Food and Nutrition: When life gives you a fruit gift basket, make apple pie

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By: Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross

Photo Supplied by Metro Newspaper Service

This season, many of your friends and family are trying to be kind and help you with your health by giving you a holiday fruit basket.

We have all given and received these baskets, sometimes they are small and sometimes large, but they are always pretty and have a lot of eye appeal. The fruit is good for us and is a healthy choice, but we all can guess that the fruit is rarely chosen first.

In this column, I want to encourage you to make the most of the fruit in your basket. A reminder from ChooseMyPlate.gov is that half your plate should be fruits and vegetables. From my experiences with healthy eating, you have to work at this for it to happen; holiday eating makes it more challenging. Plan to use the fruit as a part of your healthy eating.

BREAKFAST

Start with breakfast, eating fruit is better than drinking juice — as you get the fiber from the fruit itself — especially when you eat the peel from apples and pears. You could eat the fruit as-is or make a fruit salad. Before the fruit salad, think about making fruit kabobs: make sure to juice the fruit before putting in on the wooden skewer!

FRUIT SALADS

Fruit salads are one of the easiest items to prepare. You can use all the fresh fruit from the basket. Simply rinse, dry and cut in bite-size pieces. When cutting fruits that tend to darken, such as apples, pears and bananas, make sure to toss the fruits with lemon, orange or pineapple juice. You can then add fresh sliced strawberries, whole raspberries, frozen or fresh blueberries, and fresh or canned pineapple. This is tasty as-is, or you can add some plain or flavored yogurt to the fruit. Having some granola for a topping adds some crunch. If you have stemmed glasses these are fun to serve the fruit in.

ORANGES

If there are oranges in the basket, you can encourage your family to eat them by peeling them in advance. You can also have the citrus peeler located near the oranges or grapefruit; peelers come in all sizes and shapes. You may consider use your zesting tool and remove all the great orange color and flavor from the rind. Adding orange segments to a fresh green salad pairs well when preparing poultry and fish. You can also make an orange sauce with the fruit and then drizzle over roasted meat.

APPLES

If the apples are crisp they are great eaten as is. You can cut them up and serve them with a dip, such as caramel, peanut butter or a flavored cream cheese. You could also create a fondue with chocolate or caramel. Apples can be used in many types of salads like Waldorf. You make apple dumplings, apple pie, apple crisp or baked apples. Try adding orange juice concentrate to the baked apples — so tasty!

When the fruit basket arrives, begin planning how you and your family can enjoy all that great tasting fruit. Enjoy!

For more recipes and tips from Purdue Extension Educator Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross, subscribe to the Food & Nutrition email newsletter.
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