Hello again! It's another week and so another look into my pantry staples. Today I'm giving you insight into one of my faaaavorite go-to's - fruits! I seriously love fruit. I have to give myself a limit before walking into the store or else I will get over zealous and buy too much! I think most of my friends out there can attest to how much I am a fan. Growing up I always had fruit in my lunches and mom would always slice fresh fruit and leave it on the counter for me and my friends. During college it was always present in the fridge, whether dorm life or our super fun house. Today I always have two or three varieties in my fridge, freezer or on the counter ready to throw into dishes when cooking or to grab as a snack as I head out the door.
Now, I know why I have fruits in MY kitchen- but why should YOU have fruits in yours? What can you do with them? When pressed for time, which ones can you quickly grab and know that, while you don't have a plan in mind yet, the fruits you choose will still get used at some point that week?
There are many ways you can think through this, but I thought I would start off with a little insight into my thinking and how I come up with my list for the week.
First I do a quick survey of my week, asking myself a number of questions...
- What will my schedule be like this week?
- How many days will I need to bring a lunch?
- How many nights will I be cooking my own dinner?
- Do I have any breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings?
- What, if any, fruits do I already have in my pantry / fridge / freezer?
Then, once I have determined the answers to those, I ask...
- What do I have in my pantry for breakfast? Will I want to pair fruit with it?
- Is there any meal I want to make this week that includes fruit in it (for example, my cherry nut butter bars, a turkey, pear, and brie panini, a salad with sweet juicy sliced strawberries, or a chicken salad that incorporates plump red seedless grapes)?
- How many lunches will I be bringing this week? I always like including a fruit with lunch.
And when answering these questions I also keep the current season in mind. Is it June at a time when those summer berries are at their sweetest and juciest? Or is it November when those fall fruits like apples and pears are at their prime?
These are questions that can be asked as you sit and create your grocery list or as you're walking into the store. Whether I have had some time to meal plan or I'm simply maximizing the 20 minutes I have between meetings, errands, planning, and, of course, fun things one or more of the following fruits usually makes it into my grocery cart.
SO, here is this week's Taylored Pantry Top 10 - FRUITS. I hope it gives you info and ideas to simplify your shopping this coming week and this year!
Oh - and please leave a comment if you have great ideas using any of these or other fruits. I would love to hear about them and am always looking for new ideas!
TAYLORED PANTRY TOP TEN: FRUITS
Benefits of Fruits: Fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, many of these acting as antioxidants. Fruits are typically high in vitamin C, can be great sources of carotenoids like beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene (help support healthy eyes and vision and can be converted to vitamin A in the body), and potassium just to name a few fantastic nutritional benefits. PLUS, did you realize that fruits are another way we can increase our fluid intake?! Fruits are about 90% water and so can add to our hydration plan - definitely something to consider for athletes out there who have trouble getting enough fluids throughout the day.
- Uses: snacks on their own | top cold or hot cereal or yogurt | slice onto peanut butter toast | use in breads when baking to add moisture when removing butter and high fat ingredients | spread with nut or seed butter for a simple snack | create a sweet snack by topping a vanilla wafer with peanut butter and a banana slice | freeze and use later for smoothies | great nutritious way to thicken smoothies & desserts.
- To Know: High in potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber | potassium can help manage blood pressure and proper nerve & muscle communication. It can also reduce the risk of bone loss as we age | vitamin C promotes healthy joints, skin, hair & a healthy immune system by helping the body build collagen & protecting against infection & cell damage | vitamin B6 helps the body maintain a steady metabolism, produce energy, and fight disease & infection.
- Uses: snacks on their own | cheese & grape skewers | add to spinach salads | add to chicken salads | roast them | freeze them for frozen bite - size treats.
- To Know: high in fiber, water & anthocyanins | anthocyanins are compounds with antioxidant properties that may help reduce one's risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive decline (find more info on anthocyanins in Today's Dietitian: http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/030314p20.shtml).
