Fruit is a healthy way to start the day and to fuel your body between meals. Fresh fruit provides a variety of vitamins and minerals including folic acid, vitamin C, and potassium – and every piece of fruit contains a big dose of dietary fiber to help regulate your digestion.
Bananas, apples, and oranges are all easy to transport and don’t require any preparation before eating. But fresh fruit isn’t the only way to go; dried fruit can also be useful (and versatile) as well, especially for snacks and making easy recipes like raw fruit and nut bars, and even homemade granola. Though high in sugar, when eaten in moderation, dried fruits have their place in a person’s diet.
Dried fruit can also help fuel a workout and add nutrients and flavor your meals, even in small amounts. One thing you might not expect dried fruits to provide you with are tasty condiments that you can keep on hand to invigorate your meals by adding texture and attitude!
Here are five options to try today:
Dates – Simple Syrup
Rich in minerals, dates pack a lot of natural sweetness and fiber, which makes them a healthy alternative to traditional pancake syrup.
To make Simple Syrup with Dates:
Start by soaking a cup of dates in a cup of warm water for about an hour to get them soft and squishy. Then:
- Add the dates and their soaking water to a blender or food processor, along with an additional cup of water.
- Blend the dates and water until the mixture becomes syrupy.
- Transfer the syrup to a sealable container.
The syrup keeps well in the fridge for a few days between uses. If you like you can add a flavor to the mix before blending such as a drop of maple or vanilla extract, a teaspoon of cinnamon, or even a small handful of berries.
Blueberries – Berry Jam
Dried blueberries are a bit tart, but sweet enough to keep popping them into your mouth like they are candy. They can be added to salads, smoothies, and even sandwiches for an added punch of flavor and nutrients. They can also be turned into super sweet berry jam that is delicious enough to gift your friends and loved ones on special occasions.
To make Berry Jam, here is what you’ll need:
- ½ cup dried blueberries
- ½ cup dates, unsoaked
- ½ cup fresh water
- ¼ tsp salt
Simply blend the ingredients together in your blender, stopping to push the mixture down the sides of your container toward the blades once in awhile. It’s ok if the jam has chunks in it (it tastes fabulous!), but if you spend a few minutes blending and pushing you can attain a smooth and creamy jam. Serve this over raw bread, crackers, or use it on top of oatmeal or on a sandwich.
Coconut Flakes – Cream Cheese
Coconut flakes contain healthy fats, and they lend lots of depth to both savory and sweet dishes. Their flavor is distinctive, but they can easily be used in both sweet and savory recipes. Coconuts flakes even make great vegan cream cheese with a twist that satisfies your personal taste preferences.
To make Cream Cheese With Coconut Flakes:
- Soak 1 cup of coconut flakes in ½ cup water for about an hour.
- Blend the coconut flakes and water together with a half teaspoon of salt on high speed until creamy.
- Transfer the cream cheese to a small container and fluff it with a fork by stirring it vigorously for about a minute.
- Cover and refrigerate for about an hour to firm the cream cheese up.
To add an incredibly tasty twist to your coconut cream cheese consider adding a bit of lemon juice, cinnamon, chives, dill, a couple of dates, a couple drops of vanilla extract, or even some cacao powder to the mix before you blend your coconut flakes up.
Mulberries – “Granola” Topping
If you have ever had fresh mulberries from a tree, you know just how soft and juicy they are. But this isn’t the case once they have been dried. Dried mulberries have a crunchy consistency that can be enjoyed in cereals, pie crusts, and as “granola” over ice cream or mixed in soy or almond yogurt. All you have to do to make mulberry granola come to life is to pulse a handful of them in your food processor to break them into small pieces.
That’s it! You can get a little fancy by pulsing almonds, walnuts, or coconut flakes with the mulberries. You can also make the “granola” by hand – put your mulberries in a plastic sandwich bag, close it, and use a wooden spoon or hammer to break them up into little pieces.
Take the time to make these delicious condiments, and you’ll find a whole new love for dried fruit. You’ll probably come up with plenty of your own concoctions along the way!
Image Source: Daniel R. Blume/Flickr