As springtime rolls around, I start to get very excited about new fruits and veggies that come into season. Although I love my apples, citrus fruits, and dark greens, I want some new colors in my life. What better way to start of the season with a bang than some bright, vibrant, and delectably cute orange sweeties: the apricot.
Why have you done a good thing?
Not just mini peaches, an apricot’s puckery yet sweet taste is a perfect addition to a healthy spring diet. Apricots, due to their beautiful orange color, are packed full of vitamin A (in beta-carotene form), a powerful antioxidant that protects you from oxidative damage such in heart disease or cancer. In particular, beta- carotene helps promote healthy eyes and good vision, fighting off macular degeneration and night blindness. Vitamin A is also great for skin conditions, such as acne or eczema. Apricots are also a great source of fiber (3 g for 3 apricots), as it has a great balance of pectin and cellulose, giving apricots a slight laxative effect. As apricots also are a great source of vitamin C, pairing apricots with a rich source of iron, like spinach, would help to boost the absorption of iron and fight anemia. Apricots are also loaded with potassium, helping to regulate blood pressure. Plus, as one apricot is only 17 calories, a serving size can be 2 or 3 of them, making them a very satisfying dessert or snack!
How to pick an apricot
Apricots are now in season from May until August. Choose apricots that are bright in orange color, not yellowish. The fruit should be slightly soft like a peach to the touch but not mushy. You can speed up ripening when you come home from the store by placing apricots in a brown paper bag for a couple of days.
How can you eat apricots?
- Add sliced apricots to your oatmeal
- Add dried or fresh apricots to your whole grain pancakes and low-fat baked goods
- Simmer with cinnamon and water and make a fresh apricot sauce to pour over chicken (for a Middle Eastern flavor) or low-fat frozen yogurt
- Puree peeled apricots for a delicious Bellini
- Sautee fresh apricot slices in your next chicken or fish dish
And my new obsession, grilling fruit! Really brings out the sweetness…
- Grill apricots and add them to anything: salads, sandwiches or homemade pizza with a tangy cheese like low-fat goat cheese
Grilled Apricots (click here for a printable recipe and grocery list)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp honey
6 fresh apricots, halved with pit removed
Pinch of salt and pepper
Preheat your outdoor grill or indoor grill pan. Combine oil and honey. Gently brush mixture onto apricots. Place on hot grill cut side down for 2 minutes. Remove from grill and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let cool and slice to add to anything you like!!
--Amy Santo, MS RD CDN