Dessert is a major part of celebrating the Fourth of July, but it need not be a source of guilt or conflict for those trying to adhere to a healthy lifestyle.
Strawberry shortcake with cream, apple pie, cheesecake with fruit topping, ice cream sundaes and pudding cake are packed with calories, fat and sugar. But you can create a simple and healthful red, white and blue dessert to show your patriotism and celebrate in a fun way.
Seasonal fruit is a great place to start to make a delicious, healthful and beautiful dessert. According to the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most Americans ages 2 to 3 years consume the recommended amounts of fruit, but most of those 4 years and older do not. The guidelines also state that children ages 2 to 18 years and adults 19 to 30 years consume more than half their fruit intake as fruit juice. Choosing 100 percent fruit juice can be a part of a healthful diet, but it lacks dietary fiber. Consumed in excess, fruit juice can contribute extra calories.
Most of the fruit should come from whole fruits, which can be fresh, frozen, canned and dried. Consuming canned fruits packed in their own juice instead of fruit canned in syrup is recommended to limit intake of added sugar.
Fruit is a major source of some nutrients that are underconsumed in our nation. Most fruits prepared without added fats or sugars are relatively low in calories. Choosing these instead of higher-calorie foods can help with weight management.
The specific nutrient content in fruits varies according to the fruit. Most fruits provide vitamins A and C, folate, potassium, fiber and many phytonutrients, which are naturally occurring components in plant-based foods that have potential health benefits beyond good nutrition. Phytonutrients also provide color, aroma, texture and flavor to fruits. The sweet flavor in fruit comes from the natural sugar fructose.
A great way to enjoy a wide variety of fruits is to select many colors. Here are some ideas:
Red: blood oranges, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, raspberries, red apples, strawberries and watermelon.
Blue or purple: blackberries, blueberries, plums and purple grapes.
White: bananas, white nectarines and white peaches.
Green: avocados, green apples, green grapes, honeydew, kiwi, limes and green pears.
Orange and yellow: apricots, cantaloupe, grapefruit, mangoes, nectarines, oranges, peaches, pineapples and tangerines.
Serving fruit as a dessert, solo or in combination, is a great option. Watermelon served alone is always a favorite. Or make a watermelon sundae by using an ice cream scoop to make large watermelon balls, and top them with pineapple tidbits, blueberries and chopped pecans.
A dessert plate topped with bright, plump fresh cherries still attached to the stems with shelled pistachios is a great treat.
This red, white and blue dessert is great for celebrating Independence Day for your country as well as your health. Start with luscious red strawberries, add sliced bananas, sprinkle with blueberries and drizzle with a low-fat coconut custard sauce. What a cool and refreshing treat.
Red, White and Blue Fruit with Coconut Custard Sauce
Makes 6 servings
1/3 cup fat-free egg substitute
¾ cup skim milk
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon coconut flavoring
3 cups quartered fresh strawberries
2 medium bananas, peeled and sliced
2 cups fresh blueberries
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 119 calories and a trace amount of fat.
Learn with Lunch, Brunch
Becky will teach Learn with Lunch cooking class featuring Melon Medley with citrus dressing, Gingered Peanut Pasta with shrimp salad, and blueberry muffins at noon Tuesday at Buy For Less, 3501 Northwest Expressway, and at noon July 16 at Buy For Less, 10011 SE 15 in Midwest City. She will teach Learn with Brunch at 9:30 a.m. July 17 at Uptown Grocery Co., 1230 W Covell in Edmond. Class sizes are limited; call 302-6273, ext. 332, for reservations.