Summer is in full swing and the local produce market is booming. The wide variety of fruits available is a nice change of pace from winter fruits, such as apples, citrus and bananas.
Now fresh peaches, plums, cherries, berries, and melon abound. If you have a sweet tooth, now is the time to curb it by adding more fresh fruit to your diet. Eat it as is, or spend a little time cutting a variety of fruits for a fruit salad to munch on all week long. Add variety to your routine by picking up some blueberries to add to your morning cereal or picking out some ripe fresh apricots for a beta-carotene boost.
You may also consider adding fruits to your main dish. While pineapple is a favorite with ham, try it with other meats, such as poultry too. Put sliced pineapple on the grill just before your meats are finished cooking. Let them sear for a few minutes on each side, and then serve with your meat or poultry. Fresh peaches are great for grilling too. Be sure they are ripe, and then split them in half to grill. Sprinkling a little bit of sugar on each half beforehand and letting them rest for about an hour before grilling will insure a juicy side dish. You may also serve them for dessert. Add a honey yogurt dressing, or a warm honey mustard.
In addition to fruits on the grill, chopping fruits into salsas is a refreshing change to the taste of your favorite salsa also. Make your salsa as you normally would (chopped tomatoes, onions, cilantro, etc); then add some chopped peaches or mango to it. The sweet flavor of the fruit with the tang of the onion and tomato is a nice contrast. Mango salsa flavors fish such as salmon or tuna, wonderfully. Serve these salsas at room temperature on the side, or top the cooked fish with them.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends eating at least 5, and up to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Cooking with fruit is another way to reach your “5-a-Day” goal. Start by adding two extra servings of fruit to your daily diet. Incorporating more fruits into your daily diet and cooking will increase your intake of healthy antioxidants as well as boost your fiber intake. Both are part of a heart-healthy, cancer-fighting diet, and can help keep your GI system in check, not to mention your waistline. So the next time you hear a chocolate chip cookie calling your name, reach for a ripe nectarine or some sweet grapes first and enjoy the natural sweetness they have to offer.
Try these fiber-rich, low calorie recipes to incorporate more fruits into your summer diet:
APRICOT AND CABBAGE SLAW
Source: Land O Lakes
1/3 cup LAND O LAKES regular Sour Cream
1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 (16-ounce) package coleslaw mix
3 to 4 fresh apricots, seeded, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup chopped green onions
Stir together all dressing ingredients in small bowl. Set aside.
Combine all salad ingredients in large bowl. Add dressing to salad; toss to coat. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Makes 12 (1/2 cup) servings.
1 cup peeled and chopped peaches
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped yellow or green peppers
1 Tablespoon lemon or lime juice
2 tablespoons snipped fresh cilantro, parsley or basil
1 teaspoon sugar
Dash of ground red pepper
Mix everything together in a medium-sized bowl. Cover chill for a few hours.
Makes 1 1/2 cups.