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July, 2012

Sweet Summer Fruit

By Cheryl Forberg

Enjoy your servings of fruit all day long, from a sprinkling of fresh berries on your oatmeal to a wedge of melon with a dollop of yogurt for an evening snack.

Peaches

Plump and fragrant peaches, succulent cherries, and juicy watermelon -- the sweet flavors of summer are here. Sure they’re loaded with natural sugars, but you can still indulge in these seasonal sweets, even if you’re watching your weight. Just as “good” carbs and lean protein are an integral part of a healthy diet, knowing the ABC’s of fresh fruit allows you to enjoy their luscious flavors while sticking to your weight loss plan. Here are key points to remember:

It’s not just for breakfast. Enjoy your servings of fruit all day long, from a sprinkling of fresh berries on your oatmeal to a wedge of melon with a dollop of yogurt for an evening snack. Not only does this allow you to savor fruit’s pleasures throughout the day, it helps to regulate your blood sugar. Fresh fruits are also excellent sources of vitamins and antioxidants. Many of these vitamins are water-soluble, meaning they stay in our bloodstream for a matter of hours. Keep your antioxidant supply constant by spreading your fruit servings throughout the day.

Energy Carbs are our best energy source, so keep that in mind when planning your menus. No one wants to crash and burn after breakfast. Pace yourself, and your fruit servings by enjoying it more than once during the day. This means not having a whole melon for breakfast. Rule of thumb is that most whole fruit serving sizes are one half cup. Melons, such as cantaloupe or watermelon are a whole cup.

Variety is Key. Take advantage of summer’s bounty and choose fruits from the different color groups: light green, dark green, orange, red, purple and yellow. This keeps it interesting while infusing a variety of different nutrients in your diet.

Blueberries

Focus on fresh. Dried fruits are often treated with additives; they’re also very concentrated in calories and sugar. Case in point: 2 tablespoons dried blueberries have more calories than ¾ cup fresh blueberries. The fresh blueberries have more volume and thus, they’re more filling. And when the season’s passed and we don’t have summer’s abundant choices at our fingertips, frozen fruit is an excellent option for smoothies and such, as long as they’re not packed with sugar.

Eat your fruit. Choose whole fruits over fruit juices. Fruit juice contains little fiber so it’s less filling and a more concentrated form of sugar. Whole fruit is loaded with fiber, which increases satiety while slowing the release of blood sugars. Keeping your blood sugar on an even keel is key, plus it helps control your appetite.

Grilled Mango Smoothie

Lassi (or lhassi) is an Indian yogurt drink. A savory lassi may be flavored with spices such as cumin and may even contain salt. This frothy and sweet lassi is enriched with creamy mango. It's typical of the sweet lassis often served to balance the heat of spicy curry dishes. Like yogurt, kefir is a milk beverage that is fermented with good bacteria. Unlike yogurt, kefir is fermented with different (and more) types of bacteria and yeast, resulting in a higher concentration of probiotics to help aid digestion.
Grilled Mango Smoothie

Yield: One 1½ cups or two ¾ cup servings

Ingredients:
1½ cups Ice Cold Plain Low Fat Goat (or Cow) Kefir
1 medium Mango (ripe not soft)
1 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract Pinch of Nutmeg
6 Ice Cubes

Garnish:
Fresh Mint

Instructions:
Preheat grill to medium high heat.

Wash mango. Cut the (unpeeled) flesh away from the large flat seed in the center. Turn mango over and repeat.

Grill the mango slices cut side down on preheated grill until nicely marked - about 4 minutes.

Remove from grill and cool completely Combine all ingredients in a blender and purée until smooth. Serve immediately.