“Eat your fruits and vegetables!” is common health advice we hear. The impression we get from advertising, government health recommendations, and our mothers is that eating fruits and vegetables is an unpleasant task that must be done for our own good. Kind of like brushing our teeth, doing the dishes, or cleaning out the cat’s litter box.
This is a sad, sad sign.
What about history, though? How did people in the past view their fruit? I would like to make the case they didn’t view fruit as a “health” must, but as a pleasure.
It has only been in recent times that we have had such a surplus of sweeteners available. Honey has been used a long time as a sweetener, but the average family probably didn’t have unlimited supplies of it. Instead, what I see in a lot of traditional recipes is a large use of fruit to help sweeten desserts, or to act as dessert by themselves. Fruit based desserts are delicious, and are also full of wonderful nutrients and anti-oxidants. They are naturally sweet so that we don’t have to use as much sweetener.
We do have a “natural” sweet tooth that allows us to enjoy sweet things, it just has. in modern days, gotten out of whack. Instead of fulfilling that longing with sweet fruit, we concentrate on often highly sweetened cakes and cookies. I have nothing against cakes and cookies! But I do think that we could do with a little more fruit based desserts.
Using fruit as a dessert is as simple as serving in season ripe peaches at the end of a meal, or cutting up a few different type of fruits for a nice fruit salad. Then, think of apple and berry pies, crumbs, crisps. The French have lovely ways to use fruit in desserts as well in a myriad of tarts and other beautiful desserts. In Moroccan cooking, after heavy, creamy main dishes, they often serve light and fresh fruit dishes as dessert. Fruits are very versatile, flavorful, and wonderful! Just think of all of the ice creams and sorbets you can make out of them.
On a limited budget, I have also found this mindset to be helpful. When I take my dessert budget and put it towards quality fruit, then I find it much easier to be able to fit nice fruit into our budget. Fruit seems to be the one thing that I often can’t fit into our budget, so this is so helpful!
This summer I plan on experimenting with fresh fruits in season. I can’t wait to see what lovely desserts I come up with. And this week, I will be sharing two simple dessert ideas.
But how about you? Do you view fruit as a health choice or as a sweet choice? What are your favorite fruit based desserts?
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Hi Kimi, this is off topic, but I wanted to say I really appreciate the way you’ve been putting your recipes in a little blue box, aside from the photos and explanation. That way, those of us (or at least me) who print and use like…95% of your recipes 🙂 don’t have to print photos and it all fits on one page.
A very simple dessert that I like with fruit is just cubed cantalope with fresh mint chopped up and stirred in.
Also grilled pineapple is wonderful! (Not that pineapple is in season, but now that I’m making lacto-fermented veggies, I want to try the cortido recipe from NT with the pineapple vinegar. Now I think I can justify an organic pineapple – eat the inside & make vinegar with the outside 🙂
I have just learned I need to do a no sugar diet for a while (and probably limit fruit too – though this is a little unclear now). So I will definitely be eating fruit as a dessert.
I wholeheartedly agree. I have been off of all sweeteners for a while now and when we picked up slightly tart strawberries in our csa I couldn’t believe how much of a sweet treat that was. With a little raw whipped cream or in a yogurt-based smoothie they are a simple dessert in and of themselves. We’re going to go picking this week :).
Fruit is our dessert of choice. The girls and I love halving medjool dates and stuffing it with Mascarpone cheese and a crispy almond. Yummy. I also love apples with raw cheeses and fresh strawberries spread with almond butter. And nothing (nothing!) is better than cherries in season.
I remind my kids that in Biblical times honey and fruit were considered dessert and even that was eaten in moderation.
lizzykristine @ Uplifted Eyes
My husband would rather have fruit than cake or pie, any day. I suspect that when your tongue becomes more acclimated to natural flavors, the usual fare is overwhelming — sickeningly sweet. At least, that’s how it works for us. We eat very few baked desserts (once or twice a month?).
Fruit smoothies, on the other hand…. every night!
I love your history lessons:) I don’t eat too much fruit, but when I do, I love fresh juicy peaches. That is probably one of my favorites! I was disappointed the other day by some blueberries I bought. I got them home and washed them and couldn’t wait to pop them in my mouth. Well, they were pretty tasteless! Local, organic ones are SO much better!
