Here's a healthy eating resolution that’s easy to do: Eat at least one piece of seasonal fruit a day. “I’m not much of a fruit person, so I tend to just skip over them,” Lia confesses. “But when I do finally bite into an apple or peel an orange, it makes me feel so grounded and good and vibrant.” I’m in the same boat. Fruit isn’t the first thing I reach for when I’m hungry, and I have to make a point of eating the stuff.
Lia and I aren’t alone in this challenge. In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a state-by-state analysis of fruit (and vegetable) consumption among American adults. When it comes to fruit, the numbers are dismal: Overall, less than a third of grown-ups eat fruit at least twice a day. Among states, just 18% of Oklahomans eat fruit twice daily while Vermonters and New Yorkers are the most consistent fruit-eaters. But even that doesn’t guarantee adequate consumption. According to the market research firm NPD Group’s Nutrient Intake Database, just 8% of Americans–of all ages–eat their recommended daily intake of fruit.
That means however much fruit you’re eating now, you probably need to eat more. How much is enough? That depends on your age, gender and activity level, and the CDC’s Fruits & Veggies More Matters website has an online calculator. Turns out, I should be nibbling at least 1-1/2 cups of fruit a day (along with 2-1/2 cups of veggies). That's a modest goal, really, when you consider that a small apple or medium pear counts as 1 cup.
Here are four simple strategies for getting more fruit into your day:
Eat in season. Fruit that’s in season tastes vibrant–and it’s affordable, too, because it’s so abundant. Eating seasonally also helps expand your fruit vocabulary. These days I’m gobbling satsuma tangerines by the flat, but I can also sample other super-seasonal citrus, like the exotic Buddha’s hand. Not sure what to with an unfamiliar fruit? Ask the farmer at the farmers’ market or the produce manager at the store for ideas. Also experiment using seasonal fruits in your favorite recipes–it’s easy to swap fruits and the flavor will be even better. The Cook’s Thesaurus is a helpful resource to research how to use different ingredients.
Keep it sweet. Put fruit front and center in desserts to satisfy a sweet tooth and boost your nutritional profile. This time of year, try Pumpkin Oat Bread with Golden Raisins and Walnuts (yes, pumpkin counts as a fruit) or substitute sliced seasonal kiwi for the strawberries in Lia’s Strawberry Cheesecake Tartlets.
Make it savory. Fruit can lend wonderful nuanced flavor to savory fare, as I was reminded when I dined recently at Ludo Bites, Chef Ludo Lefebvre’s wildly popular Los Angeles pop-up restaurant. My favorite dish was his mussels and pineapple in veloute sauce–the sweetness of the fruit added a subtle, bright note to balance the richness of the dish. Try this sweet-savory strategy in our Fennel and Granny Smith Salad with Blue Cheese or Fennel, Red Onion and Blood Orange Salad with Miso-Orange Vinaigrette. You can use different fruits in spicy salsa (swap pineapple for peach in our Fiery Sweet Peach Salsa) or in a sauce (like our Star Anise and Brown Sugar Pear Butter, below) to pair with roasted pork or chicken.
Discover the range of flavors and textures. Many of us associate fruit with sweetness, but that isn’t always the case. Consider the avocado. It’s a fruit that boasts creamy texture and mellow vegetal flavor. So if you fix a bowl of Guatemalan Guacamole, you’ll enjoy a bonus serving of fruit.