Looking for easy and delicious ways to increase your daily servings of fruit? We can help!
It’s true that most fruit is high in sugar, and while those sugars may be much better for us than corn syrup or processed white sugar, it’s still a good idea to get just the right amount in just the right ways, instead of over-doing it while thinking that we are improving our health.
Many people are juicing to get their daily servings of fruit and vegetables, which is certainly a great way to ingest all the good stuff that fruit has to offer, but it’s also a great way to ingest too much sugar at once. If your juice doesn’t contain too many fruits that are high in sugar, you’re good to go. However, most people prefer the taste of sweet, sugary fruits, and that sweet nectar can contain as much sugar as a can of pop, albeit a different kind of sugar. Drinking a litre of orange juice in one day is not a great way to “juice for health”, even if oranges do contain lot of vitamins.
Like everything in life, we need to consume fruit in moderation, and drinking the juice of 8 apples in one sitting isn’t quite as beneficial as eating a single, whole apple on it’s own. Besides vitamins and minerals, fruit can also provide us with a lot of fibre, which is important for a healthy diet. When it comes to fruit, balance is key!
We came up with 10 ways you can get your daily servings of fruit, without getting a sugar over load.
1. Fresh Fruit on Everything
First of all, eating more fruit is easy if you just start putting it on everything that you usually eat anyways. Instead of replacing entire snacks with fruit, just add fruit to your snacks. Try bananas in your peanut butter sandwich instead of store-bought jam. Use apples to scoop up hummus instead of chips or pita bread. Papaya is an amazing superfood with a very mild, melon-like taste, and can be easily added to oatmeal or cereal at breakfast. Mix orange pieces into your salad. Dice up some fresh mango and scoop it into your samosa. Put fresh strawberries on your ice cream instead of candy. Unless you seriously hate fruit in it’s fresh state, it shouldn’t be too hard to find places where you can get an extra serving without feeling like you’re giving anything up.
If you’re really not into eating whole fresh fruit and your go-to has been juicing and sugar-overloading, perhaps you’d like to get re-acquainted with your old friend, the smoothie. Unfortunately for smoothies, big fast-food companies have ruined their reputation for being a healthy snack/breakfast by adding massive amounts of sugar, processed ingredients, and unwanted calories. Fast-food smoothies are pretty much just fruit-flavoured milkshakes now! Fortunately for us, that doesn’t have to be the way it is if we are willing to make our own smoothies instead of picking one up at the local smoothie bar. If liquid fruit is the only way you can get it in your diet, try making your own healthy smoothies at home with a serving of chopped, fresh fruit, a cup of full fat (yes, full fat) unsweetened or naturally sweetened yogurt, and a cup of ice. If you get unsweetened yogurt and you want your smoothie a little sweeter, try adding a bit of honey, stevia, or agave syrup. Blend all of this into a smooth, creamy delight which you can either consume as-is, or add protein powder, chia seeds, flax oil, etc. The point of the healthy smoothie is to give you a well-portioned serving of fruit and some healthy digestive bacteria from the yogurt. If you want to level-up by adding fibre, aminos, etc., you have a much healthier base to do it from than anything you can get at the kiosk outside your office.
3. Fruit Salad
For many people who aren’t into eating whole, fresh fruit, fruit salad or fruit cocktail is as close as they will get. Fruit salad often consists of lots of really sweet fruits, tossed in yet more sugar. Most people who aren’t very fruit friendly will at least try strawberries, pineapple, apples, grapes, melon, and bananas, so that’s a start. We recommend making a salad from fruits that come with an even healthier punch than the usual sugary fruits, like papaya, blueberries, pomegranate seeds, kiwis, and raspberries. You can also skip the granulated white sugar coating for your fruit salad, but if you really do want to add some sweetness, reach for honey or agave instead. Think outside the box when it comes to fruit salad – it doesn’t always have to be the usual stuff!
You could try cooking chopped fruit right in to your pancakes, but sometimes it doesn’t go the way you plan. Some fruits can add too much moisture to your pancake batter, while others are so high in sugar that they can burn and stick to the bottom of the pan or griddle while the pancake is still cooking – some fruits just don’t respond well to direct heat. Blueberries and bananas are definitely popular for adding right in to pancake batter, but we also love to cook up chopped fruit to serve on top of the pancakes instead of using maple syrup (yes, this is a Canadian website, and yes, I just suggested leaving the maple syrup off your pancakes). We’ve found that the best fruits for frying into a pancake topping are apples, mangoes, raspberries, blackberries, and peaches. You can either fry up the fruit on it’s own with a bit of butter and cinnamon, or if you’d like a little sweetness, try adding honey or melting some natural brown sugar into your buttery fried fruit topping. When the fruit gets soft and bubbly, scoop it over your pancakes and let that buttery fruit drizzle down your silver dollar stack. You won’t even miss the syrup.
