- Fresh Fruit Anyone?
Fresh Fruit Anyone?
Do you want to eat more fresh fruit?
Perhaps you wish your kids’ diet included more fresh fruit?
Welcome to a very fruity post indeed!
Today we’re using fresh fruit to make delightful, super-easy healthy treats which are a breeze to whip up.
I promise to keep it very simple, with no cooking involved, and all preps between 3-15 minutes. That’s right!
What’s more, I’ll teach you a few tricks to make fruit even sweeter, without adding any sugar or other sweeteners. Those with a sweet tooth – stay tuned!
If you or your children are not big on fruit, stick with me. I hope I persuade you to give it a try by the end of this post.
Before we start, I know many of us think store-bought fruit-flavored snacks (or industrial snacks which have some fruit in them) are just as good as fresh fruit. Or, are they?
Well, as a matter of fact, these are two entirely different things. One is real food. The other - a processed product.
Industrial snacks are often heavily processed and laden with added sugar, preservatives and other compounds which enhance shelf-life. These products are a far cry from REAL fresh fruit, a wholesome food, vibrant with life force, nutrients, vitamins, and enzymes.
Our aim is to claim back control over what we put in our mouth, and replace heavily processed ready-made snacks with homemade fruity alternatives.
Today we’ll be showcasing the beauty of simplicity by going back to basics.
I hope to tickle your creativity along the way.
Fresh fruit is colorful, juicy, crunchy, hydrating, refreshing, creamy, and naturally sweet. It’s a gift from Mother Nature. This post is a nod to its bounty.
Let’s go to the grocery store (or green grocer’s, or farmers’ market, or ‘pick-your-own’ farm), and take a walk in the fresh fruit aisles.
Take in the abundance of colors, appreciate the different shapes, and savor the sweet aromas.
Now that you’re in the right spirit, pick fruit to your liking, and allow yourself to be tempted. You might even reach for fruit you’ve never tried before!
If you have kids, take them with you and let them choose their fruit. This is called ‘positive exposure’ and it’s a great way to get them involved. They may naturally gravitate towards good-looking fruit, which is great. As you shall soon realize, looks play an essential role in desirability, so it’s important that your fruit looks appealing.
Thinking about budget?
Aim for produce that’s local and in-season (if at all possible), and check what’s on offer.
That said, this is really about priorities.
In our family for example, fresh fruit -preferably organic- ranks very high when it comes to our weekly groceries. On the flip side, we don’t buy sodas, ready-made desserts, prepared-meals, or too much processed food, so we can divert quite a bit of our grocery budget to fresh produce. We simply rather put our money into something healthy and nutritious.
Ok. Now you have your fruit. Now what?
Now we head back home.
If the fruit requires refrigeration, put it in the fridge, but make sure it’s accessible, within easy reach, and not higher than eye level.
If your fruit can be left at room temperature (think apples, oranges, bananas) place them on the kitchen counter or on the dining table in a nice basket or in an attractive bowl. They can easily replace a flower bouquet!
If you have some unhealthy stuff around, place it way above eye level and out of reach. We’re touching on the notion of accessibility here, and our strategy is to make the fruit readily available -literally front and center- and the unhealthy products much less so.
Are you or your children a little peckish?
No worries, we’ve got this!
Surely you have a few apples somewhere? (And if not, go add them to your grocery list!)
Apples are an easy one.
If the apple is nicely firm and you feel like giving it a hearty bite, just go ahead and do so. And if you want to jazz it up a little, slice it!
Look! We’re making a flower!
However, if the apple is slightly old and wrinkly (but still reasonable) – shred it.
You know, purée it, mash it.
Peeling is optional.
Squeeze some fresh lemon on your mash for extra deliciousness, mix, and enjoy right away. Don’t wait. Apples tend to go brown quickly, once cut open.
I’ll let you in on a little secret:
Shredding, puréeing, mashing, grating, and chopping into small pieces, makes apples (and many other fruits) taste sweeter 1. I’m not quite sure why. There must be some scientific explanation. Maybe it releases the natural juices from the apples, or simply because this way you get much more fruit per bite.
Chopping also helps those who find large pieces of fruit skin hard to digest. And if that is the case, peeling the fruit should help.
This lovely juicy half-orange is cut up around the circumference and along the internal white lines, making it easy to scoop out the flesh. The orange is literally drenched in its own natural ‘sauce’.
This is my son’s go-to.
Speaking of my son, a while back, while slurping on an orange like the one in the picture, he casually remarked that “It’s so much yummier when it’s pretty”, unbeknownst to him summarizing one of the most fundamental principles of food marketing: we eat with our eyes first.
Don’t underestimate the power of presentation. Go get a see-through serving bowl for this one. The vibrant color is a joy for the eyes.
What else can you do with an orange?
Squeeze it into juice with the flesh. An easy pick-me-up!
Now let’s practice some easy knife skills!
Ready for some joyful splattering? How about this mango porcupine?
