We all know fruits are good for us, and we all need to eat more of these vitamin-packed gems, not less. In fact, there's no such thing as a bad fruit!
We all know fruits are good for us, and we all need to eat more of these vitamin-packed gems, not less. In fact, there's no such thing as a bad fruit (not even a bad apple, though you may want to steer clear of bruised ones!). That's where summer comes in! The plethora of delectable fruit options increases exponentially during the spring and summer months.
Before the season officially comes to a close on September 21, make sure to get your fill – and even freeze some of your favorites.
A few standout pickings for your summer fruit basket:
Berries – Small, sweet and packed with nutrients, berries are one super food that can impact your health far more than the typical fruit. Studies show that berries are an excellent source of disease-fighting antioxidants and offer greater anti-cancer activity than other fruits. And they have a stellar nutritional profile, to boot. With only 50-90 calories per cup (depending on the type of berry) and 3-4 grams of fiber, it’s no wonder berries are considered a powerful weight loss food.
On your plate: Toss berries into a spinach salad topped with toasted pecans; add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to a bowl of mixed berries and a dash of cinnamon; or nosh on them straight out of the carton (after washing, of course!).
Mangoes – Packed with vitamins A and C, mangoes add a healthy dose of beta-carotene, which may help prevent cancer and promotes healthy skin. Bonus: an entire mango only has 135 calories, and it's packed with 3.5 grams of fiber. Chefs claim they're a great tenderizing agent, and thus, perfect for marinades.
On your plate: Top tacos, fish and poultry with mango salsa. Slice mangoes for yogurt or fruit salad or freeze pureed mangoes for an icy cool treat.
Peaches – Not only are peaches a mere 38 calories (for a medium-sized fruit), they also boast measurable amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamins C and K, plus a variety of disease-fighting phytochemicals. What's more, they taste great!
On your plate: Don't limit yourself to eating whole peaches as a snack. As many professional chefs have discovered, this versatile fruit is perfect as a topping for grilled meats like chicken and turkey or mixed into savory foods like quesadillas, salads and salsas. You can even use peaches to make innovative barbeque sauces and marinades.
Watermelon – True to its namesake, watermelon is more than 90 percent water, making it the juiciest fruit going. Plus, this succulent melon is loaded with disease-fighting lycopene (a powerful plant chemical linked to lower risks of some forms of cancer). Sadly, we really only get to enjoy this delectable fruit when summer heats up. They’re cool, sweet, hydrating, and they pair well with almost every food genre (salty, sweet, spicy, bitter, you name it!). Perhaps most commonly seen at picnic potlucks and barbeques, watermelon is best eaten fresh cut, by the wedge, preferably with your feet dangling in a pool.
On your plate: These days, chefs are getting creative with watermelon. Think salads (it's perfect with feta and mint), sorbets, icy beverages, even soup (like gazpacho, but with watermelon instead of tomato). Rather than limit yourself to sliced wedges, mix watermelon into fruit punch, fruit salad or make home made ice pops.
Pineapple – With its potent mix of vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes (in particular, bromelain), pineapple is an all-body anti-inflammation cocktail. Studies show pineapple also protects against colon cancer, arthritis, and macular degeneration. In fact, nutrition experts claim the bromelain in pineapple aids digestion, speeds wound healing and reduces inflammation. It's also a natural blood thinner (like aspirin but without the side effects).
On your plate: Creative chefs use pineapple in a variety of exotic dishes – things like macadamia nut-crusted chicken on a bed of crushed pineapple or grilled pineapple skewered with meats and vegetables. For something a little more simple, try pineapple mixed into salsa, ice cream or fruit cocktails. Delish!
Fresh summer fruit was spotted at many Healthy Dining restaurants:
20/20 Toasted Almond and Strawberry Salad at the Bistro at Pro Sports Club (440 calories, 11 g fat). Located in WA
Oatmeal with Fruits at Gigi’s Café (630 calories, 11 g fat). Located in Minneapolis, MN.
Jamaican Chicken Salad at The Greene Turtle (350 calories, 7 g fat). Located in MD and VA.
Mango Tilapia Filet at MCL Restaurant & Bakery (450 calories, 11 g fat). Located in IL, IN, OH.
Sophie's Salad Wrap at Saladworks (620 calories, 23 g fat). Located in NY, NJ, MD, CT, DE, PA, IL, TN, VA, FL, and CA.
Atlantic Salmon at The Common Man (570 calories, 28 g fat). Located in NH.
Breakfast Quinoa at Annapurna’s World Vegetarian Café (600 calories, 16 g fat). Located in NM.
Grilled Salmon with Fresh Vegetables and Cantaloupe Avocado Salad at Z’Tejas Southwestern Grill (480 calories, 28 g fat). Located in AZ, CA, TX, UT, and WA.
About the Author:
Amy Paturel, M.S., M.P.H
Amy Paturel writes about health, fitness, food, wine and travel for a variety of clients from general interest magazines to medical e-zines. Her work frequently appears in such publications as Glamour, Health, Eating Well, Women's Health and Marie Claire. Amy is an award winning essayist and a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA). She has contributed essays to national and international magazines, newspapers and niche publications, and she has been featured twice in Newsweek's "My Turn" column.
Prior to devoting herself to writing, Amy researched and analyzed health behaviors for top governmental agencies including the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health Services. She earned a Master of Science in Nutrition and a Master of Public Health at Tufts University in Boston.
Amy's background in nutrition and affinity for cooking (and eating) has led to dozens of restaurant reviews for outlets such as CitySearch.com and Wine & Dine. She has a passion for food, adventure and travel and loves to share insider tips about various destinations.