Ambrosia with Coconut and Toasted Pecans
By Cheryl Forberg, RD
Plump and fragrant peaches, succulent cherries, and juicy watermelon -- the sweet flavors of fruit can help us satisfy our sweet tooth as well as any gooey, creamy dessert. Sure, they’re loaded with natural sugars, but you can still indulge in these scrumptious 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.
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 servings 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.
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.
This is one of my favorite fruit recipes and it can be enjoyed for breakfast, dessert or as a snack.
Makes 8 servings
This classic Southern inspiration is a simple refreshing dessert. Skip the sherry and top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and you have a protein rich breakfast or snack.
4 cups melon, papaya or pineapple cut into ¾ inch cubes
2 crisp apples, cored and diced
6 seedless tangerines, separated into segments
1 banana, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise
2 tablespoons cream sherry
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
½ cup unsweetened flaked coconut, toasted
Fresh mint leaves
In a large bowl, combine pineapple, apples, oranges and sherry. (Ambrosia can be made to this point, 4 hours ahead and chilled, covered.)
Divide ambrosia between eight chilled serving dishes. Sprinkle almonds and coconut on top just before serving. Garnish with fresh mint. Keeps refrigerated for one day.
NA for one serving
Total fat 7 g
Sat Fat 2 g
Carb 27 g
Fiber 5 g
Pro 2 g
Vit A 20% RDA
Vit C 100% RDA
Calcium 4% RDA
Iron 4% RDA