A little criss-cross is all you need for this cutie. Always a hit!
I love watching our youngest bury her face in the mango, glasses and all, munching and licking every last morsel of it...
Since she tends to nibble at the peel too, I always rinse the mango before I serve. Still charmingly messy, but a little more hygienic…
You know what’s great about strawberries, grapes, raspberries, cherries and the like?
And there’s no need to cut or peel them. I love it when it’s effortless!
They make for a perfect playdate snack, birthday party finger food, or whenever you’re asked to bring a healthy treat to school. Tried and true!
The other day I served this tray on my daughter’s birthday party. Boy, those girls chugged the whole thing in no time at all and even asked for more!
Tip: serve fresh fruit BEFORE the cake and candy, and make sure this is the only snack on the table.
A kind reminder that fruit needs to look desirable if our aim is to encourage fruit consumption.
Serving old wrinkled leftover unappealing fruit would defeat that purpose. (And if you’re wondering what to do with old fruits, look at my fruit compote post)
Another fun idea is fruit skewers.
And here’s a little anecdote: see the picture with the strawberries on the cutting board?
I was going to plate the strawberries on a nice tray together with a luscious dip of whipped cream/plain yogurt/homemade kefir, to show you how to serve them, but by the time I took the picture and went to the computer to upload it to the internet, only the green tops were left on the cutting board... Oh my! Need to be faster next time, lol!
Those were some gorgeous strawberries! I think they would’ve converted even the pickiest of eaters.
On the same note: here’s a little dirty trick to try on picky eaters. No guarantee it would work, but worth trying:
A while back I wanted to put my theory of reverse psychology to the test, so I chose a kiwi for the challenge. (Kiwis taste great, but visually resemble brown boulders…)
I wanted to see if my kids would be tempted to try the kiwi just by watching me eating it.
So I made sure they were around, and then peeled and sliced the kiwi, and without offering them any, gorged everything while mumbling to myself ‘yummy!’ and ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ and ‘I’m going to make some more!’
It obviously appealed to their curiosity, because a minute later they asked to try some. Surely, it must be THAT good if mommy likes it so much that she doesn’t even want to share, right?
Outcome: out of three kids one really liked it, one said it was ok, and one didn’t (but was still congratulated for trying).
I’m concluding therefore, that my reverse psychology might work on some people some of the time… At least I got them to try something new… Not giving up on the other two though. I’ll offer them kiwi again in a while. See if their taste changes.
If you feel like serving something more elaborate, go for a fruit salad.
All you need to do is cut any combination of fruit into small chunks and serve in a see-through bowl.
That’s it. Job done.
For those with a sweet tooth, here are a few ideas for enhancing sweetness without adding sugar:
- Cut the fruit small.
- Use very ripe fruit. It’s naturally sweeter. (And usually softer, which adds an oomph of creaminess and richness).
- Include a very ripe banana and a very ripe mango. They are nature’s sweeteners.
- Add some unsweetened dry fruit.
- Squeeze a very ripe orange as a sauce on top of your salad. Then mix and refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the salad drench in the juice. That should blend the flavors and intensify the sweetness.
Also, I would generally cut down on candy and other sugary snacks which flood your body with an overdose of gratuitous concentrated sugar. Once your system is ‘cleaner’ of these, you may find the natural sweetness of fruit exquisitely pleasant. My thoughts.
If you have kids, make the salad together.
Remember ‘positive exposure’?
There’s nothing like sharing this precious moment, infused with good vibe, where they learn first-hand to connect with their food by touching it.
What’s more, by making them part of the process, the salad becomes their own creation, and they’re more likely to enjoy it.
Most importantly, they’ll associate fruit salad with family-time and togetherness, creating fun memories to last them a life time.
When I was a child, our weekend dinner would often end up with an elaborate fruit salad, made by us kids.
Oh the fun!
Slicing the apples, chopping the plums, squeezing the oranges, the juice running down our elbows… We’d lick our fingers (literally) and shove them back in the salad! And of course, we double-dipped, but kept it a secret… What a blissful mess!
An hour later and out we came from the kitchen, holding a bowl of fruit salad in all its magnificent glory!
I cherish deeply those beautiful memories from so many years ago, and I also appreciate my parents’ wisdom to confer to us kids the task of making that beloved fruit salad, one that has become a family tradition over the years.
Fast forward a generation, and needless to say, this is one of my children’s favorites today. I’m sure you can connect the dots.
I’ll take the opportunity to talk about the connection between children’s fruit consumption and their parents’.
Your children see what you eat and learn about food choices from your example. Your actions speak louder than words.
If you enjoy fruit, it’s very likely they would too. But if you never eat fresh fruit, why should they?
A bit more on that point: I love grapefruit. But as I always thought this might be a little too bitter for a young palate, I never offered it to my kids. One day they asked to try some of mine, and lo and behold, they liked it! Would it be a surprise then, if I told you that when I was a child my mom used to eat grapefruit almost every day?
