Image adapted from caryatidxx, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0 

Are you eating three to five servings of fruit each day? If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably not hitting that goal, at all. According to recent research, only eight percent of individuals reach their recommended target of fruit for any given day.

I’ll be the first to admit, I’d never been much of a fruit fan in my adult years. I was always going out of my way to remind myself to eat a banana randomly, or to remind myself to pick up a few apples at the market. But lately, I’ve been finding new ways to sneak fruit into the meals I’m already eating. Genius! Now, I don’t have to go out of my way to eat fruit. I just pull it out of the fridge with the rest of the ingredients I’m using (greens, chicken, milk, what have you), and voila!—I’m suddenly reaching my three-to-five goal. Interested in how to sneak fruits into your meals? Read on

  1. Add to salads. Fresh fruit added to a savory salad can be simply divine. Hello, salt, meet sweet… now meet my happy mouth. Classic combinations to try this summer: Strawberries, spinach, and raspberries with goat cheese; blueberries, walnuts and kale; cherries, arugula and pistachios with feta cheese; or peaches, avocado, citrus and lime juice.
  2. Make a compote. I rave about the beloved compote more often than I should (I’m sure my friends would say), but with plenty of good reason. These from-scratch fruit sauces are not quite as jelly as a jam, but more chunky with whole pieces of fruit in a spiced cooking liquid. Served warm (more syrupy) or chilled (more jelly), a fruit compote is magnificent over all sorts of recipes sweet and savory. Cherries cooked in port or balsamic are lovely over ice cream, grilled salmon or pork roast. Strawberries cooked in apple juice and cinnamon are wonderful over fruit pie, Greek yogurt or duck breast. To make a compote, cook chopped dried and/or fresh fruits in a small amount of cooking liquid (wine, liquor, broth or juice) with any spices of your liking (citrus peel, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger are all great); cook until reduced and thickened, then serve it up. Keep it in your fridge for up to two weeks, and it’ll turn more jelly-like and spreadable.
  3. Stir into your breakfast bowl. Don’t miss the chance to start the day right; add a few pieces of fresh fruit to your morning bowl. Granola, oatmeal or good ol’ cereal can only get better with chopped fruits added to the mix. And bonus: Add fruits in place of sugar to your oatmeal for a waist-friendly option.
  4. Add to meat and protein entrees. There’s something Eden-like about the combination of meats and fruits to me. Tropical, sensual, enticing—I believe the fairy god Pan would have been a big fan of the combo. Back on Earth, however, there is something completely logical about the combination: Fruits add a balancing level of acidity to proteins, which tend to be overly savory or salty. Make a fresh fruit salsa (try strawberry, avocado and lime juice) to spoon over grilled meat and fish cuts. Add chunks of pineapple, peaches and other summer fruits to skewers of beef, chicken, or tofu kebabs. Add dried cranberries, figs or raisins to any stew or tagine. Add virtually any summer fruits to shrimp, crab and other shell fish salads.
  5. Blend into a smoothie. When all else fails, toss it in a blender! So you’ve forgotten to eat any fruit all day so far, and suddenly it’s evening. Don’t despair; make a smoothie. Fresh fruits and either ice or the milk of your choice are all it takes to puree up an antioxidant-rich drink that can be a lean dessert after a hearty meal.

Image adapted from caryatidxx, Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0