Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fruits, Fibers and other Foreign Substances

I'm not a fan of fruit. Hard to believe considering I grew up with an apple orchard and peach orchard behind my house that I would regularly raid for treats; usually while I was disappearing from my mother's watchful eyes to sneak over to the chicken farm and get a homemade chocolate chip cookie and some milk from Mrs. Hurff.

Then we moved to Venezuela because of my father's job and I was introduced a whole new category of fruits there. Papayas, mangos, guavas (aka guayaba), guanabanas (soursop) and plantains (cooking bananas). I couldn't get enough! As my friend and I skated through my neighborhood, we would snack our way through the day from fruit trees scattered all about. No one seemed to have a problem with our picking fruits and moving on. We were just kids and having the time of our lives.

Tropical Fruit Salad. -Wikimedia Commons

When I came home, I just didn't have the same desire for fruit that I'd had. Tropical fruits and Hispanic foods were not yet part of the local grocery store's offerings. The orchards had been all cut down while we were gone because of the passing of the orchard owner and was now a cow pasture. I just didn't see fresh fruits as often as I once had. That doesn't mean we didn't have fruit ever. Mom served fruit with almost every dinner. It wasn't dessert, but one of the sides we'd have with every meal. Dad loved canned peaches, but sometimes we'd have fruit cocktail or pears. Fruit was fairly regular as were bananas with Dad and I both loved sliced with milk and sugar - hold the cereal.

Canned Peaches - Wikimedia Commons

But, that childhood love of holding a fruit in my hands, of eating it fresh from the tree was gone. I rarely even opened a can for myself until I had kids of my own. By then, though, tropical fruits were becoming more and more available, although I still preferred the canned versions or the nectars that were also available.

My kids, unlike their mother, took to fruits and vegetables like a fish to water. It was just natural for them. If I'd supplied fruit as often as they ate it, I'd have spent all of my food budget on fruit alone (and tomatoes, another fruit in its own right). I could never keep enough plums, nectarines, peaches, bananas, grapes, or kiwi on hand to keep their cravings satisfied.

So, for others who are less enamored with fruit as I am, I'd like to offer the following suggestions in order to get your daily dose of fruit, fiber and nutrition.

Applesauce. Yes. Applesauce. Even better, make it yourself. I might not eat the fruit off the tree, but I sure will eat it cooked down and mushy! You don't even have to add sugar, just a little water, after you've pared and cut up your apples. Make sure you have more than you think you'll make because they will shrink after they're cooked. You can leave the applesauce chunky or you can put it through the food processor or sieve to get rid of the chunky pieces. Get rid of any seeds that managed to escape your first attempt to remove them. They're cooked now and can't get away. If you're inclined, add a little cinnamon to taste. I've been known to eat this while it's still warm. Find one of many recipes here: Applesauce.

Pie Filling. What? Heck yeah! Pie Filling! You can make cobblers, dump cakes, use it to top short cakes, cheese cakes, dumplings, or have it over ice cream (really nice warm, I have to say). Here's just one option from a fellow blogger: Blueberry Cobbler Cake.

Smoothies. They're very popular right now. They can be healthy or they can be risky for diabetics, but there's a recipe for everyone if you look hard enough. And, they're really, really good!! Here's another blog that's all about fruit smoothies of all flavors. Tasty Smoothies.

Lassis. No, I'm not talking about collies. I'm talking about a drink usually found in Indian restaurants that is a type of smoothie. My favorite is mango, but you can use strawberries, raspberries, papaya, etc. They're fairly simple and not as foreign as their origin might suggest. Usually made with yogurt and fruit with a touch of milk, they are easy to throw together at home (if you can find your blender - I'm having that problem at the moment). One recipe source is here: Cheap Healthy Good.

Juice. This is a given. You can find juices everywhere, blended yet 100%, single fruit 100%, cocktails (best with cranberry, I think), nectars, fruit-flavored vegetable (the V8 brand), among other choices. Do I recommend that you try making juice at home? Unless you're going on a major juice diet, the cost of buying a juicer really wouldn't be worth it. For juice, it might be better stick with what you know. What you can find in bottles will taste the best. Concentrate is next best. I would personally avoid canned juices - the acids in the juices pick up too much of the metallic flavors from the can. I'll drink them, but I'd recommend not.

Lastly, there's the juice from canned fruit. You read that right. The juice that fruit is packed in contains tiny bits of fruit, fiber and nutrients from the fruit. Why throw that down the drain when you can use it elsewhere to get every bit of goodness and penny's worth out of it? Here are some ideas on how to do just that: Use The Juice.

I hope this helps you add fruit to your diet if, like me, you're not one for eating a lot of fruit. I'm sure you know it's good for you just like I do. The problem is the doing, right?


  1. I think I eat more fruit now than I did as a kid. Well, except the times I raided the neighbors' trees.

  2. I love fruit...I just wish I was as fond of veggies. ;O)

  3. I love fruit, it is way more satisfying then anything else at certain times throughout the day.

  4. Word Nerd - that might just be my "V" blog!

    I still am not much on snacking on fruit, but if I see tropical fruit or cantaloupe on a buffet table, I'm there!!