Eat Like a Mediterranean, Day 3

Bump Up your Fruit Intake

My son enjoying an apircot for midday snack!

My son enjoying a fresh apricot for his midday snack!

We’ve all been told that eating more fruits and vegetables is key to good health and weight management, yet we still seem to have trouble putting this knowledge into action.  Yesterday I discussed the importance of adding more vegetables to your meals.  Veggies really should take center stage at meals and eating a variety of vegetables each day will put you one step closer to eating like those in the Mediterranean region who enjoy some of the lowest rates of heart disease and other debilitating diseases.

Where fruit is concerned, I’m not suggesting you go hog-wild on eating fruit at every meal.  Instead, I encourage you use fruit in ways you may not often.  Breakfast is an easy and obvious way to toss in some fresh fruit: in a smoothie, served over cereal or yogurt, or enjoyed as a fruit salad.  Aim for at least one serving (a tennis ball sized piece of fruit, 1 cup berries, 1/2 grapefruit, 4-inch banana, etc.) at breakfast each day.  When it comes to snack time, most of us end up grabbing a granola bar or energy bar, crackers, bag of chips or other highly processed food.  I challenge you to pass up on this junk and grab a piece of fresh fruit instead!  Enjoy a bowl of berries (over cottage cheese or yogurt), some dried or fresh apricots, a peach (in season now here in Charleston and wonderfully juicy!), apple, orange, or any other of your favorite fruit.

Another way to enjoy fresh fruit like the Mediterraneans do is to incorporate it as a dessert.  Fresh fruit served over some yogurt or drizzled with honey or lemon juice and some mint can make for a satisfying ending to a meal.  My family also enjoys eating frozen fruit for dessert.  Our favorites are frozen pineapple tidbits, mango cubes, and strawberries.  During the summer months, we love to grill apricots, peaches and plums and top with a dollop of frozen yogurt – delicious!  You fulfill your sweet tooth without wreaking havoc on your health or waistline.  Plus you get a host of antioxidant nutrients and dietary fiber.

At our home, I try to introduce different fruits to my kids.  For example, last fall I brought home some persimmon from the grocery store.  My first experience with persimmon was over a decade ago in California at my aunt’s home.  Juicy, soft, and sweet, I loved it sliced and served with yogurt.  I introduced persimmon to my boys and to this day it’s my youngest’s favorite fruit!  Since they are no longer in season, I’ve been purchasing more apricots and peaches.  As you can see from the picture above, my youngest gobbles up fresh apricots every chance he gets.  It makes for a great, portable snack.  And the fun part for him is that he can have two at a time, since two apricots are a serving.

If you are more of a “juicer” (I’m not a total fan of juicing but with my VitaMix at least all of the components of the fruit remain intact), try this refreshing recipe below.  I made it for my husband’s breakfast for father’s day and it was a hit!  Great for when you have watermelon that is not super sweet but you want to use it up….

Watermelon, Cucumber & Mint Juice

Makes 4, 8-ounce glasses

1/2 medium seedless watermelon, cubed

1/2 large cucumber, skin intact

4-5 fresh mint leaves

Place ingredients in a blender or VitaMix and puree until desired consistency.  Serve immediately over ice.

Fresh watermelon, cucumber and mint waiting to be pureed.

Fresh watermelon, cucumber and mint waiting to be pureed.

Delicious and refreshing watermelon cucumber mint juice for breakfast.

Delicious and refreshing watermelon cucumber mint juice for breakfast.






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