All Entries For fruits

Why Fruits & Vegetables Are So Good for You


The 2010 U.S. dietary guidelines recommend that all Americans eat more fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. Government guidelines aside, you surely grew up with your mom telling you to eat your vegetables. Or maybe you even hear it now from your doctor.  
 
When you're new to adopting a healthy diet, you may wonder: What's so good about fruits and vegetables anyway? What kind of benefits will I see if I eat more?  Here are four good reasons to be like Bugs Bunny and chomp away on more fresh produce.
Posted 3/9/2014  12:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 2 comments   9,099 views
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How to Make Dried Fruit (Using Your Oven)


It's summer, and that means fruit trees, bushes, and berry plants are exploding with a bountiful harvest.  A healthy goal is to eat a variety of these local and fresh fruits.  
 
If we fast forward to fall, the taste of sweet, juicy strawberries are all but gone.  Never fear!  With local produce at its peak, think like the animals--harvest and store for winter.   
 
When it comes to fruit, you have three options: can, freeze, or dry.
 
Today I'm going to teach you how to turn summer's freshest fruit into a snack you can enjoy year-round. It's like nature's candy, and it requires no special equipment.
 
While you could use a dehydrator or old-fashioned drying cabinet, you don't need one. All you need is an oven, parchment paper or silicone liners and sheet pans or pizza screens if you have them. 
Posted 6/20/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 72 comments   195,535 views
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10 Super Berry Smoothie Recipes


For my family, spring signals the beginning of little league baseball and a renewed level of busyness that makes staying on top of nutrition a bit of a challenge. Recently, I've been using berries, another spring/summer favorite, to keep my kids fueled up. Using a simple blender, I can have a tasty treat whipped up in minutes that includes many greens that my kids wouldn't normally eat. 
 
Berries are sweet, but also contain a boost of disease-fighting antioxidants, fiber and vitamins. It's fun to hear my kids ask for a second glass, especially when I know it's loaded with spinach, kale, or chia or flax seed to add fiber, protein and healthy omega fats. I make it a goal to get at least three servings of fruits and vegetable in each smoothie I make.
 
When I see deal on berries, I buy double what I need and put half in the freezer. Then I can just pull out what I need, whenever I need it, and clean up is easy too: just pop the blender parts in your dish washer or hand clean with hot soapy water. Fuel yourself with berries and other great smoothies by trying these SparkRecipes. 
Posted 5/9/2013  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 45 comments   584,646 views
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How Much Sugar is in Your Favorite Fruit?


Fresh fruit boasts a high amount of fiber, water, and a slew of other vitamins and minerals--but it can also come with a good amount of sugar. Even though fruit contains only natural sugars and is a healthy choice in moderation, it's a good idea to watch how much sugar you're taking in regardless of where it comes from. Have you ever wondered just how much of the sweet stuff is found in nature's candy? If you were to choose the fruit with the least amount of naturally-occurring sugar, which would be your best bet: Bananas, apples, or oranges?
Posted 2/16/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 66 comments   181,585 views
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A Better Way to Get Vitamin C (Besides Orange Juice!)


With cold and flu season in full swing, most of us are trying to do all we can to avoid catching one of the nasty viruses floating around. Some swear by vitamin C-rich orange juice for warding off disease. Although the evidence about vitamin C's illness-fighting powers is conflicting, there's no doubt that it's still a good nutrient to consume. Since the body does not produce vitamin C, you must obtain it from outside sources to create and repair skin cells and fight off the effects of damaging free radicals. If you eat your veggies, though, it's not hard to reach your daily quota, since all fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C to some degree. That's right; orange juice isn't your only option for getting this important nutrient! Which type of produce will deliver the highest amount of vitamin C per serving: Red bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi, or oranges?
Posted 1/19/2013  6:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 50 comments   39,170 views
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Could Peaches, Cherries, and Plums Fight Obesity and Diabetes?


Metabolic syndrome has become increasingly common in the United States and paves the way toward obesity and heart disease for millions of people every year. Since these are two of the most common chronic diseases today, making lifestyle modifications are important especially changes in diet and exercise.
 
