It can be a struggle to figure out how much fruit to eat daily. Yes, fruit has essential nutrients and fiber, but fruit also contains enough sugar that we shouldn’t just graze on it. Another challenge is that different fruits have different carb counts. So, we have to be smart about the fruit we eat — both in our choices and serving portions.
It’s best to choose fruit with low carbohydrate counts. But given seasonality and regional access, you may not always have access to those fruits. Plus, even fruits with more carbs still have plenty of nutrients and contribute to a diverse diet. So, manage your consumption of fruits with higher carb loads by eating modest amounts. If you don’t already have a digital scale, it’s an invaluable investment to help with portion control.
If you’re thinking that consuming fruit is basically a matter of grabbing an apple from the fridge or squeezing lemon juice over fish, you may be surprised at all the ways fruit can be enjoyed — and in portions that will keep your blood sugar in line.
For these purposes, fruits that are botanically fruit but that we tend to use as vegetables — like tomatoes and avocados — aren’t included here. Neither is dried fruit, which is high in sugar. Your best bet is to eat both fresh and frozen fruit (frozen fruit is a wonderful way to prevent waste and enjoy out-of-season treats).
Here are 10 creative ways you can enjoy fruit every day:
This is obvious, of course, but you can kick it up a notch.
Nibble on berries or slices of apples or melon alone.
Combine pieces of fruit with unsweetened coconut chips, toasted nuts, or reduced-fat cheese.
Use sliced apples or pears as “crudité” to dip in a healthy nonfat yogurt sauce.
Create little tapas bites on a skewer, using a cube of watermelon or Tuscan melon, a couple of basil or mint leaves, a slice of Persian cucumber, and a cube of low-fat mozzarella. Sprinkle with Tajin (a chili/lime seasoning) for a burst of bright spicy flavor.
Use smaller amounts of fruit as toppings — for cereal, salads, and grain bowls.
Try a bowl of oatmeal with a handful of fresh blueberries and toasted walnuts.
Making a meal of farro, grilled chunks of chicken, and sliced vegetables in a bowl? Add orange sections or sliced strawberries for a punch of sweetness. Here’s some bowl inspiration. Just add fruit!
Add frozen fruit (bananas, strawberries, pineapple, mixed berries, kiwi, or peaches) to a smoothie made with nonfat yogurt and a handful of spinach. Kick up the flavor with cinnamon, fennel powder, nutmeg, or other spices.
Certainly, it’s common to make vinaigrettes with citrus juices, but how about making vinaigrette with other fruits?
In a blender add some chopped watermelon or raspberries to the rest of a traditional vinaigrette’s ingredients and purée. Here’s one take on it. It’ll be a sweet and surprising addition to a summer chicken salad or grain bowl (see above).
Peel and mash a cup of fresh figs. Add to a blender with one diced shallot, 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar, ¼ teaspoon vanilla, ½ teaspoon orange zest, ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon each salt and ground pepper, and 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil. Blend until smooth. It’s perfect for a fall salad, but also over vegetables and baked or roasted chicken.
If you make one-pan dinners, like roasted chicken breasts with vegetables, add sweetness and texture by roasting seasonal fruit in the same pan.
In cool months, peel and section oranges, tangerines, persimmons, apples, fresh figs, or pear slices.
In warm months, opt for peaches, plums, or other stone fruit slices.
Alternately, focus on the fruit by roasting apples or pears in the winter and apricots, watermelon, peaches, or other stone fruit (or, very carefully, strawberries) in the summer. Feature them on a bed of arugula or other greens with toasted nuts, feta cheese, and chopped fresh herbs.
Make your own popsicles using a set of popsicle molds (easy to find online). Purée nonfat yogurt with your favorite fruit. Add a sweetener if you want, plus herbs or spices for a twist. Pour into individual molds and freeze until set. Need inspiration?
Yogurt, blackberries, and a touch of lavender.
Yogurt, peaches, and fennel powder.
Turn up the flavor with heat using a pinch of cayenne powder or make it cozy with cinnamon and nutmeg or vanilla.
Grilling fruit caramelizes their natural sugars and adds smokiness. Just make sure your fruit is fully ripe so you get a tender bite. No grill? No problem — use your oven’s broiler.
Add fruit to vegetable, chicken, or fish kabab skewers and grill.
Grill slices of watermelon, peaches, or papaya (or make fruit kabobs) to serve as a side dish with a drizzle of spice- or herb-infused yogurt or a drizzle of fruit vinaigrette (see above).
Dice the grilled fruit and toss with vegetables like summer squash, asparagus, or sugar snap peas.
Enjoy grilled fruit as a topping for frozen nonfat sugar-free yogurt.
Slice lemons or oranges in half, spray with a little olive oil, and grill them to squeeze over chicken, fish, or veggies.
Splurge on a low-sugar “sundae” with a bowl of berries, Greek nonfat yogurt, and a swirl of sugar-free chocolate syrup.
Create a fruit salsa to enjoy as a condiment on a fish taco or taco bowl with whole grains. Or use it to add sweetness and spice to baked or roasted fish, chicken, or vegetables. The salsa can be all fruit, or simply add chopped watermelon, strawberries, kiwis, or other ripe fruit to a traditional salsa made with jalapeños, minced cilantro, diced yellow or red onion, tomatoes or tomatillos, lime juice, and a little salt.
Fruity Ice Cubes
Take the heat off in the summer by plopping cubes of pureed, frozen fruit into chilled sparkling water. Just select your fruit, whether watermelon, berries, mango, or a mix, add a bit of water, and place in the blender to purée. Or just cut up pieces to let the fruit shine. Jazz it up with mint or other herbs if you like. Place into ice cube trays and freeze. Once they’re frozen you can unmold the cubes and store in a freezer bag.