Making fantastic fruit salad
The Wiggles, the wacky Australian Kid-friendly band, has won a worldwide following (and a mention in People Magazine's year-end round up of "most intriguing people of the year" for 2002) with a string of hits that includes my family's favorite: "Fruit Salad." The refrain goes something like this: "Fruit salad. Yummy, yummy." I couldn't say it better myself.
Here's what makes fruit salad perfect family fare: it tastes good, it looks great, it's healthy. It works for breakfast, snack or dessert, and, best of all, the kids can help make it. Even a toddler can use a blunt knife to slice a banana, points out California mom Denise Feinsod. "It doesn't matter if the slices are fat or thin, anything will work."
Denise's kids, ages 8 and 4, make fruit salad for their parents for breakfast on the weekends. "When they bring the bowl filled with all its bright color from the fruit to the table, they are so proud, they beam," she says. And pride in the creation will make the kids more likely to actually eat the fruit, too. The closest anyone in my family gets to consuming the FDA's recommended daily five servings of fruits and veggies is on a fruit salad day.
Here are some tips for perfecting fruit salad:
- Keep it simple: Don't get hung up on what kind of fruit; any will do. You can be thematic with Melon Madness (cube cantaloupe, honeydew, and watermelon), or Very Berry (strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries) or mix and match with whatever you've got. Remember: a citrus piece will add juice and grapes add color.
- Choose kid-friendly, not fancy, fruit: Sure, fresh pineapple is great, but unless your kids are big enough to handle a long sharp knife, an adult will have to core and cut it before anyone else gets involved. Denise from California recommends tangerine sections (little kids can peel and section them easily), bananas, apples and anything else you have around, say strawberries, or grapes.
- Add bananas last: Kris Sandine, father of two in New York, learned this trick from his mom: "If you wait until just before serving to put in the banana, they won't get brown."
- To preserve the bright colors, squeeze juice from a lemon, lime or orange over all the fruit: This is always a prized job among the young set.
- Don't toss the leftovers: Yes, the fruit starts to lose its color and get mushy by the next day, but instead of tossing it out, Daryl Chen of New York recommends sticking the remaining fruit in plastic bags and freezing for smoothies. "Take them out, add some frozen yogurt and a little juice, and voila! It's delicious."