I am having a special day on my blog tomorrow that is including a give-away. Hope you and others can stop by!
We love fruits,and most of the time we tend to have it as is. Ironically, just today I experimented for the first time with pineapple and made a Pineapple Mulligatawny Soup:
Thanks for mentioning that! That’s good to know.
I love your simple suggestions! Yummy! (I love pineapple too and grilled sounds wonderful!).
That sounds very interesting and yummy. Thanks for sharing. 🙂
I love gone several months on a no sweetener, no fruit, no sugar forming food diet and boy did fruit taste good when I first went off of it!
I can’t wait for peaches to get in season around here! I just love them!
There’s nothing better than a ripe peach grilled to perfection on the grill or in a cast iron skillet with a drizzle of honey or maple syrup and perhaps a few slivered almonds or some granola – MMMMMMMMM
Or what we’re having for dinner, strawberry shortcake. But not on those sickly sweet little round cakes, ours consists of: homemade biscuits made with freshly ground flour, homemade butter, buttermilk, and crystalized ginger. We crumble the biscuits in a bowl, pour on mounds of strawberries and then top it off with some raw milk – MMMMMMM. Summer fruit at it’s best, and not much added sugar just the little bit that’s on the ginger.
Fried super ripe plantains also make a delicious sweet finishing to a meal. Growing up in Colombia that’s what we ate, sometimes it was stuffed with guava and some cheese.
I had chilled papaya salad (slightly crushed Papaya+Walnuts) for lunch and it was a wonderful treat. The natural sweetness/juiciness of the papaya served as a dessert for me, who have been forever in Candida/Diabetic/low carb/no sweetener diet. 🙂 Will be having more of this in the future! Yes, fruits ARE a dessert. I totally agree!
Im a strawberry fiend, so yea, i think of it as a decadent, luxurious, indulgence that i LOVE from time to time.
I’m waiting for the blueberry season. I’m looking forward to making an all raw blueberry pie with an all fruit and nut crust.
I was born & raised in France, where my family & I always had a fruit at the end of a meal (whether raw or cooked).
I believe there’s nothing better than a naturally ripened seasonal fruit! A perfect natural fruit doesn’t need any added sweetener or frills.
Even when you walk into a bakery in France, you’ll find desserts such as “la tarte Normande” which is a specialty apple pie from Normandy, “la tarte tatin”, an upside down apple pie and various fruit pies (one of my favorite being pear on a bed of almond paste).
I’m currently cutting off sugar and sweeteners which helps my hypoglycemia tremendously but also makes me appreciate fruits even more.
If you have any cookbook suggestions for fruits and fruit sweetened desserts, please let me know ;).
KH: I want to visit a bakery in France! That sounds wonderful! 🙂 I have been getting a lot of ideas from different mediterranean cookbooks, and of course, French cookbooks might have some great ideas too. 🙂
thanks – great post and a good reminder!
I got on here this evening to find something sweet to make for myself for dessert – without feeling “too guilty” about eating dessert, read your post and went and had a banana instead!
Kinda off topic, but you alluded to it – sometime would you mind expanding a little on budgeting while buying good, quality food? So many emphasize the “great sales” going, but I don’t particularly want to stock my cupboards with Jell-o and Rice-a-Roni! I would love to heard your budgeting thoughts, even just in general if you don’t feel comfortable sharing the actual personal details of your family’s budget!
KH: That’s a great question! I hope to start talking about this more soon and I also hope that my new carnival starting on the 25th (Pennywise Platter), gives not only me, but others the chance to share our thoughts, tips and details on budget safe healthy meals. 🙂
Chiot’s Run – would you pass on your method of frying your plantains? We have
only done them with palm oil and habanero sauce – Liberian style. Eaten with the meal, not as the final touch. Looking forward to a new idea…
Fruits for dessert? Absolutely!
I very much agree with you that fruit should be viewed as a pleasure not a “health” must. Eating fruit is so very refreshing and in our family buying fruit doesn’t happen very often so it’s always a special treat when we have fresh fruit in the house. Thanks for your incite on that!