A new study found that stone fruits known as drupes contain compounds that could reduce serious health risks from obesity and inflammation found with metabolic syndrome. Since insulin resistance or diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol abnormalities and abdominal obesity affect millions of people every year, this could be a very important finding. Although lifestyle, genetic predisposition, and diet play an influential role, research findings suggesting diet can be turned into an asset instead of liability provides some hope for those seeking to change their medical condition outcomes.
 
While it is great that stone fruits can help us reach health goals, they only help if we include them in our diets. 
Posted 8/13/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 40 comments   21,409 views
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12 Healthy Blackberry Recipes


Picking blackberries is one of my all time favorite summer activities. It was my fresh blackberry pie that won my husband's heart when we were first dating. Fortunately for him, we bought a house that has blackberries growing abundantly in our back yard. I love harvesting them with my kids on warm summer afternoons. 

Blackberries are rich in antioxidants and are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin K,  manganese  vitamin E, folate, potassium and copper. They are also are great as snacks or can serve as an exotic new ingredient in your regular cooking regimen. I’ve gathered our top blackberry SparkRecipes to help you get started. 
Posted 6/6/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 23 comments   42,665 views
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Food Showdown: Which Berry is Higher in Antioxidants?


By now, you've probably heard about antioxidants, the wonder molecules that may help prevent cancer and other chronic diseases. In recent years, many exotic, antioxidant-rich foods like goji berries, mangosteen, and acai have cropped up in the media and have sparked a lot of conversation. However, there hasn't been significant research to back up the hype for these foods, and it's easy for advertisers to make false claims and charge an exorbitant amount of money for them.

Instead of shelling out mega bucks for these crazy fruits and supplements, why not stick to what you know? After all, you can find an abundance of antioxidant-rich foods right in the produce section of your grocery store—without the sky-high prices or unfounded claims.

We know that berries are good for you, but are some better than others when it comes to antioxidant content? If you had to choose between common blueberries and blackberries, both touted as vitamin-rich cancer-fighters, which one would you guess has the highest antioxidant content?
Posted 6/2/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 20 comments   31,864 views
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Fresh vs. Frozen: Dos and Don'ts of Saving for the Off-Season


One of the earliest lessons my parents taught me was to eat what's in season.  Being from a farm family, you quickly learn that if food is not harvested at its peak it either goes rotten in the field or becomes a meal for birds, insects, or the Earth.   
 
That's why we eat fruits and vegetables fresh when they are in season.   That means you'll eat your weight in asparagus in May, strawberries in June, pepper and corn in July, and tomatoes in August. 

After eating tomatoes every day for a month, you might be tired of them in late summer, but don't you long for them during the cold winter months? 
 
But wait, you can still enjoy the harvest if you follow the rules that mother Nature gives to the animals:  pack away some of your harvest for the off season.  You don't have to be a farmer's daughter to enjoy the bounty of the harvest.  Check out your farmers market or even your local grocery store during peak growing months and purchase good quality fruits and vegetables then have a freezing party at your home.  If you are too busy to freeze peak fruits and vegetables at home, no worries. You can find good quality frozen fruits and vegetables at your local market. 
Posted 4/16/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 15 comments   9,800 views
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2 Great Sweet and Savory Grapefruit Recipes


February is national grapefruit month--perfect timing since citrus fruit is in season during the cold winter months! Let's celebrate!
 
Have you ever wondered why a grapefruit is called a "grape" fruit?  Yes, it's a fruit, but it's so much bigger than a grape.  It all goes back to the land and the growers.  When the fruit is at its peak and ready to be picked from the tree it tends to hang out together like a cluster of grapes, hence grapefruit.
 
