Feast on Dried Fruits for Flavor and Health
I’m a big advocate of consuming more whole fruits, as these plant-based gifts from nature are packed with unique nutrients linked with health protection. Fruits contain rich stores of vitamins A, C, and K, fiber, manganese, potassium, copper, and a variety of phytochemicals linked with health protection. These phytochemicals are rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. No wonder studies link fruit consumption with lower risk of chronic diseases.
However, the summer fruit season is short and intense, when fresh fruits, such as peaches, apricots, berries, plums, and grapes first appear. Indeed, these are precious gems of the season, but they seem to vanish as quickly as they arrive. Fortunately, dried fruits are available all year long, offering a sustainable, seasonal, and healthful alternative for fresh forms when the summer season subsides. That’s why it’s a great idea to take advantage of summer’s bounty and enjoy dried fruits all year long.
Dried fruits are a healthy alternative to fresh fruit. How are dried fruits created? Drying removes water, which makes them shelf stable, and produces a rich, sweet flavor, while concentrating some nutrients, such as fiber, iron, and potassium. Dried fruits are a more seasonal, sustainable offering during the off-season, helping you to limit the number of miles your produce travels to you in the cooler months. They can also help you reach the recommended one to two cups of fruit a day for optimal health. So, look for dried fruits as a delicious way to get your daily dose of fruits, and check out my top 4 tips for powering up on dried fruits.
Top 4 Tips for Powering Up on Dried Fruits
1. Top Your Cereal. Add the flavor and nutrition power of dried fruits to your favorite cereal recipes, such as oats, porridge bowls, and whole grain cold cereal. This strategy can boost natural sweetness, thus reducing added sugar. Plus it’s easy—no peeling or chopping required.
2. Toss Dried Fruits into Your Salads. Nothing quite matches the naturally sweet flavor and crunchy texture of dried fruits in your salads. Numerous forms of dried fruits complement green, grain, fruit, and vegetable salads, such as dried apricots, dates, cranberries, prunes, and raisins.
3. Sweeten Up Your Desserts. Don’t forget to lend a healthy sweet touch to your desserts, compliments of dried fruits. They are excellent added to cookies, compotes, crumbles, pies, and cakes. Pack in a serving of fruit, and cut down on sugar intake by stirring in dried fruits.
4. Snack on Dried Fruits. A handful of dried fruits is one of your best options for a healthful snack, such as this hand-made trail mix recipe (featured in the image above and the video here). They are shelf-stable, hardy (they won’t get squashed in your bag!), and easy to pack along everywhere.
For other recipes featuring dried fruits, try some of my favorites: