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Published August 10, 2012, 12:00 AM

Prairie Fare: Grilled fruit adds new flavor to any menu

“Mom, that looks like something you would do!” my 9-year-old daughter said with a laugh. We were watching a movie about kids and camping at the time. The kids in the movie wanted a snack as they sat around the campfire. The adult leader had decided to replace the usual ingredients for s’mores with something different.

By: Julie Garden-Robinson, INFORUM

“Mom, that looks like something you would do!” my 9-year-old daughter said with a laugh.

We were watching a movie about kids and camping at the time. The kids in the movie wanted a snack as they sat around the campfire. The adult leader had decided to replace the usual ingredients for s’mores with something different.

Instead of chocolate candy bars, marshmallows and graham crackers, the leader brought a bag filled with apples, pears and other fruit. Soon after, the young campers were grilling fruit on sticks. They only complained for a while.

“I’ve never tried that! Actually, that’s a pretty good idea, but I wonder if the fruit might fall off the sticks when it gets soft,” I commented.

I don’t think she enjoyed my response. She wrinkled her brow and looked at me. I bet she was thinking this might be an outdoor experiment in her future.

“Oh, Mom, I like chocolate, though,” she noted.

“You can add a little chocolate to the fruit. What kind of fruit should I buy at the grocery store this week?” I asked.

Eating more fruits and vegetables is a worthwhile goal for all of us, whether we are camping, at work or home. Although some people meet the goals, most people shortchange themselves on fruits and vegetables.

Think about your own fruit and vegetable intake. Are you eating at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day?

Not only do fruits and vegetables provide nourishing vitamins and minerals, but their natural antioxidants also serve to defend our bodies against environmental invaders. Eating abundant amounts of fruits and vegetables can reduce our risk for cancer, heart disease and other chronic diseases.

People generally eat more fruits than vegetables, though. We all are born with a natural preference for sweet foods. According to anthropologists, sweet foods usually were safe foods for our ancestors to eat. Poisonous foods often had a bitter taste and were avoided.

According to the 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey results, 23.5 percent of North Dakota children ate fruits two or more times per day during the week previous to the survey. Of those same children, just 8 percent ate vegetables three or more times per day during the week previous to the survey.

Among adult participants in the 2009 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey, about 75 percent reported eating less than one serving of fruit per day.

A serving is considered ½ cup.

Fruits add flavor, color and fiber to your menu. If you are tired of apples or pears, try grilling them. Liven up your outdoor grilling menus with these ideas:

- Cut a ¾-inch-deep slit down the length of an unpeeled banana. Pry the slit open and stuff with 2 tablespoons of chopped dark chocolate. Wrap the banana in foil and grill for about five minutes on each side.

- Sprinkle wedges of apple or pear with cinnamon and a touch of brown sugar. Grill for about five minutes per side.

- Brush peeled, whole bananas with canola or sunflower oil and add to the grill just until the fruit turns golden and has grill marks, or about five minutes per side.

- Grill peaches and nectarines for a side dish to go with steak or pork tenderloin. After cooking, the fruit can be diced and made into a salsa or relish by adding fresh herbs, chili peppers and lime juice or vinegar.

Here’s an easy recipe with a tropical flavor. Get more ideas about different foods to grill, including corn on the cob, by visiting http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/yf/foods/fn1420.pdf

Do you want to learn more about food preparation and preservation? Check out the new Prairie Fare blog at http://www.prairiefare.areavoices.com.


Grilled Banana Boats

1 banana with peel

1 tablespoon crushed pineapple

1 tablespoon coconut flakes

Rinse banana with cool, running water and pat dry with a clean paper towel.

Leave the peel on the banana and make a deep cut down the long side through the peel and into the banana. Do not cut all the way through. Slightly pull the cut apart to make a pocket in the banana. Fill the pocket with crushed pineapple and top with coconut flakes. Wrap the banana in foil. Place on a grill or near the coals of a campfire. Heat until warm, about five minutes at medium to high heat.

Carefully remove the foil packet from the heat. Let cool slightly and remove foil. The peel may be black but the inside will be warm and delicious.

Refrigerate leftovers within two hours.

Makes one serving with 140 calories, 2 grams (g) of fat, 32 g of carbohydrate, 4 g of fiber and 15 milligrams of sodium.


Julie Garden-Robinson, Ph.D., R.D., L.R.D., is a North Dakota State University Extension Service food and nutrition specialist and professor in the Department of Health, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences.

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