Many theories are expounded to explain the rising rate of obesity and preventable diseases in America. But the biggest reason might be shockingly simple—we simply are not eating the right foods. A recent study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 1 in 10 American adults eats enough fruit. Only 13 percent meet the recommended daily fruit intake of 1.5 to 2 cups per day.
One reason people might not be eating fruit? It’s boring. Plain, bare fruit is uninteresting and unappealing to many people. But the beauty of fruit is its versatility—it can be used in delicious, inspiring dishes that make eating it fun. That’s why STACK reached out to our nutrition experts to find out some of their favorite ways to eat fruit. Give some of these a try, and you’ll find yourself eating more fruit in no time—and you’ll actually enjoy it.
Put Fruit in a Salad
Adding fruit to a salad is a simple way to integrate more produce into your diet. It’s also a great way to take any salad from boring to tasty. You can include almost any type of fruit in a salad—mango, strawberries, blueberries, peaches, pears, bananas, dried fruit. Your only limitation is your imagination. Katie Moore, registered dietitian and operator of the website Fit Nutrition 4 Life, is a big fan of including fruits in her salads. So is Sara Haas, registered dietitian and operator of the website Sarah Haas RDN, who recommends this simple, tasty salad, which includes several fruits:
- Spinach as your main green
- Sliced apples, blueberries and pears
- Sliced red bell peppers
- Toasted walnuts
- Honey-balsamic dressing
- Toss and enjoy
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Pair Fruit with Meat
Eating fruit with meat is often overlooked, but it is truly delicious. The savoriness of meat and the sweetness of fruit blend well together and make for a unique and enjoyable dish. “I think fruit and meat is one of the best combinations ever invented,” says Dr. Krista Scott-Dixon, a nutrition coach at Precision Nutrition.
Scott-Dixon offers these great fruit and meat pairings:
- Apples or peaches with pork
- Rhubarb with lamb
- Fruit salsas (such as pineapple, mango or papaya) over fish and chicken
- Citrus, such as lemon, with fish
- Pineapple in East and South Asian stir-fries
- Mango or pineapple in curries
She also shares one of her favorite recipes—blueberry bison stew. If bison isn’t available, you can substitute lean beef.
Use Fruit in a Dessert
Fruit and dessert? Aren’t they exact opposites? Nope. In fact, fruit is a fantastic way to kick up the nutrition value of some classic desserts. Katie Davis, registered dietitian and operator of RDKate.com, loves including fruit in her desserts. Here’s a recipe for a chocolate banana peanut butter ice cream, which takes only minutes to make and has a deliciously creamy consistency.
- Blend together 1 frozen banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter, 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder and 2 tbsp of milk
- If you want to up the protein, add a half scoop of protein powder or a half cup of plain Greek yogurt
- Blend until smooth and enjoy immediately
Marie Spano, sports dietitian for the Atlanta Hawks and operator of mariespano.com, loves to whip up homemade popsicles using fruit and Greek yogurt.
Blend a Fruit Smoothie
Spano also loves to include fruit in smoothies, which is a very easy (and very tasty) way to ingest several servings of fruit. If bare fruit isn’t for you, throwing it in a smoothie is a great idea. Smoothies are refreshing and deliver a variety of nutrients. Spano recommends this “Post-Workout Power Smoothie” on her site:
- 8 oz. milk
- 1 scoop protein powder
- 3-4 chunks of frozen mango
- 1/3 cup of frozen berries
- shaved ginger root
- Add all ingredients to a blender and puree
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Spread Some Nut Butter on Fruit
Many of our nutritional experts enjoy and recommend adding a nut butter to fruit. It’s a great way to add protein and healthy fats, and it makes for a well-balanced snack. An apple with peanut butter is probably the most popular example, but many other options exist.
Fruits that go great with nut butter include bananas, pears, grapes and strawberries. Nut butters other than peanut butter include almond butter, cashew butter and pecan butter. To spice up your fruit/nut butter combo, add little sprinkle of cinnamon, like Precision Nutrition coach Brian St. Pierre does.
Toss Fruit on the Grill
Although people might think the grill is reserved for meats (and the occasional veggie), grilled fruit can be a delightful addition to many dishes or even enjoyed solo. Grilling your fruit causes the natural sugars to caramelize, giving it a unique taste many find enjoyable. Fruits that can taste better when grilled include bananas, watermelon, apples and peaches. Moore loves adding grilled peaches to her summer salads for a sweet-and-savory addition.
RELATED: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever
Mix Fruit in at Breakfast
Nearly all the dietitians we talked with shared their affinity for mixing fruit into a wide variety of dishes—especially at breakfast time. Fruit goes great in foods like oatmeal, granola, cereal, yogurt and cottage cheese. Not only does it add a burst of flavor to these sometimes dull foods, it’s also an easy way to add more vitamins and minerals to your diet. Try adding some strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and/or bananas to your breakfast. You’ll find yourself feeling better throughout the morning and into the day.