Stephanie @ Keeper of the Home
Yes, fruit really is dessert! Since my hubby has been on his new diet for a couple of weeks, in which he is allowed very little fruit and only in rotation, I have been missing out on it and even craving it. I don’t really care about the regular sweets or desserts that we’re not eating, but I realize now just how special it is to be able to enjoy fruits and dishes made with fruits! And truly, the more you learn to use sweeteners sparingly and avoid conventional sweets, the more that the flavor of fruit itself is enough and wonderfully sweet on it’s own!
The idea of fruit as a dessert reminded me of a family trip a few years back to Thailand. Vegatables were a huge part of each meal and every night after dinner, dessert was a plate or platter full of fresh fruit. Some familiar favorites like pineapple and others that were exotic and fun to taste and explore.
In my daily life, I keep fruit on hand as a snack since I’m prone to helping myself to the community jelly bean jar if I’m not prepared with my own snack. My all time favorite fruit dessert is strawberry shortcake. Most recently, I made homemade sponge cake. While I followed the basic recipe in my Better Homes & Gardens cookbook, it could easily be modified to include whole grain flower, and possibly even soaked grains as Kimi often talks about.
KH: Note to self, check out some Thai cookbooks!
Oh yeah. I love to bake clafouti with whatever is abundant and in season (though I make it with coconut flour instead of wheat flour, and just two tablespoons of sugar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, OR honey). Clafouti is traditionally made with cherries, but it’s perfect for peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots, strawberries, etc. And it’s superb for fruit that is slightly past its prime or became a bit banged up in the basket on the walk back from the farmer’s market (you know, the stuff the kids won’t eat because it’s not perfect anymore) because the fruit is enveloped in some eggy batter before baking.
I get a clafouti in the oven before I start dinner (it takes 10 minutes to assemble, tops), then I serve it warm for dessert, but the chilled leftovers are great for breakfast and mid-afternoon snacks, too. But I don’t see this as a “sinful” dessert, because what’s not healthy about fresh fruit, pastured eggs, and cream or raw milk in a relatively small amount of gluten-free batter that is just barely sweetened? You could even omit the sugar and mash or puree a really ripe banana into it instead (I’ve done that with baked custard, too).
KH: I have been meaning to make a clafouti these last few weeks. Thanks for reminding me of it! I also don’t think they are “sinful”. But delicious goodness. 😉
Love your ideas and fresh approach at looking at what should be obvious to us all, Kimi. You seem quite talented and I feel lucky to have stumbled upon your site! It feels like Christmas morning every time I see an email full of great tips and recipes… I really look forward to it and have been telling all of my friends they’d really benefit by subscribing to your newsletter.
Anyhow, my theory on why fruit isn’t observed as more of a dessert in this country is because it has always been marketed as more of a breakfast thing. Blueberries, strawberries, etc., in the cereal….a grapefruit, banana or orange with a slice of toast. Then there’s the orange juice…maybe apple juice or grapefruit juice too.
For me, sweet in the morning doesn’t cut it (I’d rather eat vegetables for some reason). I eat it anyway because I feel like I am “supposed to” at that time and of course my little ones love it. So we do always have it around and it does get eaten. However, I continue to view fruit a little more negatively as a result of associating it with breakfasts that I don’t particularly enjoy and don’t even really think twice about using it as an after dinner treat since, for me, it’s been so heavily marketed as a morning thing. Pies and tarts and shortcakes would be the exception and of course fruit in a salad is great, too, although most of those things involve a protein, fat or savory of some sort.
Your bit of history really is just a great, simple reminder that fruit really can be a special, sweet dessert treat on its own. It’s all about frame of mind. Like you said- it’s really a sad sign of the times. I can’t wait to talk to the kids in the morning about what Kimberly mentioned, too…that in Biblical times fruit and honey were considered dessert!
Is there a fruit council? Maybe they can “borrow” from the beef people and start a “FRUIT. It’s what’s for Dessert!” campaign!
KH: Thanks for sharing some great thoughts! Great comment. 🙂
I’ve always read your blog and just finally getting around to commenting!
We had our weekly family night last night, complete with dessert. Fresh strawberries, bananas, and mandarin oranges that soaked in a touch of apple and orange juice for about an hour. It was so simple and so delicious!
Thanks for all you do! You’re so inspiring!
KH: That sounds delicious and simple!
My favorite way is to mix lots of fresh fruits together like pineapple,grapes, oranges, grapefruit together with a little fresh orange juice and a splash of vanilla. and top it off with coconut. Which I call a Vanilla Ambrosia. This is a nice way to top off a meal with a lite refreshing dessert.
