Fruit for Thought – Fresh Fruit Alternatives
Naturally sweet and packed with vitamins and fiber, fresh fruit is as tasty as it is nutritious. While we do our best to give our kids the recommended daily 1–1-1/2 cup serving, sometimes it just doesn’t happen: you’re on the go, the pickings are slim in the produce aisle, or the raspberries in the fridge have gone prematurely fuzzy.
For times like these, it’s helpful to have these fresh fruit alternatives on hand:
Frozen fruit: Frozen fruit can actually be just as—or even more—nutritious than fresh fruit because it’s frozen at the peak of ripeness, when it retains the most vitamins. (Fresh fruit actually loses nutrients the longer it’s off the vine.) Just make sure the contents are 100% fruit and contain no sugar or additives. Take it out of the freezer when you need it—for a smoothie, a snack or yogurt topper. It’s great with hot cereal, too.
Canned or packaged fruit: Mandarin orange segments and pineapple chunks are great options, if they are packed in water or fruit juice, not syrup which contains a lot of sugar. If your kids like applesauce, look for the unsweetened kind, or make your own – it’s easier than you think.
Dried fruit: Dried fruits are delicious and rich in vitamins and fiber,but have about double the calories as their fresh counterparts, since most of the water has been removed. Select dried fruits without added sugar and avoid those that are candied or crystallized.
Fruit juice: Like dried fruit, juices naturally contain concentrated doses of natural sugar without the benefit of fiber, so they should not fully replace eating actual fruit.Be sure the label says 100% fruit juice with no added sugar. Dilute juices to reduce the sugar content, or add carbonated water to make your own “spritzer”!
Other fruit products: While not recommended as a primary source of fruit, on-the-go snacks like fruit leather, bake– or freeze-dried fruit chips and fruit bars do contain vitamins and minerals (like Vitamin C and potassium) that count towards kids’ daily nutritional requirements. Look for all-organic options like CLIF Kid Zfruit and Zfruit + Veggie Ropes that are made with fruit puree, and without high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, synthetic preservatives or hydrogenated oils.
Fresh is best when it comes to eating fruit, but it’s good to know that there are plenty of healthy, delicious alternatives to keep around “just in case”.