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How to eat more fruit

publication date: Sep 11, 2011
author/source: Elly McCausland
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We’re probably all aware by now of the importance of getting our 5-a-day. This site has lots of great ideas for ways to incorporate more veg into your diet. However, on those days when you only have time to grab a sandwich between lectures, or only have the inclination to make a piece of toast for your dinner, suggestions for making your own vegetable chilli or cutting your own crudités aren’t a realistic option.

Enter fruit. Forget sugar-laden, calorie-packed cereal bars: fruit is the ultimate portable nutrient powerhouse. If you don’t have a kitchen or live in catered halls, topping up your meals with a fruit-based snack is a sure-fire way to ensure you get those 5 a day. If you are lucky enough to have your own kitchen, the possibilities become even more exciting. I’m a firm believer in adding at least one piece of fruit to every meal, whether sweet or savoury.

While it might sound odd at first, fruit is a brilliant ingredient for enhancing salads or stews. Many fruits make excellent partners to meat, cheese and even some fish (just think of roast pork with apple sauce, brie with grapes or cranberry, and mackerel with gooseberries). Some cuisines, such as Middle Eastern or Indian, are replete with exciting and exotic dishes featuring fruit: lamb tagine with apricots and prunes, biryani with nuts and raisins, fish curries with mango.

By incorporating fruit into as many meals as you can, rather than just reserving it for snacks, you will not only secure your 5 a day, but also end up with unusual and delicious dishes:

Smoked mackerel fillets are cheap and nutritious. Try pairing them with grated apple and a little horseradish in a sandwich, or orange or mango in a couscous or rice salad. In fact, there are few fruits that won’t work with this flavoursome fish, cutting through its oiliness.

Like a cheese sandwich (who doesn’t)? Add a sliced apple or pear, or a handful of grapes.

Segmented oranges are great in a carrot salad with feta cheese, raisins, lemon juice and coriander. Wrap in pitta bread for a more substantial lunch.

When in season, cherries and figs are often a bargain. Try them with soft goat’s cheese on toast or in a salad. Figs go very well with parma ham and mozzarella in a sandwich. They’re also delicious added to the juices of a pan-fried duck breast or pork chop.

Mix cherries with breadcrumbs and goat’s cheese for a surprisingly good stuffing for a roast chicken.

Cook sausages in the oven alongside wedges of apple and onion for a warming winter dinner.

Ripe pears are excellent in a salad with blue cheese and walnuts.

Sliced mango or papaya is delicious in salads with smoked chicken, mackerel or duck, accompanied by coriander and lime juice.

Scatter pomegranate seeds over all sorts of savoury dishes to really emphasise their flavour. Good with grilled aubergine or courgette, all meats (especially lamb and duck), rice and couscous. To remove the seeds from a pomegranate, simply cut in half widthways and bash with a rolling pin over a bowl. The seeds will fall out (wear an apron though to avoid being splattered with pink juice!)

Scatter fresh fruits over cheesecakes, cakes, pavlovas and tarts before serving. Not only will it make them look prettier, you’ll be getting one of your 5 a day without even realising. Fresh berries are ideal, but fruits like oranges, kiwi, mango and passionfruit also work well if berries are expensive.

Add fruit to your breakfast. Whether in the form of a smoothie or a bowl of fruit salad alongside your muesli, it’s a refreshing start to the day and a good way to get in a healthy frame of mind. At the weekend or when you have a little more time, try making pancakes to serve with fresh fruit and maple syrup as I did here and here.

Don’t forget dried fruit. Dried apricots, prunes and raisins are excellent in curries or a Moroccan lamb tagine – cubed lamb shoulder is also a very economical cut. You can also add dried fruits to the stuffing for a roast chicken or joint of pork. Add raisins to a rice pilaf for a tasty burst of sweetness ideal alongside a spicy curry.

Elly McCausland has recently graduated from Oxford and has her own blog Nutmegs, Seven


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