Friday, March 13, 2009

Five Food Groups Series - Number 3


Savour the taste of summer with a dessert platter of mangoes, cherries, nectarines, peaches and grapes. Keep sugar-cravings at bay by snacking on fresh berries and natural yoghurt Or top off a roast dinner with a warm, hot baked apple stuffed with prunes and walnuts.

With so many different shapes and sizes, in almost every colour of the rainbow, fruit is one of nature's true delights. Packed with vitamins, minerals and natural sugar, it's also a delicious and healthier alternative to the lolly jar.

Make the most of fruit by learning what's in season. Summer brings a smorgasbord of delicious fruits - including grapes, melons, mangoes, peaches, nectarines, pineapple, strawberries and cherries. In cooler months, you can't go past crisp apples, pears, or juicy sweet oranges, mandarins and tangelos.

Fresh, poached, squeezed, baked or fried, fruit offers an enormous variety of delectable flavours and textures. It also works wonders for our digestion, teeth, gums, immunity and overall well being. As the old saying goes, 'an apple a day….'

Why is this group good for me?

Fruit is an excellent natural source of fibre - which helps our digestive systems to process food efficiently.

Fruit is also a great alternative to refined sugar snacks - packed with a wonderful combination of vitamins and minerals essential for our day-to-day wellbeing and far fewer kilojoules.

All fruits are good sources of vitamin C, but oranges, mandarins, kiwifruit, berries, grapefruit, melons and pawpaw are especially good sources of this essential vitamin, which can boost your immune system.

How many serves a day do I need?

Try to enjoy at least 2 serves of fruit every day. An example of a serve could be:

  • 1 medium sized fruit eg. apple, orange, banana, etc
  • 2 small sized fruit eg. figs, plums, nectarines, etc
  • 4 dried apricots or 1 ½ tablespoons of sultanas
  • 1 handful of fresh raspberries
  • 8 strawberries
  • 1 cup of diced fruit
  • ¼ medium melon
  • ½ cup of fruit juice

Fresh food tips

One of the few savoury fruits, avocado is a delicious and healthy alternative to butter or margarine, with only a quarter of the fat content of yellow spreads. Avocado is also a good source of vitamin E, an antioxidant which is great for good health. For a quick and delicious breakfast, smooth ripe avocado on wholemeal toast with slices of vine-ripened tomato, thinly sliced mozzarella cheese, basil and some cracked pepper.

When summer heats up, start sipping on a fruity cocktail made with 300g pureed watermelon, the juice from one orange and ¼ cup of pureed strawberries. Just one fresh fruit cocktail will provide your total daily fruit intake!

For a fun barbeque dessert, try fresh fruit kebabs with banana, strawberry, kiwifruit, grapes and rockmelon. Serve on a platter with a yoghurt dip.

Slices of ripe stone fruit - such as peaches, plums and nectarines - make great additions to salads. They're also delicious cooked on the barbeque and served on a cheese platter alongside a creamy slice of camembert.

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