- FROZEN BLUEBERRIES
- Uses: Topping to ice cream or frozen yogurt | add to baked crumbles | mix into warm oatmeal topped with cinnamon and a dab of honey | mix into plain or vanilla yogurt & top with granola for a breakfast parfait (the blueberries melt into the yogurt & disperse the blueberry juice goodness throughout the yogurt, mmm) | throw into pancake or waffle batter for Saturday blueberry pancakes or waffles | throw into breakfast breads and muffins | throw into a smoothie.
- To Know: excellent source of fiber, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium & folate | fiber helps keep you full, promotes a healthy GI system and can help lower cholesterol | vitamin A helps build a strong immune system, is critical to good vision, and is important for healthy functioning organs like the heart, lungs, and kidneys | folate is important for cell division, the assembly of DNA and other genetic material and it helps prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy.
- Uses: Snack on their own | slice and dip in peanut butter or serve with cheese slices | slice and top salads | dice & incorporate into chicken salads | cut in half, peel & core, fill with cinnamon, raisins, brown sugar and a smidgen of butter and bake in the oven for a heavenly dessert | add to rolled oats when cooking oatmeal over the stove and let simmer with the oats as they cook | sauté in the skillet with some cinnamon & lemon juice and top peanut butter toast (my own recipe coming soon!).
- To Know: great sources of vitamin C and fiber.
- PEARS OR PEACHES
- Uses: Eat on their own | top salads (grilled or fresh) | top cold or hot cereal | blend pears into a delicious salad dressing (another recipe coming to the blog soon!), bake or caramelize in a skillet and top with ice cream or frozen yogurt | add sliced pears to sandwiches and grilled paninis.
- To Know: I say "or" here because pears are a fall / winter fruit and peaches are a summer fruit. Therefore, peaches are my go - to's in the summer months while pears are my go-to's in the fall and winter months | Pears are good sources of fluid, fiber, vitamin C, and contain some potassium!
- GRAPE TOMATOES
- Uses: serve with hummus or other dip for a simple snack | roast in the oven for about 8 minutes until bursting and add to pastas, stir fries, pizzas, toast, you name it! I will roast these at the beginning of the week and use them in anything I can throughout the week! | add to cottage cheese for a protein and nutrient - packed snack | slice and combine with cubed fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and drizzles of good extra virgin olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar for a wonderful Caprese salad | Add to salads & sandwiches.
- To Know: The lycopene content of tomatoes becomes more available to the body when cooked! So go ahead and roast those tomatoes! Ellie Krieger (one of my FAVORITE RD's and chefs) has an interesting article on tomato facts that you can find here .
- DRIED FIGS OR APPLE RINGS
- Uses: one of my go-to pre-run or pre-workout snacks b/c such a quick source of energy | great for car & plane snacks when traveling (no apple core to throw our or juice dripping everywhere!).
- To Know: figs are a great travel snack and a quick source of carbohydrate plus fiber, potassium, calcium, iron, & vitamin K. | iron plays a key role in oxygen transport, enabling our red blood cells to transport oxygen to all of our tissues (such as skin & muscles) | vitamin K plays an important factor in helping our blood clot.
- DRIED CHERRIES, CRANBERRIES OR RAISINS
- Uses: quick snacks before a workout | top salads | add to warm oatmeal | add to homemade granola bar mixes | throw in a baggie with cereal and some nuts for a touch of sweetness in a trail mix.
- To Know: Cherries are a great source of fiber, carbohydrate, potassium & vitamin A. On a bit of a different note, recent studies are also finding that tart cherry juice may have benefits on heart health, fighting inflammation from disease, and aiding in post - exercise recovery.
- Uses: add to homemade salad dressings | add to salads and sauces | flavor beverages | squeeze a little on diced fruit to keep from turing brown as quickly | incorporate into vegetable dishes (for example: squeezing over broccoli or asparagus after cooked) | squeeze over baked or grilled salmon or other fish | zest some of the peel into cookies, cakes or breads.
- To Know: citrus fruit full of vitamin C!
- Uses: flavor beverages | squeeze a little juice over diced avocado to keep it from turning brown | squeeze into soups like Chicken Tortilla for an added element - it's delicious!
- To Know: citrus fruit full of vitamin C!