Fruit is a painter’s best friend—and it could be yours, too! Not only is fruit a delicious and nutritious snack when eaten raw, but it can also enhance hearty meals and decadent desserts, replacing unhealthy staples like sugar, hydrogenated oil and eggs.
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Fruit vs. Dessert
For example, you can replace eggs with applesauce when baking cookies or some cakes, replacing over 100 percent of your daily cholesterol needs with a good source of fiber and vitamin C. If you’re looking for alternatives to heart-stopping (albeit mouthwatering) holiday treats like pecan pie and chocolate chip cookies, try making crisp-less fruit crisp: very ripe apples (or peaches or pear, or the fruit of your choice) with a bit of maple syrup, nutmeg, cinnamon, butter, etc. Keep in mind the more fatty or sugary ingredients, the richer it will taste, but if your apples are ripe enough and especially if you’ve chosen a sweet kind like Gala or Golden Delicious, your ‘crisp’ will taste scrumptious and very satisfying, and even more comforting when served warm—perfect for the holidays.
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If cakes and pies aren’t your style and you simply can’t live without your nightly pint of ice cream, here’s some good news for you: blended bananas make the foundation for a great pseudo-ice cream sundae! Just take two very ripe frozen bananas and put them in the blender—you’ll see them become soft and whipped, yielding an ice cream-like texture. Many people recommend adding a small amount of almond milk or soymilk, and you can also add peanut or almond butter for extra flavor. Incorporate some toppings like carob chips (great alternatives to chocolate chips, with fiber and way less fat and sugar), granola, sprinkles and a dash of Nutella, and you’ve got yourself a sundae that won’t break the bank! Bananas are extremely accessible, available year-round everywhere and only cost about 30 to 80 cents per pound, depending on where you live and shop. As always, organic bananas are best: they cost only slightly more, and are usually much bigger, sweeter and less curved.
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Here’s another idea for cookie lovers: try making your own macaroons. There are some extremely simple, extremely healthy recipes—like shredded coconuts, dates, vanilla and salt—and some more cookie-like ones, but with a healthier twist: with shredded coconut, brown rice syrup, soymilk, salt, vanilla, flour and sugar.
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Macaroons are optimal for satisfying even the most severe sweet tooth. And as a rule of thumb, you can sometimes replace sugar with pineapple juice, argave nectar or maple syrup for a less offensive alternative.
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What about those cocktail cravers out there? I haven’t forgotten about you—next time you crave a sugary surprise, try mixing your drink of choice with whole fruit (just pop it in the blender) instead of sugary, processed fruit juice cocktails.
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It’s usually cheaper, and you still get the fiber and vitamins that fruit provides while tending to your holiday cocktail party needs. So sip away!
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Fruit is packed with fiber, regulating your digestive system and keeping you slim and healthy. Other health benefits depend on the kind of fruit.
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For example, bananas contain a high source of potassium, which helps combat muscle cramps, low blood sugar and strokes, and also strengthens bones while keeping your skin looking beautiful, promoting new skin cell growth. Your hair will soon be rivaling a Pantene model’s, as a potassium-rich diet will cause hair to grow faster and thicker.
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Apples, like bananas, are accessible and inexpensive, and are also rich in vitamins and health benefits. Research shows that apple consumption greatly reduces risk of diabetes, and even more serious illnesses like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and some cancers. Studies also show that people who eat apples regularly have a lesser chance of having a stroke. No wonder an apple a day keeps the doctor away!
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Cantaloupe is an excellent source of vitamin A, C, B-6 and potassium making its health benefits endless. Vitamin A is an essential ingredient in improving vision, and cantaloupe is also a natural defensive. If you don’t mind spending a bit more cash, try mango, which has most of the health benefits of cantaloupe, and is much, much sweeter.
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If you’re looking to stay smart and slim, try blueberries. Blueberries assist in burning belly fat, have anti-inflammatory agents, and they contain a plant nutrient which helps protect the brain from toxins. Blueberries also aid in preventing aging, and research shows that blueberries help reverse memory loss caused by aging. All berries contain great antioxidants, which will keep your immune system healthy and strong.
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Strawberries in particular are great for weight loss, as they are low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. Remember, carbohydrates in fruit are not fattening nor will they induce feelings of lethargy or low energy, and conversely, they will provide your body with energy.
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So, if the holidays are coming up and you’re worried about weight gain or poor health, don’t fret. Fruit is a delicious alternative to many sugary baked goods. And baked goods can be incorporated into a healthy diet, complete with exercise. Just try to enjoy the pumpkin pies and pecan cookies in moderation, and remember that autumn is prime apple-picking season.
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Whether you’re looking for apples for your pie or to snack on raw, here is yet another incentive: fall foliage. Hurry before winter creeps up on us, as it does each year!
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