Whether you’re craving sweet or savory this summer, consider choosing peaches the next time you are at store or farmers market.
“Peaches are a flavorful, nutritious fruit that peaks in July and August,” said University of Illinois Extension Educator Nayaab Sattar with SNAP-Education. “Peaches are rich in vitamins A, C, E and K, and potassium. They also contain fiber for better digestion and antioxidants to help protect the body against aging and disease.”
There are more than 700 varieties of peaches, but they all fall into two main categories; freestone and clingstone. Freestone peaches have flesh that doesn’t stick to the pit, so it is easy to remove the pit by hand. Clingstones have flesh that does stick, so it’s best to cut around the pit.
Sattar offers the following tips for fresh peaches:
- When picking fresh peaches, choose ones that have a sweet smell and whose skin will give slightly when gentle pressure is applied.
- Store these ripe fruits in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to five days.
- Firm peaches can be left on the counter or in a brown paper bag at room temperature until ripe.
Peaches are great to eat alone as a snack, but they also can be used in many other ways.
“One of my personal favorites this summer has been adding fresh peach slices to low-fat vanilla yogurt and topping it off with a sprinkling of granola,” said Sattar. “The only problem is it’s so good, I want to eat it for breakfast and dessert!”
Another idea is to make a sauce. Simply sauté two fresh peaches, sliced, in a skillet with a tablespoon of butter or margarine and a teaspoon of cinnamon. You can serve this over whole grain pancakes or frozen yogurt.
Peaches also can be used in more savory ways, such as a peach and mozzarella salad. In a bowl, toss 3 cups fresh peach slices, 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella cut into 1-inch cubes, 1 cup of torn basil, 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
“It may sound a little odd, but mozzarella is a very mild cheese so it works well with the sweetness of fruit,” Sattar said. “And just a little side note, if you have leftovers of this salad, don’t be scared to put some between a couple pieces of bread for a summer grilled cheese like you’ve never tasted!”
The summer months are a great time to take advantage of fresh peaches, but you can buy them canned or frozen for use year-round.
“Make sure to check the label and choose a product with no added sugar, or one that is canned in light syrup or 100 percent juice,” Sattar said.
If you want more inspiration for your snacks and meals, check out the Illinois Nutrition Education Programs website at go.illinois.edu/eatmovesave. There, you can find recipes such as Nectarine & Peach Fruit Salad and Orange-Peach Refresher.
The healthy choice, isn’t always the easy choice, especially on a limited budget. The Illinois Nutrition Education Programs provide practical tips to help low-income families prepare safe and healthy meals, while staying active each day.