Though there isn’t substantive research behind claims that Superfruits Save The Day by helping you live longer (seriously, be wary of such grandiose claims on food packing), some fruits are just plain better for you than others. In fact, there are a handful of fruits that nutritionists consider “super” thanks to high concentrations of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins and minerals, and eating one to two cups of these Superfruits a day can help keep your family in tip-top shape. These are five of our favorite so-called Superfruits, along with some of my favorite Superfruit recipes and the products that help make packing them for school lunch a breeze.
Superfruit 1: Mango
Mangoes are loaded with vitamin C, which I find especially important for our young students since they need a superhero strength immune system to keep sickness at bay during cold and flu season. With two-thirds of the vitamin C that children under 13 need per day packed into just 1/2 a cup of fresh mango, it’s clear that this tasty fruit helps get the job done. Plus? Yum!
Recipe: Mango Apple Salad
My favorite way to enjoy mango these days is in this Mango Apple Salad with Sugared Lime Zest that we found on Shutterbean. Lime and mango are a heavenly taste combo, plus you get the added benefit of apples, another one of our favorite Superfruits (see below). A tip when packing this salad for school lunch: Rub the apple slices with lime juice, too, to keep them from browning before lunchtime.
Recipe: Homemade Mango Honey Fruit Leather
When I can’t find deliciously sweet, fresh mangos, which does happen at some points through the year, you can use tart or underripe ones to make this Mango Honey Fruit Leather found on the site In Sock Monkey Slippers. One piece of fruit leather may not be all that big a serving of fruit, but at least it’s made with puree of the whole fruit, including fiber, vitamins and all. Just note that if your mango is really tart, just note you may want to increase the amount of honey you use.
Superfruit #2: Acai
Acai, a small, tart berry from Brazil, came to this country with a lot of marketing fanfare (as we all know from those awful, spammy Facebook sidebar ads). If you’re familiar with term Superfruit, you’ve probably seen it associated with these berries. According to some nutritionists, it actually does deserve the hype thanks to its super high antioxidant content. However because acai only grows in the Amazon rainforest, it’s not possible to get it fresh, which is the best way to reap the benefits of any Superfruit. Here are some notable alternatives.
Look For: Acai Berry Puree
The next best thing to fresh, is to buy frozen acai berry puree, available in many natural markets (and through our Amazon affiliate at this link). It can be mixed into yogurt or smoothies like any fruit, but bear in mind that acai tastes best combined with other, sweeter fruits, bananas, or by adding a natural sweetener like honey. Especially for kids. I’m not kidding when I called it tart.
Look For: Sprout Kids Acai and Berry Smoothie Smash
For a store-bought shortcut, you can add an acai squeeze pouch to your little one’s lunchbox, like this Sprout Kids Acai and Berry Greek Yogurt Smoothie Smash, also available through Amazon. No thawing, mixing or blending required.
Superfruit #3: Pomegranate
Like acai berries, pomegranates are widely considered to deserve their Superfruit status thanks to off-the-charts levels of antioxidants contained in pomegranate juice. Though eating the whole fruit provides greater benefit (it always does), this is one case where the juice delivers a powerful health punch. And there are definitely ways to get it besides Bols Grenadine Syrup in your kids’ Shirley Temples.
Recipe: Sprinkle Pomegranate Seeds Over Yogurt or Fresh Fruit
My favorite way to add pomegranate to a lunchbox is fresh from the fruit, which is in season from about September to February (pictured, paired with fresh pineapple). This isn’t an option all year around but, when it is, pomegranate seeds are great all on their own or sprinkled over yogurt. How’s that for an easy recipe? You don’t even have to worry about picking the pesky seeds from the fruit (a tedious job, for sure) — while in season, you’re likely to find packages of fresh pomegranate arils (like the ones from POM, above) already picked for you.
In the winter months, Woodstock Foods even sells frozen organic pomegranate kernels, so you can look out for those, too. Maybe even stock up now for when the fresh ones disappear from the produce aisle.
Look For: Plum Organics Mighty 4 Squeeze Pouches
If you’re going to go for pomegranate juice or a squeeze pouch for a lunch box snack, find one that isn’t also super high in sugar. We like the new Pumpkin, Pomegranate, Quinoa and Greek Yogurt Mighty 4 squeeze pouch by Plum Organics, which is easy to pack in a lunchbox, especially for pre-schoolers.
Superfruit #4: Avocado
You’ve probably always known that avocados were good for you, but did you know that they are a Superfruit? Did you even know that they are a fruit?(Fruits have seeds, veggies don’t. This is a favorite food fact in my house.) Avocados are loaded with healthy fats that do a world of good for our bodies, from helping to lower bad cholesterol to easing the absorption of other good-for-us stuff like beta-carotene. They’re also delicious. I mean, after all, they make guacamole.
Recipe: Mango Pomegranate Guacamole
We found these 5 amazingly awesome guacamole recipes a while back—every one of which would be great packed in a school lunch with tortilla chips—but it’s worth mentioning that the Mango Pomegranate Guacamole from A Cup of Joe is made with three Superfruits. Three! I think that’s what you call winning. If you want to keep it from browning in a lunch (or even in your fridge) the best tip is to pack it in a reusable container, then lay plastic wrap down over the top of the guac, pressing tightly along the insides of the container until there’s no air between it and the plastic wrap. Then you can pop the top on over that. A squeeze of lemon also helps.
Recipe: Avocado Honey Dip
If your kid isn’t into guac, well, I’m sorry. There is hope, though: I found a sweet Avocado Honey Dip at Weelicious. I love how this recipes treats avocado like the fruit that it is. Plus, served with pretzel sticks you can get that sweet-salty thing going. If that isn’t a way to enjoy a Superfruit, I don’t know what is.
Superfruit #5: Apples
Remember what they say about an apple a day? Well it’s no lie. One study in England even found that people who eat five or more apples a week (hey, that’s every school lunch for a week) have healthier lungs. The source of an apple’s super powers is in its skin—red or green—which is rich in a phytonutrient called quercetin. Sadly, peeling an apple is like handing the Man of Steel a clump of Kryptonite. However, even peeled, apples are a great source of vitamin C and fiber. Still, push for the skin.
Recipe: Apple Sandwiches with Almond Butter and Granola
I remain a huge fan of this recipe which makes a great after school snack, or a perfect lunchbox treat that replaces bread with apples. You’ll find the full instructions for Apple Sandwiches with Almond Butter and Granola on Garnish with Lemon, or if there’s no nut butters allowed at school, try Sunbutter made with sunflower seeds.
Recipe: Baked Apple Donuts
We’re no dessert rejecters around here, especially when fruit is involved. Check our post on 6 easy apple snack and dessert recipes for even more ideas that prove apples are great any time of day. And, if you eat enough good stuff, as we tell our kids, turn Superfruit into an indulgence like these Baked Apple Donuts from The Cake Blog. Now that does my body good.
One bit of advice about apples, though; they rank high on the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen List year after year because of the high pesticide residue found on that super nutritious skin. Of course organic produce can be expensive, so if you’re going to limit it to a few select choices, then apples should be at the top of your list.