How to Eat More Fruit: The Brownies of the Plant World
While it is more important to eat more vegetables than to eat more fruit (and let's be honest about that fact, okay? ), if a diet lacks both vegetables and fruits, well, fruit is the place to start -- each small bite toward a better diet is, indeed, a giant leap toward better health. More does matter. Besides, fruit may well be easier -- call fruit the 'brownies' of the plant world.
> Sweetness -- the natural sugars in fruit encourage our palates to accept and enjoy new fruit
> Few bad memories -- few of are marred by childhood experiences with canned, creamed or overcooked fruit
> Good packaging -- many fruits come in nature-made jackets that makes them easy to transport to work and school
> Convenience -- many fruits are delicious raw, so no oven, no cooking -- heavens, no kitchen -- and no clean-up required
Want to eat more fruit? Here are some ideas on how to eat more fruit.
Expand our definition of fruit. Apples, oranges, bananas and grapes. We know these. But how many of these fruits and berries have we tried? (Make it a game, keep a list!) Apricots. Breadfruit. Blackberries. Cantaloupe. Cherimoyas. Cherries. Chokecherries. Clementines. Fresh coconut. Fresh currants. Cranberries. Durian. Fresh figs. Dragonfruit. (Dragonfruit? How about that sexy-looking fruit in the photo, courtesy of Appetite for China.) Grapefruit. Guava. Kiwi. Honeydew melon. Loganberries. Loquat. Lingonberries. Mandarins. Mangoes. Mangosteens. Mayapples. Mulberries. Nectarines. Papayas. Pawpaws. Pears. Peaches. Persimmons. Fresh pineapple. Pluots. Pomegrantes. Pumello. Quince. Raspberries. Tamarillo. Watermelon. There's a whole world of fruit, just waiting to be plucked and enjoyed!
Choose the whole fruit, not the juice. An apple, not apple juice. An orange, not orange juice. Why? Think how easy it is to toss back a glass of juice. It's gone in a swallow or two. But an apple can be nibbled, bite by bite. An orange can be savored, section by section. Plus whole apples and whole oranges have all the fiber that's so important to a healthful diet.
Choose fresh fruit, not dried fruit. Fresh grapes, not raisins. Fresh plums, not prunes. There's nothing inherently wrong with dried fruit but the calories in dried fruit are dense and concentrated. Volume-wise, it simply takes more grapes than raisins to fill a belly. In addition, some dried fruits are sweetened with added sugar.
Choose fruits that are in season. Our supermarkets import fruit from all over the world, making it appear that strawberries grow year-round. What's in season in the middle of winter, for example? At least in the northern hemisphere - citrus! Now's the time to buy oranges and tangerines and grapefruits and if you're adventurous, kumquats and lemons. How do we know what's in season? One way is to just think about it. Do we think about strawberries as spring or fall fruits? Spring, of course. When do we pick apples? Fall, of course. Another way is to watch supermarket prices. In my hometown of St. Louis, blueberries are available year-round. But they're $6 a half pint in winter, $2 to $3 for a full pint during the short season, just four or five weeks in July and August. The best way to know what's in season is to regularly visit our local farmers markets. California strawberries may arrive in St. Louis beginning in March but our local strawberries don't ripen until late May or June. During their very short season, the local strawberries are picked ripe and ready to eat by the handful, savoring each juicy berry.
Choose fruit as a replacement food. Do we grab a granola bar on the way out the door in the morning? Replace it with an apple. Do we eat potato chips with a sandwich at lunch? Replace them with fresh grapes. Do we need the sugar rush from an afternoon coke? Replace it with a banana. Do we add cheese to a salad? Replace it with slices of fresh fruit. Do we drizzle ice cream with chocolate sauce? Replace the sauce with blueberries. The idea here is to identify each time we might choose a 'processed' food, then instead replace it with a 'whole food', with fruit.
Keep fruit visible! Fruit is so beautiful -- plus, fruit at room temperature tastes better! Set a bowl of beautiful apples on the coffee table in the family room. Keep bunches of just-washed fresh grapes on the counter. Place a basket of tangerines in the center of the kitchen table. Most fruit will keep for a day at room temperature, so put out just enough for a day or put away what's leftover at the end of the day.
Your Fruitful Ideas How many servings of fruit a day are you eating? Is fruit a priority in your diet? Which of these ideas appeals to you? How strategies do you use to eat more fruit? What gets in the way of eating more fruit?
More Healthy Diet Resources Here on BlogHer
How to Eat More Vegetables
How to Master that Breakfast Habit
"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."
How Do You Choose a Diet?
Are You Eating Enough Superfoods?
Are You Addicted to Sugar?
For Good Health: Eat Your Greens!
Stop eating so much and get moving!
Beans Are a Great Choice for Good Health
BlogHer food editor Alanna Kellogg is passionate about inspiring herself and others to energize our diets with whole, seasonal and most importantly - delicious! - food. Find her recipes at KitchenParade.com and A Veggie Venture.