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Monday, 25 October 2010

Nutrish and Delish -- Fruity Fall Recipe Ideas That Help Keep You Eating Healthy While Enjoying Every Bite

I love fall -- the colors, the scents, and the crisp chill in the air. Also, my birthday is October 29th, so I get a chance, every year, to look back on fond memories and to look ahead to new adventures. It seems to be the time of year where I do my reflecting and resolving to make my 'new year' the best yet! Life sure isn't easy and every year, it's something, isn't it?! But, I've resolved to make my health and fitness a priority no matter what. What's the use of having poor fitness and PREVENTABLE health issues on top of all the other worries that life inevitably throws your way. So, just for a moment -- I'd like to share with you a way to instantly make your whole home feel cozy and comforting as you fill your place with an amazing aroma, while providing you with a wonderful fall fruity dessert as the extra bonus. It's also a way to economically use up any fruit you have in the house that may be starting to rot -- DON'T throw it away!!!!

Fall Fruity Favorite

Take any fruit you have -- apples, pears, figs, peaches, even berries. Cut up in chunky pieces, except for the berries -- just sprinkle those inbetween and over all the chunky fruit pieces and place in a VERY lightly greased (with some sort of vegetable oil, but not olive oil) baking dish. Sprinkle some chopped nuts -- about 1/2 cup -- any will do -- I like walnuts. Sprinkle over some cinnamon or ginger or nutmeg -- whatever you prefer. I've even grated some fresh ginger over the fruit mixture if I have it. Ginger is particularly good over pears. And berries -- particularly blueberries, but any berries, really -- sprinkled through chunky fruit pieces always add an extra 'thickness' and 'jam-iness, and 'moorish' quality to this dish. You CAN add a Tablespoon of brown sugar, sprinkled over the whole fruit/nut/spice mixture, but it's not really necessary unless your fruit is really sour -- say if you added cranberries -- and if you're watching your total kcalorie intake per day. Add about 1/2 cup of water over entire mixture. You can also use diluted orange or any juice to give the dish an extra kick. Bake in a medium oven (350F or 180C) for about 40 minutes, until fruit is cooked through and nicely browned. It's best to have some 'bite' left in the fruit, as this adds to the eating pleasure. Serve warm or cold with low-fat (or better-yet, fat-free, if you're watching kcalorie and fat) custard or yogurt.
If you don't have an oven, you can make the same recipe over the hobb. Just place everything in a medium pot and bring to a simmer. Simmer until fruit is softened and has some 'bite' left. The recipe doesn't brown as nicely, but the flavors and aroma are still wonderful. This version creates more of a 'stewed fruit' dessert.
For both versions, you can also splash in your favorite liquer or dessert wine to pick up that hint. The kcalories and alcohol evaporate away.

I also sometimes add an oat crunch topping -- but this DOES add kcalories, sugar, and fat to the dessert and is not really necessary for the enjoyment factor, but it is a nice touch. For oat-crunch topping: Take 2 cups of quick-cooking oats. Mix in 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (dark or light), 1 Tablespoon flour (whole wheat is best), and cut in some fat of some sort until the mixture is crumbly and made easy to sprinkle over the fruit mixture. Butter chunks is WONDERFUL to use -- for flavor AND texture, but it adds a source of saturated fat -- not good if you are watching your cholesterol and total fat intake. So, vegetable oil, other than olive oil, can also be used and yields a satisfactory result, too. You only need about 1/3 cup oil or 3 scant Tablespoons butter. You can also add crushed nuts to the topping mix. Sprinkle topping mix over fruit mixture before baking. You CANNOT do this if you're making the 'stewed version'.

Another idea that is a crowd-pleaser and doesn't break the 'kcalorie bank' is to use ready-made meringue nests. These are basically sugar and protein. They can be crushed roughly over the fruit mixture before dolloping on your custard or yogurt or, if you have the big nests, you can fill them with the fruit and dollop over the custard or yogurt.


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