Ripe & Juicy: Making the Most of Summer Fruit

summer-fruitsSummer time is fruit time! Berries are bursting, peaches are perfect, and melons are mouthwatering. Whether you’re looking for a quick snack or planning a picnic, summer fruit tastes good and is good for you. Bonus point: compared to tropical fruits like bananas and mangos, summer fruits have less sugar and a lower glycemic impact. Berries in particular are naturally low in sugar (and high in antioxidants thanks to their deep red and purple hues), but even melons are good options—they contain so much water that their sugar load is diluted.

Stone fruits like peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, and cherries offer an array of flavors and colors along with their relatively low sugar content, plus they’re excellent candidates for dehydrating and enjoying later in the year. Many farmers also use traditional, non-GMO techniques to cross-breed different kinds of stone fruit to create new hybrids. Ever tried an aprium? Or a pluot? A peacotum? Those are just a few fun varieties to try. (Hint: hybrid names are usually a combination of “peach” + “apricot” + “plum” and/or + “cherry,” making peacotums a combination of PEAches, apriCOTs, and plUMs.)

Some quick ideas for making the most of summer fruit:

  • Smoothies are a simple and easy way to add summer fruit to your diet whether after a workout, for breakfast, snacks, or anytime of day.  I love berries in my smoothies and you can add any number of additions for healthy fats such as almond butter, coconut milk, or even avocado!
  • Make a simple fruit salad by tossing your favorite combination of fruit with lemon or orange juice. Serve topped with mascarpone or freshly whipped cream and a sprinkling of toasted almonds or toasted coconut flakes. Unlike apples and pears, summer fruit doesn’t brown, so you can make your salad a few hours ahead of time if you’d like.
  • If you have a dehydrator, you can puree your fruit, then spread it out thinly on a tray and make your own fruit leather. (Think of Fruit Roll-Ups, except that yours will be made with real fruit rather than corn syrup, sugar, and artificial colors.)
  • Berries and melon balls make adorable kebabs! Thread them onto a skewer and alternate them with pearl mozzarella, cubed hard cheeses like Parmesan and Cheddar, and fresh herbs.
  • If you have an ice cream maker, use it! Nothing says summer like freshly churned strawberry or peach ice cream.
  • Make fruit parfaits: layer bite-sized summer fruit and Greek yogurt into a pretty glass, adding optional additional layers of cacao nibs or chopped dark chocolate, toasted nuts, and/or homemade granola.
  • Try stirring sliced summer fruit into your next batch of pancake batter, or serve the fruit on top of the finished pancakes (or crepes).
  • Make a naturally sweeter salsa by using stone fruit instead of tomatoes.
  • Two words: blueberry muffins. It’s quicker to make your own than run to the store to get them.
  • Berries and stone fruits are particularly good candidates for making jam. Plums are naturally high in pectin—you’ll need that to thicken the jam—but powdered pectin is readily available, so you can make whatever kind of summer fruit jam you like.
  • Instead of croutons, top your salads with berries.
  • Do what the Italians do and wrap a slice of cantaloupe with a thin slice of prosciutto. Instant elegance!
  • Or just enjoy summer fruits all on their own. They’re ripe for the picking!

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