Fruits are a delicious basic when it comes to healthy eating – with nutrients vital for health, energy, disease prevention and longevity. Here in Colorado, fall is when peaches are at their peak. Apples, too, are at their best this time of year, and there is a wide variety to choose from. (Over 7,500 varieties worldwide!) The most common in North America are Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Braeburn, Granny Smith, MacIntosh, and tmany more. Try a variety of fruits, but be sure to include some in your grocery shopping list. They are a great addition to kids’ lunches, or yours, and a perfect snack anytime for everyone in your family.
I believe in always having fresh fruit on hand. It’s a staple at our house. Do you eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day? This is the most recent nutritional recommendation from the U.S. Government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Recent research indicates that people who eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables have lower rates of cancer, cardiovascular disease, heart attack and stroke. Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, and may also help you manage your weight. Here are a few ways for you to enjoy whatever fruit is in season for you.
- Fruit Salad – Choose your favorite fruits, and pick the best available. Some ideas: cut cantaloupe and honeydew, sliced strawberries, blueberries, pineapple chunks, seedless green or red grapes, sliced peaches. I sometimes will use sliced bananas and apples, but add these close to serving time to maintain freshness. You can also add in some raisins and chopped walnuts or pecans for extra texture and flavor. This fruit salad is delicious any time, and makes a great lunch topped with vanilla yogurt.
- Smoothies – This is the breakfast of choice most weekdays at our house. Toss in any kind of frozen fruit – you can slice and freeze bananas, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, whatever you like. You can also buy freezer bags of fresh frozen fruit, if you prefer. To that, add a scoop of vanilla protein powder, vanilla soy milk or almond milk, and/or fruit juice, and whirl together in a blender. This is a delicious and nutrition-packed way to start the day and keep you going until lunch time.
- Snacks – Snacking on fruit is a healthy choice when it comes to high nutritional content without adding empty calories. Fruits provide us with natural sugars, which can give us a boost if we are feeling low on energy. Berries – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries – are filled with antioxidants and vitamins. Citrus fruits are another great source of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Apples and pears are also excellent snacks, providing healthy fiber, with low sugar content. Browse your local produce stand or farmer’s market for your favorites.