Healthy Hack #5: Grilled Fruit for Dessert
Fresh fruit is abundant this time of year and is delicious on its own, but have you ever tried grilling it? If you haven’t grilled fruit yet, you are in for a real treat. The intense heat of the grill caramelizes the sugar in the fruit, bringing out deep, rich flavors and adding a fantastic texture to the fruit, especially with pineapple and bananas. So the next time you are looking for an easy, delicious, healthy dessert for summertime, throw some pineapple slices and banana halves on the grill for a special treat. Easy and nutritious, grilled fruit is a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of regular pineapple. But when this nutritious tropical fruit is grilled, it’s one of my favorites! Pineapple is a great source of vitamin C, B vitamins, fiber, and minerals like manganese. It is also packed with antioxidants and contains enzymes that can reduce inflammation and aid digestion.
There are lots of ways to prepare pineapple for grilling – round slices, spears, and kebabs. My preference is in slices because it’s quick and easy to prepare and handle on the grill. Choose a pineapple that is perfectly ripe, cut off both ends and the tough outer skin. Then cut the pineapple crosswise into slices. I leave the core in – the fiber-rich core is edible and is softened and sweetened from grilling. Grill the pineapple until the flesh has good grill marks and the surface is slightly caramelized. Flip the slices and grill the other side. Grill until they are slightly tender but not too soft.
Grilled bananas have a richly sweet taste and soft texture that changes the whole experience of eating a banana. Demonized during the low-carb craze as having too high of a glycemic index, bananas are actually very nutritious. They provide substantial amounts of potassium and iron and have antioxidant benefits and prebiotics for a healthy gut. Bananas are also good sources of fiber, vitamin B6, and vitamin C.
For best results and easiest grilling, choose bananas that are barely ripe. Cut them in half lengthwise, keeping the skin on. Grill on an oiled grate over medium-low heat.
Grilled fruit is naturally sweet and does not need any extra sweeteners, so I’m not sure why so many recipes insist on pouring brown sugar, honey or maple syrup on top of the fruit. But, it is fun to experiment with other ingredients to vary the flavors, such as adding some cinnamon or nutmeg, unsweetened coconut flakes, chopped nuts, even a sprinkle of unsweetened cocoa powder. You can also squeeze a bit of citrus over the fruit, drizzle it with yogurt or some rum or bourbon, and garnish it with fresh mint or basil.
ALSO! Grilled fruit is not just for dessert, especially pineapple! I love adding a grilled slice to a veggie burger or chopping it up to add to salads and salsas. It makes a great side to any grilled entrée and adds wonderful sweetness to a plate full of grilled vegetables. For a spicy variation, sprinkle the pineapple with chili powder or cayenne pepper for some delicious heat.