Fruit for the Fourth!
There is something so exciting when the first crop of strawberries or raspberries hit your local farmers market. Nothing can beat their intoxicating aroma or juicy sweet flavor. And every time you bite into a piece of fruit, not only are your tastebuds instantly satisfied, you send a flood of nutrients to your body that can impact your health favorably. Since fruit is relatively low in calories and fat, yet an excellent source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemcials, you really do gain health rewards in each bite. In fact, these compounds appear to act in synergy, which in turn protects you from developing many diseases including heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer.
One of the best places you can turn to for the freshest fruits this summer is your neighborhood farmers market; and there’s no doubt about it, a visit to your local farmers market is a great way to spend a summer morning. A kaleidoscope of vibrant colors and a mélange of earthy aromas await you. Better yet, your local farmers market can serve as an inspiration for a delicious, healthy meal to be served at your 4th of July celebration.
With so many in-season fruits this time of year to choose from, include a variety in your diet to maximize your enjoyment of their flavor and optimize their nutritional value. Some in-season fruits include:
Blackberries. High in fiber, vitamins C and K, and manganese, these fresh berries are wonderful additions to cereals and salads or in puddings, fruit desserts, and other baked goods.
Raspberries. This sweet delicate fruit comes in several varieties, including yellow, red, purple and black colors. Use them on top of warm or cold cereals, desserts, or in homemade desserts.
Cherries. An excellent source of vitamin C, cherries are delicious simply eaten fresh as a snack. Also experiment with them dried, frozen, or preserved as a jam.
Strawberries. There is something irresistible about strawberries. Heart-shaped, jewel-like and packed with some serious plant-powered nutritional punch, it's no wonder strawberries are one of America's favorite fruits. Enjoy them sliced into salads, on top of yogurt, or mixed into smoothies.
Peaches. These fuzzy skinned, round, yellowish-orange stone fruits are juicy and sweet, making them the perfect summertime snack. Enjoy them fresh as is, or grilled, such as in the recipe below.
Grilled Peaches with Basil
When fruit is heated, the natural sugars caramelize making for an effortlessly healthy and delicious result. These peaches paired with basil complement its sweetness, making an extremely simple recipe look taste like a gourmet treat.
4 fresh peaches, with skin, cut in half, pit removed
1 ½ Tbsp basil-infused extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
2 Tbsp fresh chopped basil
Fresh basil leaves for garnish
Makes 8 servings (1/2 peach each)
- Place peaches in a dish, cavity facing up.
- Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey and chopped basil. Drizzle over peaches and marinate for 30 minutes.
- Heat a grill. Place peaches (cavity facing up) on hot grill and grill for 3 minutes. Turn over and brush with remaining vinaigrette in dish. Grill for 3 minutes.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately.
***Note: Excellent served with sorbet or vanilla soy ice cream.
For even more information on plant-powered proteins, you can join my 14-day Go Plant Power Challenge, staring on August 5th. Join by simply clicking “LIKE” on the Go Plant Power Facebook Page which will host the 14 days of alerts with recipes and other helpful tips. By the end of the 14th day, you will possess the tools to change your diet and health for the better.
Sharon Palmer is a registered dietitian, writer and author of The Plant-Powered Diet. Over 750 of her articles have been published in national publications, including Prevention, Better Homes and Gardens and Today’s Dietitian. She is also the editor of the award-winning publication Environmental Nutrition and writes for her blog, The Plant-Powered Dietitian. Sharon makes her home with her husband and two sons in the chaparral hills overlooking Los Angeles.
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