Many of us love having ice cream, especially in the summer, but sometimes we need to be reminded that fresh fruit is a smarter choice to satisfy a summertime sweet tooth.
The produce aisle is well-stocked with family-friendly berries, grapes, melons, peaches, plums, pears, cherries and plenty of other options during the summer months. And according to the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines, fruits and vegetables are major contributors of nutrients that are under-consumed in the United States – including folate, magnesium, potassium, fiber and vitamins A, C and K.
At the same time, they’re a shrewd alternative to desserts, such as ice cream, cakes, cookies and pies, which are major contributors of excess sugar and fat in the American diet.
Fruit contains minuscule fat, or none at all, and the natural sugars from whole fruit don’t appear to cause the blood glucose spikes that occur with refined sugar. If your family likes ice cream, go ahead and occasionally serve reasonable (half-cup) portions, but pile the fruit on top. Sliced strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and peaches all make great additions.
Here are more ideas from eXtension (pronounced “E-extension”), a research-based learning network sponsored by the nation’s land-grant universities:
- Let your kids choose what fruit you buy at the grocery store or farmers market. Get them involved in preparing the items when you get home. Even something as easy as rinsing off the fruit before eating gets the kids engaged and can generate their interest in actually eating it.
- Keep fruit in sight. For fruit that doesn’t have to be kept cool, keep it in a bowl on the kitchen counter. Even if you store most fruit in your refrigerator’s fruit bin, keep some on an easy-to-reach shelf in the fridge. Make the healthy choice the easy choice.
- Make fruit your go-to dessert. Don’t save watermelon for special occasions: You couldn’t find a better choice to top off a summer meal.
- Freeze small fruit, such as berries or grapes, or chunks of larger fruits for a refreshing treat on a hot day.
- Add fruit to salads, and make salad your main dish once or twice a week by also including some chicken strips or other source of protein. Berries, apples and grapes are all great choices.
For additional information on incorporating fruits into a healthy diet, call the Extension office at 940-627-3341.
Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.