Thursday, August 23, 2012

Just Peachy

Hard to believe summer is nearly over. I'm not as upset by this as many of my friends seem to be, since I am more a fan of the fall season by far. I have had ideas for topics for appropriate seasonal foods for fall swimming in my head for months. It was far more difficult to find something for August. I chose peaches for their versatility and because I find them to be greatly overlooked in favor of more exotic fruits. Even though I am firmly on Team Nectarine if I had to choose, I came away with a greater appreciation for the peach after writing this article:

Just Peachy: Dissecting a Juicy Favorite

Some peachy recommendations from this RD:

1)    Blossom with versatility. Stretch your creativity and incorporate new uses for peaches in your diet, both as a whole fruit and as an ingredient. Be sure to eat whole peaches unpeeled (as in smoothies) since most of the vitamin C content is contained beneath the skin. (But see #6 below for an important caveat.)
2)    The eyes have it. The carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin in peaches help to protect eyes from macular degeneration, which is a major cause of blindness. It is especially important to add foods like peaches to your diet that contain these types of phytochemicals to help prevent eye diseases, particularly if you are at high risk for them. Try a Peach Chutney recipe to enjoy peaches when they are no longer in season.
3)    Go frigid for fertility. Frozen peach slices contain more vitamin C than fresh peaches and may result in higher sperm counts, due to the prevention of sperm agglutination (clumping).
4)    Run from the fuzz.  Named after the “nectar of the gods,” a nectarine is a peach that has naturally mutated to the point where trichomes are not produced by the skin, and fuzz does not grow.  Like regular peaches, nectarines are great baked or raw and you can easily substitute nectarines for peaches in most recipes if you prefer.
5)    Create a colorful plate. Make half of your plate fruits and vegetables at each meal: the more colorful the better. Including peaches (or nectarines) in salsa or salads can really make things festive. In 2011, the USDA replaced the well-known Food Pyramid with the more easily managed MyPlate. Serving size and food group needs vary by the individual, and you can determine your own needs by visiting the MyPlate site.
6)    Take a stand for organic. According to the Environmental Working Group, peaches are the fourth highest of pesticide-laden of fruits and vegetables, which means it makes sense in the case of peaches to splurge for organic. I encourage visits to farmers markets and local fruit/peach stands. To find a farmers market near you, visit the USDA website.
Even though summer is nearing its end, there is no reason you can’t toss in some juicy peaches and let those bursts of flavor and color extend the season, enjoying some health benefits along the way. And if you’re like me and choose to remain on Team Nectarine, I won’t have any problems with it whatsoever.

For my full article archive at OKRA Magazine, click here