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Fruit fits in a low carb diet

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Low carb fruits

Fruit. Say the word and many people following a low carb diet sigh in wistful memory of sweet juicy snacks, juices and desserts. However, fruit doesn't have to be a memory on a healthy, low carb diet. The idea that you can't incorporate fruit into your diet is wrong.

Dispelling the fruit myth

Christine Senft, a nutritionist with Atkins Nutritionals Inc says it really is a myth that you can't eat fruit.

"Low carbers need to change their mindset about fruit in their diets," says Senft. She admits that this is difficult to do for people used to a low-fat diet where fruit is often a main component. She explains that the reason many fruits are severely limited is because fruit contains fructose, a sugar that acts the same in the body as sucrose, table sugar. She says that in the first phases of many low carb plans, including Atkins, fruits should be limited to berries, and foods that are botanically fruits such as avocados and olives.

Eat fruit wisely

"Think of fruit as a garnish or an ingredient instead of the main component to your meal or snack," she says. Following this guidance you'll be able to enjoy the flavors and health benefits of fruit without the sugar highs and lows associated with eating too much of it.

Dana Carpender, a low carb cookbook author, agrees with Senft, adding that when it comes to eating fruit you need to budget your carbohydrates.

"I use higher sugar fruits, like pineapple, as garnishes to flavor a dish, but I'll eat 5 or 6 big strawberries, a much lower sugar fruit, at a shot," says Carpender.

Too much fruit is too much sugar

Senft also cautions that for some people overeating on fruit can cause the same type of cravings and binging as overeating traditional high-carb foods such as bread, pasta and sweets. She recommends that new low carbers become familiar with the glycemic index for specific foods and learn how they personally respond to carbs.

If you have recently re-introduced fruit into your diet but find that your weight loss has stalled or that you've put on a few pounds you need to investigate the source.

Low carb golden rule

"The golden rule of plateaus is when in doubt, lose the treats," Carpender says. She adds that it's important to pay attention to rebound hunger, being hungry an hour or two after eating a lot of fruit. That doesn't mean you can no longer enjoy the occasional banana or orange (depending what's allowed on your plan), but it does mean, as Carpender advises, you need to better budget for the carbs in each serving and consider smaller servings.

Always eat your veggies, too

Both Senft and Carpender urge low carbers to eat liberal amounts of low carb vegetables. By incorporating more vegetables into your diet, you'll more than make up for any nutrient and fiber loss from eating less fruit. You'll also be increasing the amount of water you take in and in some cases many people find that a crisp salad can substitute for a crisp piece of fruit.

Fruits to choose on a low carb diet

If you are now ready to eat more fruits, or need to reconsider which fruits to choose, here is a list of some fruits to consider.

Berries: All kinds including strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and black berries.

Melons: Including cantaloupe and honeydew, grapefruit, peaches, plums and apricots.

Sugar-free fruit mixes: Carpender also suggests trying sugar-free, fruit-flavored drink mixes and syrups if you are looking for fruit tastes. She adds that these are great to add to plain yogurt too! Hood also has a new line of low carb juices and there are an increasing number of fruit-flavored low carb products coming on the market.

Don't shy away from fruit, but do be smart about enjoying it. Strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream are a perfect addition to a low carb diet. A wedge of melon served with a generous portion of protein-rich foods may be the perfect substitute for a starchy side and a treat all in one.

Low carb fruit recipes

Raspberry Pineapple Orange Slam

Ingredients:
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup raspberries, frozen
1/2 teaspoon pineapple-orange sugar-free drink mix
1/2 cup raspberry Diet Rite soda

Directions:
Combine everything in your blender, and run until smooth and well-blended.

Serves 1

Per serving: 11g carbs; 4g fiber; 14g protein; 1g fat; 158 calories

-- From Dana Carpender's Low Carb Smoothies.

Baby Greens with Grapefruit and Red Onion

Simple but superb, this delicate salad of contrasting textures and flavors goes well with just about any entree.

Ingredients:
2 small grapefruits, one red, one white
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons fresh tarragon, chopped
Salt and pepper
10 ounces mixed baby greens
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)

Directions:
1. To section grapefruit: Cut off the top and bottom of each grapefruit slightly, so they can stand upright on a cutting board. Using a sharp chef's knife, peel grapefruit skin off going from top to bottom, and circling the entire fruit, making sure to leave very little white pith behind. Using a smaller paring knife, cut out each segment from the white membrane. Squeeze out any remaining just from fruit when done, and reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons juice for dressing.

2. Add reserved grapefruit juice to a mixing bowl. Add mustard. Slowly drizzle in olive oil, whisking well, until well-combined. Stir in tarragon, and add salt and pepper to taste.

3. Add greens and toss gently with grapefruit sections, red onion and salad dressing.

Some grocery stores sell fresh supremes, citrus fruit sections without the surrounding white membrane, packed in jars in the produce department. You'll need about 24 sections for this recipe.

Serves 4

Per serving: 11.5g carbs; 2.5g fiber, 2g protein; 10.5g fat; 139 calories

-- Recipe courtesy Atkins Nutritionals Inc.

Gingery Grilled Chicken and Peaches

Ginger and rosemary give zing to mild-tasting chicken breasts.

Dressing:
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped finely
2 teaspoons granular sugar substitute
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup olive oil

Chicken:
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 2 pounds)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium ripe peaches, halved (about 1 cup)
1 medium head romaine lettuce, cut into bite sized pieces, or mesclun mix (6 cups loosely packed)
1 cup French feta cheese or mild goat cheese, crumbled

Directions:
1. For dressing: Combine vinegar, ginger, rosemary, sugar substitute, pepper flakes and salt in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil in a steady stream until dressing thickens.

2. Brush chicken with 1-1/2 tablespoons of dressing and let marinate for 1 hour. Set remaining dressing aside.

3. Heat grill to medium-high after 50 minutes of marinating. Season chicken with salt and pepper and grill for 15 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking time, until just cooked through. Remove chicken from grill and place on a platter to rest.

4. Place peaches, cut-side down, on grill for 5 minutes, until softened. Cut chicken on the diagonal into 1/3-inch thick slices. Cut each peach half into 4 slices.

5. Toss greens with remaining dressing and divide on four plates. Top each salad with one-fourth of the chicken slices and one-fourth of the peach slices. Sprinkle with cheese.

Serves 4

Per serving: 9.5g carbs; 2.5g fiber; 59.5g protein; 29g fat; 542 calories

Recipe courtesy of Atkins Nutritionals Inc.

 


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