Everyone knows we should eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, but unfortunately it’s much easier to convince ourselves to get a hamburger, fries and a tall soft drink than it is to make an effort to include healthier foods in our diet.
Folks, this is the best time of year to get to know our produce department because the summer fresh fruit season is at its peak for the next several weeks. There is always a deep selection of fruits on our racks, many only offered in the summer months like sweet, tart bing cherries, sweet plums, and peaches. As a bit of incentive, here are a few astonishing fruit facts to help convince you to load up your shopping cart with less snacks, canned and processed foods, and more fresh fruits.
Berries – Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and raspberries, what’s not to love? These convenient snack-worthy hand foods are packed with nutrients. Berries are one super food that can impact your health far more than the typical fruit. They are an excellent source of disease-fighting antioxidants and offer greater anti-cancer activity than most other fruits. They also have a nutritional profile that any expert will tell you is worth their weight in gold.
Trying to lose a few excess pounds? Who isn’t? Eat a cup of berries every day for a between meal snack. It’s only 50-90 calories per cup (depending on the type of berry), and you get 3-4 grams of fiber to boot. Want to mix it up a bit? Toss berries into a spinach salad topped with toasted pecans or add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to a bowl of mixed berries and a dash of cinnamon.
Mangoes – If you have a Central or South American heritage, chances are mangoes are a large part of your diet. If not, it’s a fruit well worth getting to know better. Mangoes are packed with vitamins A and C, plus a healthy dose of beta-carotene, which may help prevent cancer and promotes healthy skin. Bonus: an entire mango only has 135 calories, and it's packed with 3.5 grams of fiber.
Here’s a cooking tip you may not know: Mangoes are a great tenderizing agent, and thus, perfect for marinades. Next time you are serving tacos, fish or chicken consider topping then with delicious mango salsa. For something refreshing anytime the heat rises, puree and freeze mangoes for an icy cool treat.
Peaches – The fresh peach season is always too short for me. A good fresh peach is bursting with sweet juicy flavor and always seems to refresh my palate. And talk about low cal: a medium peach has only 38 calories. What a peach lacks in calories it makes up for in measurable amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorous and vitamins C and K.
Here’s another food tip for less than usual uses of peaches: Try using fresh peaches as a topping for grilled meats like chicken and turkey, or mix them into savory foods like quesadillas, salads and salsas. You can even use peaches to make innovative barbecue sauces and marinades.
Watermelon – If you took all the water out of a watermelon you’d end up with a fruit about the size or a large lemon. That’s because 90% of what goes into a watermelon is water, making it by far the juiciest fruit around. It’s also loaded with disease-fighting lycopene (a powerful plant chemical linked to lower risks of some forms of cancer). They’re cool, sweet, hydrating, and they pair well with almost every food genre (salty, sweet, spicy, bitter -- you name it!).
Besides slurping on a cool, juicy slice, what else can you do with watermelon? Think salads (it's perfect with feta and mint), sorbets, icy beverages, and even soup (like gazpacho, but with watermelon instead of tomato).
I do hope that you take something away from this article and try adding a bit more fresh fruit to your daily diet this summer… You’ll be glad that you did.
See you in the produce aisle,
Dave Michaels – Store Manager