Summer’s the season to snack on fruits

The weather’s been hot and lately it’s been humid, but summer isn’t all bad. The rich variety of fruits in the markets these days represent a potential boost to a healthy diet.

"I see that as an excellent way to vary your diet and to take advantage of the prices right now," said Mary Wilson, a registered dietitian and extension nutrition specialist with Nevada Cooperative Extension. "It’s certainly a tasty alternative to winter, when we get just the apples and oranges and bananas. The key to a healthy diet is variety, because then you don’t get bored. And then we get varied nutrients in our diet."

Wilson said to keep color in mind when choosing fruits to eat, and go for a broad palette.

"Eating a variety of colors is always a good way to go," she said, not just to cut monotony but to also get different nutrients. For example, she said, peaches, plums and nectarines, which are orangish in color, are good sources of Vitamin A.

It might be tempting to put those cherries into homemade pies, peaches into cobblers and nectarines into crisps, but that’s a sure way to pack on the pounds.

"It’s not the raw cherries, raw peaches, raw nectarines and plums that are causing problems in your diet," Wilson said. "It’s when you make them into pies and cobblers. It’s all the other junk we eat that tends to be the issue."

Which doesn’t mean the only way to eat these fruits is out of hand. Wilson said she sometimes grills peaches, nectarines and/or plums with lean pork chops on the grill. Brush them with a little canola oil (or use some cooking spray), sprinkle with a little sugar and grill them for about 4 minutes.

"They’re a wonderful accent," Wilson said.

She said she also likes to make fruit bowls at this time of year, and sometimes gets requests to bring one to a picnic. Wilson said she combines fresh fruits with some canned varieties. She uses watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries, a can of pineapple chunks and a can of drained mandarin oranges. She drains the pineapple juice and uses it to keep the peaches from turning brown.

"Sprinkle frozen berries on top to give it some nice color," she said. "People just love that.

"It’s an easy way to get some healthy food. From my viewpoint, you can eat all of that you want."

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