Fresh Fridays

July 10, 2015
Vol. VII No. 14
Strawberries and Plums
In This Issue

Fruit! Fruit! Fruit!


We know summer is finally here to stay when we can sink our teeth into a perfectly ripe peach or eat fresh berries by the bowlful. There are so many fruits to choose from this time of year. Flavorful grapes, plums, nectarines and melons are cropping up in nearby farms and home gardens, and their taste is unmatched.


Fruits are a big part of the Mediterranean diet, making up the base of the pyramid along with vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. One reason why they are so popular in the cuisine is because the climate of the Mediterranean is ideal for growing fruit. Some fruits we rarely see stateside, such as citron, a giant lemon-like fruit, are available year round in some Mediterranean countries. The key to eating fruit the Mediterranean way is not necessarily eating fruit grown in the Mediterranean, but rather eating fruit that is in season wherever you happen to live. 


To truly appreciate the natural sweetness of fruit, eat it raw. As is customary in the Mediterranean, think of fresh fruit as a naturally sweet dessert. Fruits contain sugar, but the natural sugar you consume when you eat fruits "earns its way" by bringing along all kinds of useful vitamins, minerals and fiber. In contrast, added sugar in many desserts contributes no nutritional benefits, while adding extra calories. Beware: many fruit juices are loaded with sugar, some even more than soda. Substitute whole fruit for juice, or mix 100% fruit juice with water to avoid sugar overload. 


Most fruits are low in fat, calories, and sodium, and all fruits have zero cholesterol. They are packed with nutrients too. Here are a few examples of common fruits and their respective nutrients: 

  • Vitamin C. Excellent sources: apricots, blackberries, cantaloupes, citrus fruits, guavas, honeydew melons, kiwis, mangos, persimmons, pineapples, raspberries, strawberries, and watermelons. Good sources: apples, bananas, blueberries, cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, plums, and pomegranates.
  • Fiber. Excellent sources: apples, avocados, blackberries, pears, persimmons, and raspberries. Good sources: bananas, blueberries, dates, figs, guavas, kiwis, oranges, and pomegranates. 
  • Vitamin A. Excellent sources: apricots, cantaloupes, grapefruits, guavas, mangos, papayas, and persimmons.
  • Potassium. Excellent sources: avocados and guavas. Good sources: bananas and cantaloupes. 
  • Folate. Excellent sources: strawberries. Good sources: avocados, blackberries, cantaloupes, guavas and papayas. 
  • Vitamin K. Excellent sources: avocados, blackberries, blueberries and grapes. Good sources: pomegranates. 

Excellent sources contain at least 20% of the daily value of the nutrient. Good sources contain 10-19% of the daily value of the nutrient.


Clearly, fruits are nutrient-rich foods. Eating a variety as part of a healthy Mediterranean diet can reduce risk for heart disease, certain types of cancers, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. For these reasons, nutrition scientists recommend that the average adult eat about two cups of fruit every day. 


One easy way to add more to your diet is to eat them for dessert and save cake and cookies for special occasions, a common practice in the Mediterranean. Take your cue from poached pears in France, gorgonzola-stuffed figs in Italy, pomegranate with yogurt and honey in Greece, baked quince in Turkey, stuffed dates in Morocco, and fruit salad in Egypt. 


Fruit is also used to flavor savory dishes in the Mediterranean. In Israel and Turkey, meat and poultry dishes are often cooked with apricots, and pomegranate arils are sprinkled over salads. Try some melon wrapped in prosciutto or cheese for an afternoon snack. In a classic Sicilian dish, sliced blood oranges are simply served with red onions and olive oil. Lemons and limes are used all over to add flavor to meals.


Let's not forget the stars of the Mediterranean diet: olives. They may not be the first food that come to mind when you think of fruit, but they meet the definition of fruit as the fleshy part of a plant that contains a seed. Unlike other fruits (besides avocados), olives are loaded with heart-healthy fats and iron. Eat them like you would other fruits: raw, roasted, or added to savory dishes. Check out our 12 Great Ways to Use Olives for more ideas.


In fact, check out all of our 12 Great Ways to enjoy fruits, among other ingredients. Read on for some delicious fruit recipes to lead you into a fruitful summer ahead!


Click on a title or photo below to go to the recipe. 

Medjool Dates and Yogurt


This refreshing dessert recipe (also great for breakfast or snack) can be doubled or cut in half, depending on whether you're feeding a crowd or enjoying your own company.


Recipe and photo courtesy of Bard Valley Natural Delights.


Wheat Berry Salad


This is a deliciously fresh and energizing whole grain salad. It is fantastic on its own or with fish, prawns or chicken. Experiment with adding different citrus fruits of your choice.


Recipe and photo courtesy of Positively Good For You


Parchment Baked Fruit


Oldways enjoyed this recipe on a trip to Spain. Our version included apricots, mango, peach, melon, and pomegranate seeds, but feel free to use any fruit you wish! Dried fruit also makes a wonderful addition.


Recipe adapted from Mar Luchetti. Photo courtesy of Oldways.

Fresh Fridays is a bi-weekly celebration of Mediterranean eating and living. We hope our Friday recipes will remind you just how easy and delicious eating the Mediterranean way can be. 

To find even more delicious Mediterranean recipes please visit:     

 Mediterranean Foods Alliance (MFA)        





Let the old ways be your guide to good health and well-being.       



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