Archive | Fruit RSS feed for this section

California Avocados: All Day for 7 Days

10 Jun

California Avocados: All Day for 7 Days

June is California Avocado Month!

As a nutrition spokesperson for California Avocado Commission for the past 5 years, it’s safe to say I am a pretty big avocado fan.

This is the best time of year for California Avocados, which are in season from spring through fall. California grows about 90% of the nation’s avocado crop and they do it with the help of approximately 5,000 small family farms located throughout the state.

Our avocados are top notch because the growers put so much care into how the trees are nurtured, planted and harvested. California avocados are picked at the peak of freshness, so you know you’re getting quality fruit when you see that California label!

When it comes to nutrition, avocados are one of the few things I feel comfortable labeling a superfood…because:

  • California avocados are a nutrient-dense: one-fifth of a medium avocado (1 oz) has 50 calories and contributes nearly 20 vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds
  • California avocados contribute good fats to your diet – this is key since the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 focus on fats is now about what types and not how much you get

This season I created a 7-day meal plan using some of the amazing recipes from the California Avocado Commission. If you think avocados are just for guacamole, you have to check out some of these innovative meal and snack ideas.

It’s pretty safe to say you probably need more avocado in your life – and this 7 day meal plan has it all…if I do say so myself!

For more information about avocados, nutrition and the Dietary Guidelines, check out The Scoop blog post by friend and fellow dietitian Andrea available here.

To see my 7-day plant based meal plan featuring LOADS of California Avocados, see below or click here.

CAC 7 Day Meal Plan FINAL APPROVED 5-12-16

Disclaimer: I am a paid nutrition spokesperson for the California Avocado Commission; however, the views and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.

Bananas in a Bag: Freeze-Dried Crispy Fruit

9 Dec

Bananas in a Bag: Freeze-Dried Crispy Fruit

Fiber fans know, fruit is a great go-to snack. Whole, intact fruit is a nice option for naturally occurring fiber packed with vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

But when plain old fresh fruit won’t duo, there’s a whole slew of packaged and processed fruit snacks available to today’s consumer. The problem is, most fruit snacks are packed with added sugar, stripped of fiber, and in their finished form they end up hardly resembling anything even remotely close to fruit.

But there’s a better fruit snack out there: Crispy Fruit from Crispy Green. Thanks to samples provided by Crispy Fruit’s PR company, I was recently able to try the freeze dried crispy bananas.

Crispy bananas have one ingredient: bananas. And not surprisingly, they taste like…bananas. If you’ve ever had astronaut ice cream, the crispy fruit has a similar texture. It’s a tad on the chalky side, but that’s what you get when you remove all of the water from a high water-content food group like fruit.

For the ultimate in taste-tester feedback, I tried the crispy bananas out on my one-year-old daughter, aka the Banana Bandit.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 9.59.18 AM

This girl can put down a whole banana in no time flat, so I appreciated that the crispy bananas kept her entertained for a bit longer than the full fruit. She can’t talk yet, but I’m pretty sure she liked those crispy bananas, since she polished off the whole bag….and tried to eat the bag too.

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 10.00.46 AM

The crispy bananas come packaged with 6 individual serving bags, which would make a great addition for school lunch or snacks on the go. Each individual serving bag contains 1/2 cup of bananas (about 1/2 of a whole medium-sized banana), as well as:

  • 55 calories
  • 13 g carbohydrate
  • 2 g dietary fiber
  • 1 g protein

There’s no added preservatives and (as one would hope if just eating bananas) the snacks are gluten free, dairy free, vegan, peanut and tree-nut free and kosher. They are also non-GMO project verified.

Crispy Green’s 7 Crispy Fruit flavors have all undergone a freeze-drying process to remove water and sterilize the product:

 

Freeze-Dry-Process_Final

 

You can pick up crispy fruit at your local retailer (store finder here) or purchase online directly from Crispy Green.

Disclosure: I was provided with free samples of Crispy Fruit for this post; thoughts and opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

Juiceology: Not Doing Much for the Fiber Gap

1 Dec

Juiceology: Not Doing Much for the Fiber Gap

As any fiber fan knows, eating your fruit is far superior to drinking it.

The problem with juices are that they extract and discard the most important parts of the fruit: the pulp and peel – which is exactly where the fiber is found.

In an article posted today at Food Navigator, the CEO and founder of Juiceology Gelipe d’Avila explains his angle in trying to fill the “white space” in the juice category…fiber:

“The challenge is that many consumers know they should get more [fiber], but they see fiber as a boring thing, so we have to market the benefits without lecturing people about it. We have to make it fun.”

Fiber…boring?! I beg to differ!

If you want fun and fiber together, why don’t you just eat fruit?

A 15.2 oz bottle of Juiceology has 200 calories and provides 32% daily value for fiber (8g). The only problem is, that’s not naturally occurring fiber. According to d’Avila, the fiber comes from oats and barley and chicory root.

