Incorporating colorful fruit into dinner plans and recipes adds moisture, flavor and natural sweetness to help lower the need for added sugar.
Stroll through a summer farmers market or the produce section of a grocery store and notice how your eyes are drawn to the colorful, seasonal fruits. Laying eyes on those red, ripe strawberries, dark purple blueberries, and sunny orange peaches almost makes one want to sneak a bite and savor its fruity sweetness.
Colorful ingredients add eye appeal with an added bonus of many beneficial nutrients being packed into those vibrant shades. Foods that are rich in vitamin C and other essential vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory properties have also been found to greatly support brain function and reduce cognitive decline.
From a cooking standpoint, fruit is quite a versatile ingredient. It can be served raw or cooked in both sweet and savory dishes. We naturally crave a combination of savory and sweet in our meals – think about that urge for a bite of something sweet after a luscious, savory meal. By consciously adding colorful fruits into our dinner plans and recipes, we add moisture, flavor, and a natural sweetness that tantalizes the tastebuds and helps lower the need for added sugar.
Selection and Storage Tips
For the best flavor, quality, and nutritional value, I recommend selecting fresh or frozen fruit.
- Choose fresh fruit that is brightly colored, fragrant, and free of signs of decay.
- Store fresh fruit at room temperature, in a cool, dry place or in the refrigerator if ripening too quickly.
- Wash fresh fruit and gently pat dry just before using to reduce the chance of molding.
- Frozen fruit should be stored in the freezer until ready to use. It is best thawed and drained before use in baking, but may be used frozen in certain recipes.
Depending on the use, canned fruit can be a good option.
- Look for fruit packed in water, or in its own juice. Check for added sugar.
- Canned fruit can be stored in a pantry or other cool, dry place. Drain well, and consider rinsing under cold water, before using to remove some of the sugar or canning additives.
16 delicious and highly nutritious fruits to incorporate into your dinner plans
- bell pepper, especially red or orange
- berries, especially blueberries
- citrus, especially oranges
DINNER PLANNING IDEAS
This month’s dinner planning ideas highlight lighter, flavorful summer fare that incorporates health and brain-boosting fruits. Enjoy!
Grilled Salmon + Avocado Lettuce Wraps with Green Goddess Sauce
These wraps have health and brain-boosting written all over them! They are not only delicious and satisfying but are also good fuel for our bodies. The Green Goddess sauce adds a creamy, herbaceous flavor that truly compliments and finishes the dish.
- Serve with fresh fruit and/or a slice of whole-grain bread on the side.
- Health- and brain-boosting ingredients featured in this meal – leafy greens, salmon, avocado, onion, red bell pepper, pumpkin seeds, herbs, garlic, yogurt, olive oil, anchovy paste or coconut aminos
Chicken-Watermelon-Blueberry Entrée Salad
Take your summer dinner to the next level with this cool, refreshing, health and brain-boosting salad. The combination of sweet (blueberries, watermelon) and savory (feta cheese, grilled chicken) creates a fun and deeply satisfying flavor explosion for your tastebuds.
- Serve with corn muffins or artisan whole-grain bread.
- Health- and brain-boosting ingredients featured in this meal – watermelon, blueberries, kiwi, nuts, leafy greens, olive oil
Pasta with Basic Marinara Sauce
For those nights when only a plate of your favorite pasta will do, top it with this simple but flavorful marinara sauce. Add a lean protein if you like, or savor this delicious sauce as is.
The recipe calls for canned crushed tomatoes, however, if you have fresh, homegrown available, they make a wonderful, fresher-tasting sauce. Cut out the core, squeeze out the seeds, and run the tomatoes through the food processor before cooking them down into the sauce.
- Serve with a tossed green salad.
- Health- and brain-boosting ingredients featured in this meal – tomatoes, garlic, onions, herbs, olive oil
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Main photo: Getty Images
Dinner Planning photos: Love + Craft Kitchen, and Getty Images