Back to our fruit salad.
To take it up a notch and save some washing, turn the fruit into serving bowls!
It’s totally doable. Use any large fleshy fruit such as oranges, grapefruits, melons, cantaloupes and watermelons.
Scoop out the flesh, add it to the salad, and then just fill the hollowed half with the fruit salad.
After the meal you can simply toss the ‘bowls’ into the compost.
Another important tip:
Since novelty is part of the attraction and variety is key, once you’ve nailed a fruity treat and got the thumbs up from your family, do yourself a favor and don’t repeat it over and over. You want to keep your family on their toes, not to wither the magic. Serve it from time to time, not too often.
If yesterday you offered a mango, go for a platter of berries today.
And tomorrow we’ll indulge in a truly awesome fruitilicious goodness, such as this one!
Double-layered fruit pudding
Adapted from Chef Bobby Flay’s Layered Smoothie recipe, here comes my spin on this drool-worthy masterpiece!
Top layer: thick strawberry-banana smoothie. Bottom layer: mango-cream pudding.
We make two separate layers and then stack them. It’s much easier than you might think!
What you need to know:
- The bottom layer needs to be fairly thick in order to hold the top layer without caving in.
- The top layer should be thick enough to support the garnish without drowning it.
- Each ingredient plays a very specific role here:
The banana and whipped cream yield a silky richness.
The mango and strawberries bring on the lively colors and pop of freshness.
The lemon juice, lemon zest and orange zest add a punch of flavor.
Since we use very ripe fruit, our dessert will come out very sweet, without any sweetener added.
Here it is!
Preps: 15 minutes
You will need:
- 2 very ripe and soft mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
- 12-13 very ripe strawberries, hulled
- 2 very ripe bananas
- ¾ tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
- A pinch lemon zest
- A pinch orange zest
- ¾ cup whipping cream (organic is great)
- One raspberry and one thin slice of banana per serving
You’ll also need:
- 3 bowls or jars for blending
- Individual see-through serving glasses
How to make it:
- In a large bowl blend mango and lemon juice till smooth.
- In a separate bowl whip cream with lemon zest and orange zest till velvety.
- Gently combine mango and cream by mixing with a spoon, till smooth and thick.
- In another jar blend bananas and strawberries till smooth and viscous.
- Optional: refrigerate both mixtures for 30 minutes to set. (Do not combine them.)
- Before serving, fill each serving glass half way with the mango mixture. If necessary, tilt gently for even distribution.
- Gently fill with strawberry mixture to about half an inch from the top.
- Garnish with a thin banana slice placed horizontally, and a small raspberry.
Mango only at the bottom layer
- If you’re looking to swap the cream, try plain Greek yogurt, plain thick kefir or coconut milk, but keep in mind that changing the ingredients and ratios might turn this into a smoothie rather than pudding (which is not necessarily bad, but you won’t be able to layer it.)
- If you’d rather go for an entirely fruit-based version, just skip the cream, but take into account that the blended mango might feel a little heavy on the tummy. A small portion might be in order.
And now that we’re all brimming with joyful fruitiness, time for some fun trivia with the whole family!
Here we go!
- Name at least 5 different red fruits.
- Name all the yellow fruits you can think of. (Same with other colors)
- Which fruit’s skin has more than one color?
- Which color is named after a fruit?
- What are ‘citrus’ fruits? Where on the globe do they grow naturally?
- What is the largest fruit you can think of? The smallest?
- Can you think of a creamy fruit?
- What are ‘tropical’ fruits?
- Which fruit can be eaten with the skin?
- Can you think of a hairy fruit?
- Which fruit has no pit/seed inside it?
- Which fruits grow on shrubs? On the ground? On trees?
- Which fruits are mentioned in the bible?
- What can you make out of grapes? (think food and drink)
- Where do figs grow naturally?
- Which fruit is tart?
- What does this saying mean: ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’?
This is so much fun!
Homemade fruit treats are easy to make, creative, and incredibly satisfying.
Who said healthy and tasty don’t go together?
I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did writing it and taste-testing for it!
Wishing you a lovely and fruitful weekend,
Wise Choice Market
For more fruit-based summer treats click: 11 quick summer treats
This article represents its author’s opinion, and is not a medical, nutritional, or professional advice .
- Sugar in fruit:
Fresh fruit is a wholesome food, which among other wonderful nutrients, vitamins, enzymes and fiber, contains NATURAL sugar, which is much ‘friendlier’ towards our body -if I may use my own phrasing- and not as concentrated as refined processed sugar found in so many commercial edibles such as sodas, cereals, granola bars, flavored yogurts, store-bought fruit juices, ready-made desserts, and many more. And let’s not forget that the quantity you consume matters, and also which other foods you eat. That being said, if you’re seriously sensitive to sugar, you might need to watch your fruit intake. ‘All in moderation’ is a good general guideline, I find.