I was not thinking that I would include a section on fruit, because eating fruit seems so much easier than the other plants I have been focusing on. But then I remembered that the only health professional who has ever taken the time to question me closely about my diet, expressed concern that I was not getting enough fruit (I find it remarkable that I have been asked about my diet only one time in my life–and that was from a certified nurse practitioner! Has your physician asked you about your diet? Most don’t). Reading the nutritional panel report gives evidence that most Americans do not eat enough fruits either. Since that visit I have tried to pay attention to adding fruit into my diet. Here are a few ways I have been more successful:
- Follow the seasons. The single best way I have incorporated fruit into my diet is to eat seasonally. As I write this in early February on the east coast, you can get just about any fruit right now in grocery stores. But cantaloupe, for example will be coming from Guatemala. In the coming weeks, if you read the label on cantaloupe you can watch it move north–from South America, to Central America, to Mexico, then Texas, then Georgia, then sometime around July it will be LOCAL! Once fruit comes local or at least from the US, it is time to indulge. It is abundant, cheaper, fresher, and tastier.
- In winter, citrus is in season so you might try looking for schools, clubs or other organizations that sell citrus to raise funds. My son left Eleanor Roosevelt High School four years ago, but I still order band fruit from November to March. There is nothing like fresh Florida oranges or grapefruit shipped right from the farm. This is great for the organization and a wonderful way to get in more fruit. Winter is a good time to buy citrus in the grocery store as well.
- Out of season, buy frozen or canned. I try to keep frozen berries on hand all winter long, as they are good for smoothies or in desserts like crisps. Dried fruit is also a good option.
- In the summer, buy in bulk if possible and freeze the extras. Or go to a “you pick” farm during peach, apple blueberry or strawberry season and invest in a large quantity. Eat what you can, and freeze or can the rest. Berries can be frozen on cookies sheets, then transferred to freezer safe bags so they don’t mush together. Peaches, pears and apples can be sliced and cored, then also frozen on cookies sheets.
- Apples and pears have a longer shelf life than most fruits, and though they are best in the fall they do keep well through the winter, making them a good fruit for the winter months. It is super easy to make them into sauces too, which can be frozen.
- To make sauce just take 6 large pears or apple; peel, core and slice and put into a large pan. Add 1 cup water, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Mash with a potato masher or blender if you like it less chunky. No sugar is needed, but you can add cinnamon to taste.
- Keep fruit handy for lunches or snacks. For melon season, I like to cut up a large section of melon (watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew) into small pieces and store in a salad spinner or bowl with a colander. The water from the fruit drains out so it does not become waterlogged. It makes it easy to serve for meals or to grab as a snack.
- If you pack fruit in a lunchbox, take a minute as you prepare to cut or peel. Since the citrus I get is pretty juicy, I like to do the peeling and sectioning at home, and put the sections in a container. I often will slice apples too (as long as you are not bothered by a touch of brown). If you take time for this step, you will be less likely to leave the fruit on your desk uneaten!
- If fruit starts to go bad, don’t throw it out! Use it for smoothies, blended with ice for sorbet or baked in desserts like the crisp below or fruit galette.
- Don’t wash fruit with soft skins until you are ready to use it, as it will start to degrade.
- More ways to incorporate fruit can be found here
Finally, below is a recipe for fruit crisp that I have adapted from a recipe online and make all the time. I use what is in season, but often use apples, pears or peaches or sometimes frozen berries. I like the addition of cranberries, so when they are in season it the fall, I buy an extra bag and freeze them.
4 cups sliced apples, pears or peaches
(or use 3 cups of the above with 1 cup frozen or fresh berries)
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold Earth Balance buttery sticks,
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel and core the pears and apples and cut them into large chunks. Place the fruit in a large bowl and toss with the cranberries, zests, juices, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Pour into a 9 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish.
For the topping:
Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the mixture is in large crumbles. Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.
Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm.