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Families don’t have to venture far for fun and healthy activities this fall. They can trek through one of the many orchards in Western New York, picking bushels of nutrient-rich apples.

Apple picking isn’t just an active outing with lots of walking and hauling, but it may also foster a child’s love of the sweet, tart or crisp and very healthy fruit.

“This is such a wonderful family bonding experience that is also exercise and healthy eating in disguise,” said Patricia Salzer, a registered dietitian and a Univera Healthcare health and wellness consultant.

Apples are free of fat, sodium and cholesterol, low in calories and full of fiber. The skin of the apple is also stocked with disease-fighting antioxidants. Children can receive the health benefits of apples in a variety of ways. They can just eat the apple, pair it with peanut butter or with similarly healthy foods such as oats and nuts in an apple crisp.

A list of apple picking opportunities around Western New York can be found at nyapplecountry.com/find.

Apple recipes are available on the Univera Healthcare Pinterest page at pinterest.com/univerawny.

Here are some tips on ways to incorporate apples into your meals:

• Make a fruit salad with a mixture of your favorite fruits, or add apples to your vegetable salads.

• Add apples to your cereal, yogurt, pancakes or oatmeal.

• Add apples to winter squash soup or grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches. Roasted apples also go well with chicken or pork.

• Make an apple crisp with whole wheat flour, oats and walnuts.

• Make your apples visible in your kitchen so you’re more likely to eat them. Keep them in the front of your refrigerator or swap out the cookie jar for a bowl of apples.