Who knew there would be so much friction over fruit?! It really is the bullied portion of the balanced plate😣! I went into details on why this should not be the case with fruit about two years ago. Time for a revisit with summer approaching☀️, the ongoing questions, misinformation and confusion out there, and the seasonal fruit in full bloom.
Let’s start with the most popular fact about fruit - YES, it has sugar. It always has and always will contain sugar, but it is the natural sugar known as fructose. You cannot compare the sugar in fruits to the sugar in Twizzlers® (and no offense to Twizzlers®, one of my favorite treats💕). It is NOT equal. Let me clear up the disparities, backed by scientific evidence.
So let’s break down those natural sugar numbers. According to the American Diabetes Association, one serving of fruit is 15 grams of carbohydrates. Most fruits provide about 15 grams of carbohydrates per 1/2 cup serving, or about the size of a tennis ball. If you are following a low-carb diet, you do not need to limit fruit completely. Actually having fruit throughout the day is beneficial due to its fiber content, as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For example, if you are following a low-carb meal plan and your goal is 30-45 grams of carbs in a meal, one serving of grain (1/3 cup of brown rice) plus a fruit serving would equal 30 grams of carbs. If you consumed 2/3 cup of brown rice, you would be at 30 grams of carbs as well, or 45 grams if you added a fruit serving. If you are thinking counting the carbs in fruit makes it not worth eating, keep in mind that eating fruits (and vegetables) can reduce your risk of developing heart disease, cancer, inflammation, and diabetes. Enjoy fruit, just be sure to count the carbs closely if following a low-carb meal plan!
How can I enjoy fruit and assume it is not skyrocketing my blood sugar with or without prediabetes or diabetes? The fiber content in fruits helps to decrease the impact of the sugar content in fruits, or how quickly the natural sugar in fruit will raise your blood sugar level. Most fruits have a low glycemic index (GI) because of their fructose and fiber content. Adding a protein source (e.g. cottage cheese) or healthy fat source (e.g. almond butter) when consuming fruit will also help to further decrease the glycemic index, or how quickly the fruit will raise your blood sugar level. The addition of protein and healthy fat, as with fiber, will slow down that rise in your blood sugar, helping to keep it more stable. Incorporating fruit into your daily meal plan is key for optimal health, as the fiber helps to keep us full, keep the bowels regular, and helps manage cholesterol levels.
I hear you, but what are the lower-carb fruits? So glad you asked!🙂Here are some of the lower carb fruits in order of least to most, but still considered low.
🍅Tomatoes = (1 whole, medium) 3.6g of total carbs; 1.1g of fiber
🍌🍌🍌But what about bananas?! Go green!
~Less ripe bananas, greener versus yellow in color, contain a high amount of resistant starch and pectin, which have been linked to several health benefits…As bananas ripen, there is a breakdown of starch, including some types of resistant starch. This increases the total amount of natural sugar in a banana. Food composition databases report average nutrient concentrations in foods and do not include variables such as the ripeness or maturity of fruits. When it comes to bananas, this can make a difference of 22% less fiber = 15.6 grams to 3.4 grams (slightly ripe) and 122% less 15.6 grams to 1.9 (ripe). WOW!
~When baking, which I do a lot over here, you still need to use overripe bananas for the best results! You are using natural sugar versus processed sugar.
~For example, here is a blog I had written for Diets in Review quite a little while ago, Why is Everyone So Terrified to Eat Bananas? A Dietitian Peels Back the Truth, but it still holds true today!
🍇And I know you have questions about grapes😊: 1 cup red/green = 27.3g total carbs, 1.4g fiber
So what is their issue? They are higher in natural sugar which is unfortunately not balanced out with a higher fiber content. This does not make them evil, quite the opposite! But I know they can be addicting, especially if you are sitting with a serving bowl size of them on the couch 🤔…The best way to include these vitamin, nutrient, antioxidant, and hydrating little power houses is put one serving (15-17 grapes) in a small bowl for yourself, and slowly consume and enjoy. Freezing them first works well to even further slow down your eating pace with grapes.
Eating more plants🌱is truly a thing that will hopefully never phase out of the popular chat. Fruit is considered a plant. A natural product that grows from the ground. So let’s get cooking with some tasty fruit! 🍓🍎🍍
BLACKBERRY AND FETA SALAD
This salad brings true joy from its simplicity, beauty, and combination of sweet, tart, and salty. You could add grilled chicken or shrimp for a balanced main meal, or serve as is for your side dish.
4 cups arugula
1 cup + ¼ cup fresh blackberries, rinsed well, divided
¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon crumbled feta cheese, low fat, divided
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 large lemon)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Optional toppings: lemon zest, balsamic glaze, pistachios, or favorite nuts
In a large salad bowl, toss arugula, blackberries and ¼ cup of feta cheese.
In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, honey, salt, and freshly ground pepper.
Toss the salad bowl ingredients with half of the dressing. Taste and add more dressing if needed. Top with the ¼ cup of blackberries and tablespoon of feta cheese. Suggest further topping it off with lemon zest and balsamic vinegar, and desired nuts. Makes 4 side dish servings, or two servings with a protein (ie. grilled chicken, tofu) for a complete meal.
APPLE, KALE, AND SAUSAGE STEW
Even with the warmer weather, the slow cooker can be a great way to not turn your oven on and produce that extra heat. It keeps things simple for a busy day or night when you want a light bite, without the stress of complicated cooking. You can spice things up as much as desired, or keep it cool. Chicken, veggie or vegan sausage works well here.
1 medium apple (Braeburn or Honeycrisp), peeled, cored, chopped
14 ounces vegetable broth, low sodium
2 pounds kale, washed, stems removed and chopped or torn into bite-size pieces
1 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes, low sodium
1/2 Vidalia onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (yes, the smoked makes a difference here)
¼ teaspoon salt (optional)
1 package sausage (pre-cooked chicken, veggie, or vegan), chopped into bite-size pieces
Place apple through smoked paprika in a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, stirring every 30-45 minutes. Add pre-cooked sausage for the last 30 minutes to heat up. Makes 2-3 dinner servings.
BLUEBERRY AND RASPBERRY CRUMBLE
This seasonal and sweet crowd-pleasing dessert makes a well-balanced breakfast too! Just add a generous dollop of yogurt on top for your protein. Perhaps a lovely Memorial Day treat, with leftovers for breakfast😊.
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup plus 3 Tbsp. all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 cups oats
2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
Nonstick cooking spray
Toppings per serving: For dessert: 2 Tablespoons low fat frozen yogurt; For breakfast: ½-1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt plus a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup
Spray the bottom of a 1-quart casserole dish or 9” square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together the granulated sugar and the 3 tablespoons of flour.
Add the blueberries and raspberries to the bowl and gently toss to coat.
Transfer the coated berries into the prepared baking dish.
In another bowl, combine the oats, brown sugar and the remaining 1/3 cup of flour.
Add the cut butter pieces (using a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers-best method!), until the crumble mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Sprinkle over the berries. Lightly spray top with oil spray.
Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes. Switch to high broil for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully to make sure it does not burn! Cut into 8 squares and add toppings per serving. Makes 8 servings.
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The rebellious Rd
As a longtime promoter of healthy cooking and eating, Amy's focus is on plant-based eating, with a rebellious twist - that she and no one, needs to be perfect.