KH: Love the name.
We’re huge fans of fruit in our house. We tend to eat fruit at snack times instead of after dinner. Our children love to have apple slices with raw cheese in the afternoon, or fresh blackberries with cream. We’re also huge fans of juicy, ripe peaches when we can get them, and someone’s always got a banana in hand. When we do make a dessert it usually features fruit. I will confess that we absolutely love rhubarb/strawberry crisp and when they’re in season I do make the crisp with sugar. It seems to be our one splurge during the year. I figure eating sugared rhubarb two or three times a year is a fun treat for everyone. It’s like a holiday when we bring the first batch of rhubarb home.
I agree, Kimi–fruit it too sweet for snacking, but it’s the perfect finish to a meal! The natural sugars in fruit tend to make me crave more carbs, so I try to limit apples and berries (both low carb fruits) to a few times per week. They’re so refreshing during the warm season!
Thanks for the great thoughts and comments. I appreciate it! I have replied to some of you above.
I want to know what’s in that photo! Roasted bananas? It looks wonderful and I’m wondering how you did it.
When I got this post in my email blog there was an link to splenda and their recipes…was that a mistake??? On the fruit topic….I just cannot keep it in the house with 3 kids….I have no complaints because it is way better than what other kids snack on.
gfe--gluten free easily
So true. Remember that the oranges in the Christmas stockings were such a treat “back in the day.” I know that when I cut way back on sugar, an apple seems so heavenly in its sweetness. I’ve been enjoying apples, pears, and peaches in green smoothies (Ali’s recipe) lately. They add just the right amount of sweetness–no sugar, honey, etc. needed. Thanks for this reminder, Kimi.
Fresh, seasonal fruit is traditionally served as dessert in Morocco. When company comes, it’s protocol to follow-up the meal with a huge platter of a variety of fruits. For every day family meals, one or two fruits might be offered.
Honey is still used to sweeten pastries, cookies, crepes, fried flatbreads, etc.
I coulnd’t have written it better myself. Of course as a fruit farmer my views may be biased, but I agree whole heartedly. There are year round fruits that can enhance all sorts of dishes to add sweetness. I think that families viewing fruit like a sweetener has fallen by the wayside because most storebought fruit isn’t sweet at all. Granted they are the most beautiful blemish-free ripe-looking golf balls you will ever see – they have no flavor! Since our country now relies so much on products being shipped, fruits are bred to be rock hard. We have never believed in brokers and our fruit trees are 50 years old so we have all those old varieties developed before globalization was the buzz word in farming. I know what a challenge it is to get the fruit picked and get it sold before it gets too soft, but it is worth it. I had one lady, who had grown up on an apricot farm as a child, literally cry the other day when she bit into one of our heirloom Blenheim apricots. That kind of stuff makes the extra effort all worth it!!! So go the extra mile to find fresh REAL fruit, you won’t be disappointed!
What a great post! I wish everybody thought of fruit this way. I eat it all the time, and even I forget about it as a dessert option. My favorite fruit dessert…anything with peaches.
I’m more of a vegetable person than a fruit person. But there are some fruit desserts that I simply love and must make when the fruit is in season. Cherry clafouti, with the pits left in, is one. And apple pie is another. I love, love, love figs broiled with drizzling of olive oil, served with soft goat cheese and a baguette. My husband still insists on buying bananas, though we are trying very hard to shift to local eating. Every once in a great while I’ll make bananas foster for him, and then I have to join in. Speaking of which, what IS that diabolical looking dessert in the picture up there?
We’ve recently put in several kinds of berry canes around our property, and he planted grapes this year too. The few berries we get now are eaten straight off the vine. I think part of the reason I’ve become less and less interested in fresh fruit over the years is that the quality is generally so poor in the supermarket. Truly ripe fruit is a wonder, but it’s far too often picked early to survive the shipping and sitting around before sale. When I can get really good fruit, I love it. I suspect that as our berry canes and fruit trees begin to bear for us, I’ll be eating a lot more fruit.
How do you only print the recipe in the blue box? I too print alot of recipes. I only recently started using this site and love it. Thank you to the folks doing this work!
We eat ripe seasonal fruit and cream for dessert almost every night. Its delicious.