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Simply Nutritious, Quick and Delicious

Jenna Smith, Extension Educator brings you helpful tips to make meals easy, healthy and tasty!

Focus on Fruits this Summer

I absolutely love the summer and all the delicious summertime foods. Sweet corn, fresh romaine salads, hamburgers on the grill, and a juicy watermelon are just a few of my favorites. But I think it's the fresh fruit that I look forward to the most.

It's easy to get in the proper servings of fruit, especially in the summer when fresh fruit is in abundance. Men and women 19-30 years old and men 31 years old and over need 2 cups per day. Women 31 years and older need 1 ½ cups per day. That may seem like a lot at first, but 2 cups is the equivalent of just one large banana and one cup diced watermelon. Try eating fruit with your breakfast and bring it with you to work for an afternoon snack. Get ideas on how to include fruit in your diet by reading USDA's 10 Tips to Help You Eat More Fruit.

Since fruit contains sugar, many low-carb dieters strictly limit or avoid fruit all together. But that's not a recommendation most dietitians would make. The sugar found in fruit is not linked to any adverse health problems, and as a matter of fact, a recent study in The Journal of the American Medical Association showed that an increased consumption of fruit was tied to a lower body weight and a lower risk of obesity related diseases. The fruit's fiber helps slow your absorption of the sugar in fruit (fructose). To get the maximum benefit of fruit, eat the peel of the skin where much of the fiber and some nutrients lay. Apples, pears, plums and peaches are perfect fruits to eat whole and as an added bonus, it will save you time from having to peel them!

A variety of fresh and local fruit come into season during the summer so there's no getting tired of the repetitive apples, bananas and oranges. I started the season off with my mom's fresh garden strawberries. Locally grown berries will generally pop up in May or June. Fresh cherries immediately followed, and then I began eating plums and peaches. I picked up an incredibly sweet watermelon at the Farmers Market the other day, and while avocados aren't grown in Illinois, they've been cheap and plentiful at the supermarket. The last fruit of the season that excites me is the apple. I'm super excited to head to the orchard this late summer or fall to pick my own apples from the tree. Have you had any of these mouth-watering fruits yet this summer?


Cucumber Watermelon Salad

2 tablespoons lime juice

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

½ teaspoon salt

¼ cup minced fresh parsley

2 medium unpeeled cucumbers, ends removed, sliced lengthwise then sliced crosswise

3 cups watermelon cut in 1" cubes (about 1 pound)

Combine the lime juice, sugar and salt in a 2-quart bowl; whisk together. Stir in parsley. Add the cucumbers; toss with a rubber spatula, coating all cucumber pieces. Add the watermelon; fold in gently. Cover, set aside and allow juice from the watermelon to mix with the other juices. Stir gently and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Yield: 4 (1 ½ cup) servings
Source: Kids Eat Right

Nutritional analysis per serving: 90 calories, 0.5 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 300 milligrams sodium, 20 grams total carbohydrate, 2 grams dietary fiber, 2 grams protein

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