Feed Your Sweet Tooth on Fruit

You know the drill: for optimal health you’re supposed to get four or five servings of fruit a day. Stop snacking on cookies, and make your diet fruitful by learning to turn fruits into treats.

Make it a Rule

Every breakfast includes a piece of fruit. It’s the perfect morning food, filled with natural, complex sugars for slow-release energy, fiber, and nutrients galore. Cantaloupe, an orange, berries-all are perfect with whole wheat toast, cereal, or an egg.

Fruit for Dessert

A slice of watermelon, a peach, a bowl of blueberries-they’re the perfect ending to a meal, and are so much healthier than cookies or cake. Like your desserts fancier? How does chocolate-covered strawberries, poached pears in red wine, peach and blueberry crisp, or frozen fresh raspberry yogurt sound? They count too.

Substitute Fruit Sorbet for Ice Cream

One scoop (1⁄4 cup) contains up to one serving of fruit. To whip up your own, try freezing peaches packed in their own juice for 24 hours, then submerge the can in hot water for one minute. Cut the fruit into chunks and puree until smooth.

Get it in Bar Form

Substitute frozen fruit bars for ice cream. Buy pure-fruit versions that don’t add extra corn syrup or sugar. Feel free to have one every single day.

Keep it by Your Side

Keep a fruit bowl filled wherever you spend the most time. This could be at work, near your home computer, or even in the television room. And keep five to eight pieces of fresh fruit in it at all times, such as bananas, oranges, apples, grapes, or plums. Most fruit is fine left at room temperature for three or four days. If it’s out and staring at you, it’s not likely to last that long. A piece of fruit makes a perfect snack-as often as four times per day.

Go for Dried  

Dried fruits are very portable and have a long shelf life. Take them to work, on shopping trips, or even on vacation. Raisins and prunes are classic choices. Also try dried cranberries and blueberries, which are extremely high in phytonutrients, or dried apricots, which are chock-full of beta-carotene. Other options include dates, figs, dried peaches, dried pears, and dried bananas.

Sneak Fruit In

Substitute prune puree for oil in baking. This works particularly well for brownies. You can also try applesauce.

Sprinkle on Salad

Mix fruits in with your salad. A sprinkle of raisins, some cut-up strawberries, a diced apple, or some sliced kiwi all make great additions to the typical tossed salad.

Satisfy Your Sweet-Tooth

Every time you want a candy bar, have a small box of raisins instead. Raisins are sweet and healthy, and small boxes are just the right amount to fulfill a yen for a sweet treat.

Put in Pancakes

Add fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and bananas to pancake or waffle batter. Or dice over frozen pancakes or waffles.

Blend into Bread

Get your fruit in bread and cake once a week. How about applesauce cake, banana bread, strawberry, apple, or blueberry pie? Pineapple upside-down cake, anyone?

Spice Up Your Salsa

Liven up store-bought salsas with fruit. Or make your own fruit-based salsas with pineapple, mango, or papayas. Mix with onions, ginger, a bit of garlic, some mint and/or cilantro, sprinkle on a few hot pepper flakes for fire, and chill.

Get Creative

Keep cut-up melon in a container in the fridge. Use as a first course before dinner; wrap with prosciutto for an appetizer; mix with cottage cheese for breakfast; have a small bowl for a snack; even consider pureeing for a quick sauce over fish.

Spread it On

Use all-fruit jam on toast, bagels, waffles, or other breakfast foods. You can also mix it into nonfat cottage cheese or yogurt, or melt it in the microwave and use in place of syrup on pancakes and ice cream.