But guess what, oats and barley and chicory root are not naturally found in fruit. And there is no evidence to suggest that these fake functional fibers – when added to low-fiber foods like juice – convey the same health benefits as foods that naturally have fiber in them.

According to Food Navigator, you have to shell out between $2.99-$3.49 for a 200 calorie bottle of juice. Why not just eat 2 pieces of real fruit for a fraction of the cost? You would save about 100 calories and get those 8 grams of fiber from a naturally occurring source.

And don’t look to the Juiceology website for any real nutrition nuts either. It’s packed with broken links, misleading copy and typos, like “The Original Fiber Boost” and “Non GMO daily Welness”

Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 9.16.59 PM

Bottom line: if you want the benefits of fruit, save yourself some cash and eat real fruit!

 

Is An Apple a Day Overdoing It?

22 Sep

Is An Apple a Day Overdoing It?

When it comes to fiber, fruit is your friend. Fruit generally has 3 or more grams of fiber per serving – not to mention it comes bundled with a bevy of other important nutrients.

But are we under sampling seasonal offerings of fruits? According to a study recently published in Pediatrics, American kids are agog for apples…and that’s about it.

Apples account for 20% of all fruit consumed by US kids and young people. If you pair that with apple juice, the number rises to 30%.

Not that anything is wrong with apples – but only 40% of US kids meet the USDA recommendations for 1-2 cups of fruit per day.

Could it be that a lack of variety is lessening our ability to meet fruit intake recommendations? If so, here are a few tips for firming up your fruit findings:

  • Check out seasonal availability of produce calendars like this one from CUESA.org
  • Explore what constitutes a serving of fruit at ChooseMyPlate.gov and add 1-2 new options per week to your routine
  • Eat the rainbow: make a concerted effort to add more colorful fruits (and vegetables) to grace your plate
  • If you have kids or feed kids, set a snacking example by making fruit your go-to snack, aiming for 2-3 serving of fresh fruit between meals if you’re not getting that at meal time
  • Eat your fruit, don’t drink it: whole, intact fruit is your best bet for fiber and calorie control; watch out for dried fruits that can have added sugar and high calorie juices without the fiber benefits.

To find out how many servings of fruit per day you should be consuming based on your age and gender, check out ChooseMyPlate.gov’s “Daily Fruit Chart” in the All About the Fruit Group page.

And if you’re fearful of fruit…forget that! Americans are often misguided about fruit – although fruit does have sugar (naturally occurring fruit sugar called fructose), it’s a great, low calorie source of other vitamins, minerals and fibers – making fruit definitely worth your while.

How to Drown Your Pomegranate Problems

15 Sep

How to Drown Your Pomegranate Problems

Fall is about to befall us, meaning that pomegranates are coming into peak season.

Pomegranates (Punica granatam) are a fruit-bearing shrub native to the area from Iran to the Himalayas. According to California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc., the fruit was first introduced in California by Spanish settlers in 1769. In the northern hemisphere we find pomegranates in peak season from September-January.

Like most fruit fans, I’m taken by how pretty pomegranates are. Their rich red arils (the brightly colored cover of a seed) augment any fall salad and make a colorful confection…but that same hearty hue will also stain the crap out of your clothes!

For a long time I was content to buy pomegranates already removed from the fruit’s inedible pulp. The convenience was a plus, but as a cost-conscious consumer, pre-prepared fruit is rarely worth the cost.

So I was pretty pumped when I heard about the best pomegranate preparation trick ever: the secret underwater pomegranate plucking.

All you have to do to get at that juicy goodness without the ensuing mess is:

  • Quarter or halve your pomegranate fruit
  • Fill a bowl with water
  • Submerge the quarter or half of fruit
  • Dig the arils out of the pulp under the water using your fingers

Voilà! You’ve got your own pack of pomegranate seeds at a fraction of the cost. The pulp and the mess stays submerged and you emerge with this fabulous fruit.

For not much work, pomegranates pack a nutritional punch. A one-half cup of arils pomegranate serving provides 72 calories and 3.5 grams of fiber and is a good source of vitamin C (14% daily value).

Like all fruit – you’re better served to eat your pomegranates than drink them. Don’t waste your time on pomegranate juice. Most commercial pomegranate “juice” contains more apple juice than actual pomegranates, not to mention that you forfeit the fiber when you extract its juice.

For a super fast supper feast, try out this pomegranate kale salad recipe:

Pomegranate Kale Salad

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 8 cups chopped baby kale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup pomegranate arils (about 2 pomegranates)
  • 1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons goat cheese crumbles
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In salad serving bowl, massage chopped baby kale with 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 30 seconds.
  2. Add pomegranate arils, diced cucumber and goat cheese crumbles to kale.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk remaining olive oil with pomegranate vinegar, dijon mustard and citrus juice.
  4. Add dressing to salad, season with salt and pepper and serve

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 275
  • Protein 10 g
  • Carbohydrate 39 g
  • Fat 12 g
  • Saturated Fat 2.5 g
  • Fiber 11 g