Delicious or Rome.


Nutrition facts per serving: 330 Calories, 10g Fat, 42g Carbohydrate, 18g Protein, 751mg Sodium, 33mg Cholesterol, 3g Fiber


Nut Butter, Cinnamon and Apple Sandwich – Tired of PB&J? Try our PB&A (Apples!)
Makes 1 serving


2 tablespoons peanut butter, almond butter or other nut butter
1 small Michigan Apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon honey
2 slices whole grain bread


  1. Mix peanut butter and cinnamon together in a small bowl.

  2. Spread the peanut butter on one slice of bread and top with apple slices. Drizzle honey over apples.

  3. Put the slices together and cut in half to serve.


Nutrition facts: 462 Calories, 20g Fat, 66g Carbohydrate, 16g Protein, 406mg Sodium, 10g Fiber


Michigan Apple, Cheese, Turkey Wraps – Kids and adults will love these quick wraps that include a crisp apple slice. Serve with some whole grain crackers on the side.

Makes 2 servings


  1 Michigan Apple

  1 slice lemon

  4 slices 2% cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese

  4 slices reduced sodium deli turkey or ham





 Photo: weelicious.com


  1. Slice the apple into ½- inch thick slices and rub the slices with lemon to prevent browning.

  2. Slice an 8 oz. block of 2% cheese into 1/4-inch slices and the turkey or ham in 1/2 (making sure the meat is large enough to wrap around the apple and cheese).

  3. Place an apple slice and a cheese slice on top of the deli meat and fold over deli meat to wrap.


Nutrition facts: 256 Calories, 16g Fat, 14g Carbohydrate, 34g Protein, 741mg Sodium, 2g Fiber


Meet the Author

Shari Steinbach

Shari Steinbach, MS RDN
Shari Steinbach & Associates, LLC

For the past 26 years, Shari has worked as a dietitian in the grocery industry for two major retailers in the Midwest. In her retail roles, Shari has managed consumer health communication, health influencer partnerships, nutrition programs, and solution-selling strategies.

Shari has served as a nutrition expert and corporate spokesperson, providing food and nutrition advice through monthly television spots on ABC, NBC and FOX affiliates and local radio segments. She has also conducted numerous educational presentations to community groups and professional organizations throughout the country. Her timely nutrition and food product information and strategic social media messages have reached millions of consumers.