Spring and Summer are our favorite seasons as it’s when the best fruits are available. Produce stands at markets and farmer’s market stalls are brimming with so many colors of the rainbow. Super sweet strawberries, gem-like apricots, luscious mangoes, and sugary pineapple. We’re now seeing cherries, peaches and nectarines as well as plums and plouts that we long for all year long. Aside from their amazing taste and texture, they’re rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and immune-boosting antioxidants and phytochemicals. Fruit lowers your risk of heart disease and cancer, and makes it so much easier for you to zip up those skinny jeans and get back into those short-shorts for summer!
Of course, you can just eat a piece of fruit in its raw, natural state. But how about adding it to some Greek yogurt, blending it into a smoothie, cooking it into your morning oatmeal, or pairing it with some cheese and nuts for dessert. If you feel like getting creative, here are some other ways to prepare fruit.
BAKE IT: We love to make fruit crisps with all kinds of fruit and fruit combinations (mixed berry, peach/plum/nectarine, apple/cherry, blueberry/peach, apple/pear), and it’s so easy. Just mix your cut up fruit in a bowl and sprinkle generously with ground cinnamon, tossing to coat all of the pieces. In a baking dish (8×11 or 9×12) place the fruit in an even layer. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a 400°F oven for 30-45 minutes, depending on the firmness of the fruit (the firmer the fruit, the longer it will take). It’s ready when the fruit is very soft. Take off the foil and cover with a layer of Kashi Go Lean Crunch cereal (or your favorite granola) and place in the oven, uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool for 10-20 minutes before serving. Yum! Again, this is a great method for cooking under-ripe fruit, as the high heat concentrates the sugars and really brings out the flavor.
GRILL IT: When you cook fruit over high heat, it intensifies the flavors by concentrating the natural sugars. The best fruit to grill are pineapple, mangoes, peaches, nectarines, and plums. This method is especially great if they’re a little under ripe, as the caramelization process turns a not-so sweet piece into super-sweet. Wash, then cut the fruit in half and remove pit/seed. Place on the grill over medium to low flame and cook about 3-5 minutes per side, or until golden. Serve warm, with an optional scoop of our special cinnamon yogurt topping (mix ¼ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt with 1 tsp. agave nectar, 2 dashes cinnamon, and ½ tsp. pure vanilla extract).
POACH IT:This is one cooking method that stumps so many people, yet it couldn’t be easier to do. Poaching is cooking in a shallow amount of barely simmering liquid. That’s it. This method is best done with very firm fruit (apples, pears, cherries) or under-ripe fruit. Place whole or halved fruit in a saucepan and add liquid (juice, nectar, wine, or water that’s sweetened with honey or agave) until it barely covers the fruit. Add a vanilla bean, a cinnamon stick, or some grated nutmeg for additional flavor. Bring liquid to a simmer (liquid is hot enough to have very small bubbles form) and cook until fruit is soft (anywhere from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the fruit). Remove fruit from pan onto serving plate, reserving the liquid in the pan. Increase the heat under the pan to HIGH and allow liquid to boil and reduce down to a syrup (takes about 10 minutes). Spoon syrup over fruit and top with some chopped nuts and a sprig of fresh mint.
So, who’s ready for some fruit?