Grapefruits are one of the power houses within the tropical fruit family.   They are actually a natural cross-fertilization of a pomelo and a sweet orange.  Pomelos are more pear shaped and larger.  Grapefruits can be found with yellow, pink or red pulp, but I reach for the sweeter, red-pulp ("ruby") variety when I want to peel it and eat it just like an orange and the yellow pulp variety when I am going to bake it topped with honey and chopped pistachios.  
Posted 2/28/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 10 comments   6,486 views
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Food Showdown: Banana Chips vs. Chocolate Raisins


Editor's Note: We are excited to announce that SparkPeople's popular "Food Showdown" feature now has a new home here on the dailySpark! Every Saturday, we will be posting a different round of food duos to battle it out in a survival of the healthiest.Try to guess which food is the best choice and check after the jump to see if you picked the victor! Be sure to let us know what you think of Food Showdown, and to share your ideas for future food comparisons in the comments section below. Happy reading!

People will add all kinds of things to fruits and veggies to disguise their natural flavors and make them more appealing. Canned fruits stew in corn syrup, dried fruits are covered in sugar, and these two popular snacks are no exception. Banana chips. They look healthy and aren't super sweet--basically fruit, right? What about chocolate-covered raisins? Raisins are nutritious and chocolate can be healthy in moderation, but how are they together? One of these snacks is masquerading as healthier than it is.

Can you pick the low-fat winner?
Posted 2/11/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 40 comments   20,008 views
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12 Fresh Cranberry Recipes


Have you noticed bags of beautiful red berries in the produce department of your local grocery store? Did you know that those are fresh cranberries, a great food to add to your diet? According to The George Mateljan Foundation for The World's Healthiest Foods, cranberries are high in antioxidants and phytonutrients that provide anit-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits. One cup of fresh cranberries has 5 grams of fiber, 90 mg of potassium and 25% of the Daily Value for vitamin C according to the SparkPeople Nutritional Tracker
 
Incorporating cranberries into your cooking is easier than you might think. Use a food processor to chop them into small pieces and pop them in the freezer. There is no need to defrost them before you cook. Cranberries add a nice tartness to your favorite salad, side dish, or sweeten a main course with cranberry relish. If you can’t find fresh cranberries, dried cranberries are a great substitute and are available year around. Dried cranberries can be used in place or raisins or nuts in any recipe. Make sure you use dried cranberries in moderation as a single serving has 123 calories and 26g of sugar.

I’ve gathered some of my favorite cranberry recipes from SparkRecipes for your health and enjoyment. Ditch the canned processed cranberry sauce and cut the calories and sugar by using fresh cranberries in your cooking this holiday season. 
Posted 12/7/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 10 comments   30,282 views
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14 Pear Recipes


Pears are a great way to make a common dish unique. Their buttery texture makes them a perfect candidate for sweet and savory dishes alike. They are also a great source of Potassium, Vitamin C and Fiber. As an added benefit, the natural sugars present in pears allow you to satisfy your sweet tooth while steering clear of processed sugar. Read "Tips for Buying and Storing Pears" for more information. Here are some of my favorite SparkRecipes that use pears. 
Posted 11/17/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Samantha Donohue : 8 comments   10,177 views
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WATERMELON: Nature’s Sweet Summer Treat


Watermelon is a staple on nearly every summer table, but did you know that it’s also a powerful and versatile health food: it has less than 50 calories per serving; it is an abundant source of vitamins C, A, and B6; plus, its 90% water, which makes it both refreshing and a natural source of hydration. Use the following ten recipes to spice up your cooking, get healthy, and wow your guests with this sweet summer treat.



Watermelon Strawberry Smoothie


Watermelon Blueberry Banana Split

Spicy Watermelon Marinade

Watermelon and Blueberry Salad with Spinach and Feta
Posted 7/20/2011  6:00:00 AM By: Samantha Donohue : 20 comments   10,070 views
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Tips for Washing Fresh Fruits and Vegetables




My aunt and uncle have a farm with a garden, and many fruit trees and bushes. They enjoy vegetables as well as fresh picked apples or pears and berries right off the bush. While it takes work, they enjoy their nutrient-rich bounty throughout the year.



Even with so many fresh, organically grown choices, they still purchase items from the dirty dozen list from time to time. Since it is important to wash all fresh produce whether conventionally or organically grown regardless if it comes from the "dirty" list or the Clean 15, it is important to know the most effective way.



Posted 6/20/2011  6:00:00 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 36 comments   26,244 views
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