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What can I do with dried fruit?

A Plate Of Various Dried Fruits

Dried fruit is the ultimate portable snack and provides a host of health benefits that you won’t find in a bag of crisps. There’s a great variety on offer, providing a tasty way of getting more nutrients into your diet.

The process of drying fruit removes most of the water, making the nutrients more concentrated. This means that dried versions are considerably higher in fibre and minerals than fresh fruits, but they are also much sweeter. For a range of nutrients, try a combination of snacks. Dried apricots are rich in vitamin A (to help your vision and immune system) and potassium (to help keep your blood pressure low). They’re also a good choice for a sluggish digestion as they’re a rich source of soluble and insoluble fibre; one third of a cup of dried apricots provides more fibre than a whole orange and is way more convenient to eat at your desk. Cranberries, meanwhile, could help prevent urinary tract infection and reduce oxidative stress. Dried cherries are a great snack to take on the plane as they contain melatonin, the chemical which helps send us to sleep. Dried cherries contain even more melatonin than fresh cherries according to experts. For maximum benefit, eat them one hour before you want to nod off.

No added ingredients

Stripped of its water content, dried fruit is naturally higher in sugar than fresh fruit. This is great for providing quick energy for a long walk or gym session, but it’s best to choose an unsweetened variety to avoid sugar overload. One portion of dried fruit (equivalent to a heaped tablespoon of raisins, two figs or a handful of dried banana chips) makes up around a fifth of your daily sugar allowance – so just be sure you’re not trying to get your 5-a-day all in dried fruit! If you suffer from a food allergy or asthma choose no-sulphur dried fruits. Sulphur dioxide is typically used to preserve fruits but has been linked with food allergies and respiratory problems.

Recipes

Cranberry Rocket Salad

Good for: low-carb eaters Serves 2 * Available at Holland & Barrett

Method

Step 1 In a large bowl combine the rocket, cranberries, almonds and feta. Step Make a quick dressing by mixing the lemon juice, oil, vinegar, honey and mustard. Pour over and enjoy.

Apricot Energy Balls

Good for: a vegan gym snack Makes approx 15 balls * Available at Holland & Barrett

Method

Step 1 Whizz together the apricots, protein and coconut oil in a blender. Step 2 When it has formed a thick paste, add the ground almonds and syrup. Roll into balls and refrigerate to set.

Cherry Trail Mix

Good for: a pre-bedtime snack (walnuts and cherries both contain melatonin) Serves 8 * Available at Holland & Barrett

Method

Step 1 Heat the oven to 150ºC and line a baking tray with parchment paper. In a large bowl, mix together the walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and cover with the maple syrup. Step 2 Spread evenly onto the parchment paper and bake for 20 minutes. Step 3 When the nuts are cool, add the cherries and cacao nibs and mix together.
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References

Valentová K et al Biosafety, antioxidant Status, and Metabolites in Urine after Consumption of Dried Cranberry juice in Healthy Women: A Pilot Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2007 55 (8), 3217-3224. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17381122 http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/08/travel/08transcherries.html?_r=0

This article has been adapted from longer features appearing in Healthy, the Holland & Barrett magazine. Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP before trying any remedies

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