I am a firm believer in counting your fruits and vegetables. Dietitians recommend 5-9 servings a day which breaks down to 2-4 servings of fruit and 3-5 of vegetables.
It can be especially challenging to keep your fruit intake up when the snow flies—especially if you are trying to eat local or cooking on a budget. Here are some suggestions that can help you get more fruit this winter.
- Take advantage of fall/winter fruits like citrus, apples and pears. As good as frozen fruit or juice can be, sometimes nothing beats fresh fruit. Good winter choices include fall-harvested apples and pears, which will last well into the winter if properly stored, and citrus fruits which are in season in winter. These selections can help you increase variety without shipping from the southern hemisphere and are perfect for lunches or to go!
- Make semi-fresh fruit salad. Fruit salads are one of my favorite treats but I always considered them summer fare. In a desperate moment this winter, I tried mixing a few fresh fruits (mangos, pears, bananas) with thawed blueberries and strawberries (frozen last summer from my CSAs) for a terrific winter version. Delicious plain, better drizzled with fresh squeezed orange juice (which helps keep fruits from browning), and amazing with a sauce, it has become a new winter splurge.
- Add frozen fruit to smoothies or yogurt. Frozen berries are the perfect addition to smoothies or yogurt. To enhance yogurt, I put a half cup of frozen berries into a serving bowl, then cover with warm tap water. After a couple minutes, I pour off the water and add vanilla yogurt, along with nuts and granola, for a tasty and nutritious breakfast. To make smoothies, I blend frozen fruit with orange juice and yogurt. Frozen fruit is easier on the budget and makes the smoothies thick and frosty!
- Make a warm fruit crisp or cobbler. If you are feeling ambitious, a nice fruit crisp or cobbler can provide a serving of fruit without the high fat and calories of pie (since there is no bottom crust). Served warm with a scoop of ice cream or frozen yogurt, it is the perfect comfort food. For a special taste treat, try adding a tart fruit like cranberries or blackberries to a sweeter fruit like apples.
- Add dried fruit to oatmeal. Raisins, dates, dried cranberries, and dried blueberries are all delicious added to oatmeal. 1/4 cup of dried fruit equals one serving, and the sweetness can help you reduce or eliminate added sugar. For more detail see Jazzed Up Oatmeal.
- Warm up with hot mulled cider. Hot cider is delicious and warming, and the addition of mulling spices may offer extra nutritional value. Apple cider (buy unfiltered for the biggest flavor punch) is available in grocery stores from fall into winter; consider freezing your own if it is available locally. Since apples are on the EWG’s “dirty dozen” list, look for cider grown using organic or IPM (Integrated Pest Management) practices if available.
On the coldest days of winter, it may seem a long time since the harvest, but you don’t need to compromise taste or nutrition. With a few tricks up your sleeve, counting your five (or nine) a day isn’t as hard as you think—any time of the year!