Published on July 16, 2018

Turn to fresh fruit for sweet summer treats

Bonnie Brost is a licensed and registered dietitian in the Wellness Program at the Essentia Health St. Mary’s Heart & Vascular Center in Duluth.

Summer brings an abundance of fresh fruits with great flavors that you only can taste in the peak of summer.  Berries and melons are available locally in our gardens and farmers markets. Other fruits such as cherries, peaches and nectarines come from other parts of the United States.

These tasty treats are the perfect and simple solution to our cravings for something sweet.

The cave man knew that if it was sweet, it was safe to eat. Today, we often don’t choose fruits because they are high in sugar. But fruits have natural sugars, not the added sugar that the American Heart Association recommends limiting.

Removing fruits from our diet it is like throwing the baby out with the bath water.  We’d also eliminate some very important vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. These nutrients are important for our heart function, reduced inflammation, protection against cancer and fiber for our digestive tract.

To limit added sugar, keep your sweet treats simple. Try a fresh fruit parfait instead of blueberry pie, cherry cobbler or strawberry shortcake. Make popsicles from whole fruit. Try grilled peaches or a watermelon salad.

Enjoy the sweets tastes of summer.  Keep it simple.  Don’t heat up the kitchen by baking treats with too much added sugar.   

Fruit Parfait
Make a red, white and blue treat. Use blueberries, strawberries or raspberries with vanilla yogurt.

About ¾ cup of the fruit of your choice
3 tablespoons vanilla or plain low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt
Toppings such as granola or nuts

For one parfait, choose about ¾ cup of fruit. Layer about ¼ cup of fruit into a bowl or cup, top with 1 tablespoon yogurt, add another ¼ cup of fruit, then another layer of 1 tablespoon yogurt, another layer of fruit and top it off with 1 tablespoon of yogurt with 1 tablespoon of granola or nuts.

Great fruit choices are:
Berries: strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries
Melons: peeled and cubed watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew melon
Kiwi:  peeled and sliced
Mango: peeled and cubed
Pineapple: chunks, fresh or canned (drained)
Peach slices

Nutrition Facts
Will vary by choice of fruit and yogurt.
Servings, 1; calories, 90-150; total fat, 1 gram; saturated fat, 0 grams; cholesterol, 2-4 milligrams; sodium, 10-30 grams; potassium, 100-200 milligrams; carbohydrates, 15-20 grams; total sugars, 9-15 grams; added sugar, 2-4 grams; fiber, 2-5 grams; protein, 3-6 grams.

Homemade Fruit Popsicles
Recipe adapted from Sally Kuzemchak, registered dietitian at Real Mom Nutrition website.

2 cups fresh fruit of your choice such as strawberries, watermelon chunks, blueberries
1 tablespoon honey

Puree fruit and honey in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into ice pop molds or into 5-ounce paper cups with a popsicle stick stuck in the cup.  Freeze until hard.

Nutrition Facts
Will vary by choice of fruit
Servings, 4; serving size, 1; calories, 35-60; total fat, 0 grams; saturated fat, 0 grams; cholesterol, 0 milligrams; sodium, 0 milligrams; potassium, 50-100 milligrams; carbohydrates, 10-15 grams; total sugar, 8-12 grams; added sugar, 4, grams; protein, 0-1 gram.

Watermelon Summer Salad
This unique combination of ingredients provides a very tasty and refreshing summer salad.  This recipe was adapted from

½ cup red onion, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice (1 small lime)
6 cups seedless watermelon, cubed
¼ cup feta cheese
¼ cup pitted black olives, cut in half
1 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Place onion slices in a small bowl with the lime juice. Let stand for 10 minutes to mellow the flavor of the raw onion. In a large bowl, combine the watermelon, feta cheese, black olives and mint. Stir in onion/lime juice mixture. Drizzle on olive oil and toss to blend. 

Nutrition Facts
Servings, 6; serving size, 1 cup; calories, 105; total fat, 4 grams; saturated fat, 1 gram; cholesterol, 5 milligrams; sodium, 150 milligrams; potassium, 250 milligrams; carbohydrates, 14 grams; total sugar, 10 grams; added sugar, 0 grams; fiber, 2 grams; protein, 3 grams.

Grilled Peaches
This recipe was adapted from

2 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
6 fresh peaches, halved and pitted

Preheat grill. Whisk olive oil, basil and thyme in a small bowl. Allow flavors to blend for 5 minutes. Brush oil mixture on inside flesh of peach halves. Grill peaches, flesh side down until softened and grill marks appear, about 4 minutes.

Nutrition Facts:
Servings, 12; serving size, 1 peach half; calories, 35; total fat, 3 grams; saturated fat, 0 grams; cholesterol, 0 milligrams; sodium, 0 milligrams; potassium, 145 grams; carbohydrates, 4 grams; total sugar, 3 grams; added sugar, 0 grams; fiber, 1 gram; protein, 1 gram.

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