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Apple Snacks and Crafts

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An apple a day makes for a delicious and fun-filled autumn

In many regions across the country, September marks the start of apple season. From Granny Smith to Red Delicious, there's usually a wide variety of apples to be found at your local farm or grocery store. Celebrate autumn by enjoying this fruit with the entire family - whether you're looking for a snack or some fall-themed arts and crafts, apples come in handy.

Thanks to new twists on classic recipes, caramel apples are a favorite seasonal treat that never gets old. For kids, making them is half the fun. The U.S. Apple Association provides a recipe that will please everyone's taste buds: Instead of popsicle sticks, use licorice or cinnamon sticks, and top the caramel layer off with granola. Not only do these caramel apples taste wonderful, but they make one-of-a-kind rustic centerpieces as well. Find the complete recipe and other delicious apple ideas at www.usapple.org.

Both young children and teens will love painting with apples. All you need are some apples, acrylic paint, popsicle sticks and paper. Slice an apple so that the inside surface is flat and even. Push a popsicle stick into the outside layer of the fruit for leverage, dip the flat side of the slice into your paint then go ahead and make a masterpiece. You can even experiment by cutting out shapes like stars, on the inside part of the fruit to make cool patterns and stamps. Adults will have to do all the cutting for younger kids, although you can use plastic knives for shape cutting. Check out websites like Make and Takes for more crafty food projects.

With help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the New Jersey Team Nutrition Project offers some great recipes for apple lovers. If you enjoy entertaining or need to bring hors d'oeuvres to a dinner party, try getting creative with dips. Coat your apple wedges with strawberry cream cheese dip or blended peanut butter and orange juice. Check out other state resources, including more dip recipes from the New Jersey Team Nutrition Project, through the USDA at www.usda.gov and www.nal.usda.gov.

Packed with nutrients and flavor, apples are a healthy choice, whether enjoyed on their own or as an entree ingredient. Have fun experimenting with new recipes and crafts all year long, or get into the autumn spirit with a whole month of apple-related projects. Learn more about this tasty fruit at www.fruitsandveggiesmatter.gov.

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