“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?