Here’s the thing about store-bought jam: it’s mostly sugar. Even your grandmas recipe for jam probably has at least a pound of sugar in it – that’s just how jam is made! However, there are alternatives out there that you can either make at home, or buy at the store. I’m talking about unsweetened or naturally sweetened jam. Some fruits need the sugar – raspberry jam and orange marmalade would be downright lip-puckering if the sweet stuff wasn’t added – while others really don’t. Strawberries, apples, and blueberries contain plenty of sweetness on their own, and in the case of blueberries, they even contain their own pectin (the agent added to jams and jellies to help them thicken and set). Some fruits really do need some sweetness, but you don’t have to reach for the corn syrup filled jam at the store or add white sugar to your recipe at home. There are many recipes for honey, stevia, and agave sweetened jams and jellies out there. At many grocery stores there is an organic aisle, and you can find naturally sweetened jams there too. Since you’ll be trying things from #1 like putting bananas on your sandwiches for sweetness instead of jam, you could try adding a spoonful of jam to your porridge instead of sugar or syrup, or a scoop of jam mixed in to those fresh strawberries on your ice cream. There can be healthier servings of fruit everywhere you look!
6. Ice Cream
We don’t just mean putting fresh fruit on your ice cream, we mean making your own frozen treats from the fruit you buy at the store. We have an article called “10 Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Veggies” that is all about using up excess fresh veggies before they go bad. Making Ice cream, frozen yogurt, glaceé, and sorbet is the best way to use up your fruit, while also sneaking it in to dessert in a way that no one could possibly argue with. There are many at-home ice-cream makers that you can get for very little these days, but simply stirring and scraping a bowl in the freezer every 30 minutes will also work in a pinch.
You could make a traditional-style ice cream or frozen yogurt with natural sweeteners instead of refined sugar and of course a huge heaping pile of chopped up fruit blended right in to your recipe, but we would also encourage you to check out the easy-peasy recipes out there for one ingredient banana ice cream. With your banana ice cream as a base, you could mix in other fruit for contrast – we love banana/peach, banana/blackberry, and banana/raspberry the most! Just chop up or even crush down your chosen fruit and mix it in to your banana ice cream while it’s in the food processor, then scrape the whole mixture into a bowl or container and freeze. It tastes like heaven, and it definitely counts as one of your daily servings of fruit. Yum!
Popsicles are the next best way to enjoy more fruit as a treat, especially for those who don’t like bananas and can’t use our suggestion of banana ice cream above. Just take our method for making smoothies in #2, and use that as your popsicle mixture. If you wanted your kids to embrace a fruity breakfast smoothie and they just weren’t having it, you can take the smoothie mixture and pour it straight in to a popsicle mold and pull out a creamy dessert for them later. For some reason, a breakfast smoothie seems “healthy” while a frozen treat on a stick seems like junk food, even though they are made of the same ingredients. Sometimes it’s all about presentation!
One thing we have to watch out for when it comes to muffins is the amount of oil in them, and that’s why I don’t often buy muffins from bakeries and coffee shops. Even if you buy a package of muffin mix to make at home, you’ll notice that many packages call for a 1/2 – full cup of oil or butter, besides all the sugar already added to the pre-packaged muffin mix. By now, it’s no secret that replacing certain ingredients in baking can help with sweetening, like using apple sauce in place of sugar, but did you know you can also use applesauce in place of oil? Other great oil substitutes are banana, mashed avocado, and ground flax seed. You definitely want to add fruit instead of chocolate chips to your muffins, but you can get another serving of fruit and fibre in there by swapping out a heap of cholesterol and fat for unsweetened apple sauce. So easy.
Okay, okay, it’s not all whole fruit and unsweetened compote on this list. There are healthier alternatives to the sugar-laden and fat-laden pies out there – crusts these days don’t just have to be made with flour, lard, and refined sugar. Some people use corn starch with fruit juice concentrate, others use natural sweeteners. You’ll have to see what works for you, as each has their own different level of sweetness. If you can dig up one of the many alternatives to a traditionally sugary pie recipe, you might be able to find some new favourites by trying out some fruit combinations that you’ve never thought of before, while also being able to use up any excess fruit you might have lying around – after all, cooking up your not-so-pretty fruit into a pie or tart is not only a great way to avoid food waste, it’s a great excuse to enjoy some of that one ingredient banana ice cream we told you about! If you can reduce the sugar that traditionally goes in to a pie, you can bake up a serving of fruit for dessert that doesn’t have to come with more cons than pros.
Like we said, it’s not all about “hippie food” when it comes to eating more fruit. Yes, sangria is made with wine, and yes, wine is best consumed in moderation. But since you’re drinking it anyways, why not add a little fruit right in to your decanter. Sangria is obviously just for adults, so while the kids are enjoying some low-sugar fruit pie with banana ice cream, you can enjoy a glass of red wine mixed with some pomegranate liqueur, peaches, mangoes, and strawberries. The longer you let that fruit soak in the wine, the more the wine and fruit can mingle their flavours together. A perfect way to get just one more serving of fruit in at the end of the day.