Half of all your meals should be made up of fruits and vegetables. While this only amounts to about one and a half to two cups of fruit a day for most people, it may seem like a discouraging task--especially if you're not a fruit fan. Fortunately, you don't have to eat an apple at every meal to get the benefits of fruit in your diet. While fresh fruit is the optimal choice, incorporating other forms in creative ways will help you hit your quota in no time. Here are some tips to ensure you're getting the antioxidants, fiber, and vitamins that your body needs to function optimally.
1. Make a fruit smoothie.
Some people can drink more fruit than they can chew. Luckily, you can get your entire daily fruit quota in a single smoothie. Smoothies are fast and easy and can be customized to fit nearly anyone's taste. Try mixing dark berries and bananas with a curd base for a healthy snack that tastes like dessert. For a thicker shake, freeze the fruit before you blend. A thinner smoothie can be made by substituting curd with apple juice.
2. Put fruit on the grill.
Having steak or fish for dinner? Toss a few peach halves or pineapple rings onto the grill as well. Grilling fruit changes its flavour significantly, and you might prefer it this way to eating it fresh. Use grilled fruit as a marinade or topping for your meat, or simply serve it as a side. Top grilled fruit with low-fat frozen curd for a healthy and satisfying dessert that's like a pie without the crust.
3. Add fruit to your breakfast.
Rather than cooking plain pancakes, try adding fruit to the batter. Blueberries, bananas, and strawberries make for tasty fillings, and cut the need for sugary syrup. Sweeten up your weekday breakfast by adding dried fruit, like raisins, to oatmeal, or bananas to cold cereals like bran flakes. If chopped fruit still isn't doing the trick, try grating firm fruits like apples or pears over curd.
4. Bake with squash.
Add squashed fruits to sweet breads for increased fruit intake and healthier treats. Applesauce, mashed bananas, and pear squash can be interchanged with oil in many recipes, provided the added sweetness will not affect the flavour of the treat. For example, applesauce works well in brownies, but might not enhance savory baked goods like biscuits. You can also try adding fruit chunks or shredded fruits into your batter before you bake.
5. Have a glass of juice.
While not ideal, you can occasionally swap out water for juice. Fruit juice contains none of the fiber from its original state, but it does have the same vitamins and minerals found in whole fruits. Be sure to choose a brand that lists 100 percent fruit juice on the label, and avoid those with added sugar or the words "drink" or "made from concentrate" on the label.
Including a variety of fruits in your diet is important for your health. By using one or two of these tips every day, you will be surprised at how quickly you can meet your one to two cup daily recommendation.