While the bounty of summer fruits has ended, dried fruits offer a healthy alternative and are a good choice when fresh fruits aren’t available. Dried fruits are devoid of the water content that is so characteristic of fruits. Fruits are dried by drawing out the water content, either by sun-drying or using specialized machines. Once in their dried phase, the fruits can be stored for a longer period of time and continue to provide basic nutrients. Some of the most common dried fruits are apricots, raisins, plums, dates, prunes, cranberries, blueberries and figs.
Dried fruits retain all the nutrients that are present in whole fruits. They’re full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, iron, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus and sugar. The infusion of these nutrients helps in promoting overall health and keeping us free of diseases, as well as devoid of fatigue.
Dried fruits also are high in fiber, which lends to several benefits. Fiber helps to draw water into the system, bringing about effective digestion. Along with improving digestion, fiber also helps in cleansing the system by drawing out the layers of waste and impurities, which automatically prevents the onset of constipation and other diseases associated with bladder problems. This promotes great skin health, because the flushing of toxins leads to healthy and clear skin that is free of all skin conditions.
Dried fruits are infused with iron, which is an important nutrient for the promotion of health. Iron allows for the production of hemoglobin. This nutrient will promote the production of white blood cells which are important for fighting of diseases and preventing conditions like anemia, other blood diseases, fatigue and weakness in the body. Dried fruits are also packed with antioxidants which prevent the onset of free radicals, and have a high calcium content, which promotes healthy bones and teeth as well as better eyesight.
The consumption of dried fruits, in measured amounts, also helps with weight loss. The fiber in the dried fruit makes you feel full for a longer period of time, making it the perfect snack. Dried fruits also are one of the best options to choose before exercise in place of carbs, because they provide for steady bursts of energy and help to sustain a heavy workout.
The next time you’re in need of a healthy snack, try this healthy, fiber-filled recipe for fruit and oat cookies!
Fruit and Oat Cookies
1/3 cup coconut oil or vegetable oil
3 large bananas
1/4 cup agave syrup or honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup oat bran
1-1/2 cups mixed dried fruits, chopped
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. In a large bowl, mash bananas until smooth. Mix oil into the mashed bananas. Add the syrup or honey, vanilla and salt.
3. Stir in rolled oats, oat bran, dried fruits and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Flatten slightly. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating cookie sheets for even browning. Cool on wire rack. Store in tightly closed container in refrigerator. ••
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her Web site is www.divapro.com
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