Fruit. It's What's for Dinner

With recent warnings about meat in mind, health blogger Dafna Amon offers ideas for making fresh fruit – including some exotic varieties – a major part of our diet.

Health blogger Dafna Amon in the kitchen.
Daniel Tchetchik

The growing debate over the dangers of eating meat, following the World Health Organization’s recent warning (can we say “we told you so”?), offers another good reason to meet with health blogger Dafna Amon. Her aim is to make at least one meal daily that doesn’t involve cooking or processed ingredients, and to base it as much on fruit as possible. Fruit is available in abundance right now, even guava and papaya, says Amon, though such items have yet to earn a central place in our daily diet.

Amon lives in Tel Aviv with her husband and their toddler son. She became a vegan five years ago, and when her son was born she made another change and switched to nutrition that comes primarily from raw food. The improvements she has seen since then – brighter skin, greater vitality, heightened senses and sharper thinking – spurred her to try to convince as many people as she can reach, through workshops, lectures and her blog, to eat more fruit. Not surprisingly, she totally rejects the advice of some nutritionists to avoid fruit because it can be fattening.

The sugar-apple (annona) is one fruit that suffers from low ratings, mainly because of its seeds. Amon happily takes apart a few sugar-apples and tosses the pits into the compost. “It’s funny,” she says. “No one complains about all the trouble of dealing with meat and fish. Having to get rid of tiny bones and the skin with fish, and of the fat and tendons and skin with meat. And sugar-apples are so pleasant to touch and so clean. It’s child’s play.”

Persimmons are often rejected because of rumors about them causing indigestion. “Nonsense,” says Amon, as she removes the stem and squeezes a persimmon out of its peel. “This rumor originated because people were eating unripe persimmons, and also eating them after eating a lot of white flour, dairy products, meat and sugar – It’s no wonder there was digestive trouble. The persimmons are not to blame. When they’re ripe they’re so delicious.”

Fruit as a main course

Next Amon wants to talk about why people should stop thinking of fruit as a healthy dessert and start seeing it as a main course. Amon believes the world was created in such a way that every living creature should yearn for the food nature provides it. Fruit is such a food. Unlike beasts of prey, we can’t eat meat as it is, without cooking and seasoning.

Also, fruit offers not just a wonderful mixture of taste, aroma, texture and color, but also rich, pure nutritional elements. There is no better source of vitamins and minerals than fruit, nuts and leafy greens.

In addition, fruit is rich in pure water and nutritional fiber. The delicate and soluble fiber acts like a vacuum cleaner, sucking up the toxins and waste that accumulate in the body. In the metabolic process, the body is constantly producing and removing waste, and fruit fiber helps pick it up. Amon says she used to have problems with constipation before she started eating fruit, and the buildup of toxins led to frequent throat infections.

Fruits and vegetables also help balance out acids, she says. The typical Western diet is rich in foods that create an acidic reaction: animal proteins, sugars, tobacco, coffee, tea, alcohol. Stress and tension also contribute to acidity. One meal of fruit a day can balance this out.

Another benefit fruit provides is energy, Amon says. The popular notion that a diet rich in protein provides energy is fundamentally mistaken, she maintains. Breast milk, the food most beneficial to development, has very little protein, and fruit is the food most similar in composition to breast milk. After a meal of fruit we feel full of life; after a meal rich in protein we feel weary and even a little weak.

Incorporating more fruit in your diet is also good for the environment. Physical health and the health of the planet go hand in hand. When you eat more fruit in its natural state, and consume less processed food, you’re helping to heal the environment.

Eat it when ripe

Amon also offers several suggestions for getting the most out of fruit:

It is best eaten on an empty stomach. Eating fruit in combination with other foods that require more time in the stomach means delaying digestion of the fruit until the digestion of the other foods is complete. This delay could cause digestive problems and feelings of discomfort.

Eat fruit when it’s ripe and in season. A common reason for not feeling well after eating fruit is that it wasn’t ripe enough. In that case it is hard to digest and produces acids in the body. A banana should be speckled, peaches should be soft, and the same goes for the sugar-apple, persimmon and guava. Eating fruit in season also saves money.

Eat foods in the right combinations. As noted, fruit is best eaten separately from other foods, though it can be mixed with leafy greens, as both are quickly digested. Fruits and protein are a bad combination. Fruits and starches also create ferment in the belly, leading to heartburn and discomfort. Fruit may be eaten with nuts, but then it’s best to soak the nuts first to make them more easily digestible.

And now, a few recipes:

Banona (banana-annona) ice cream

A sweet and delicious ice cream that’s a hit with children and babies too.

Banona ice cream. A hit with kids.
Daniel Tchetchik

Ingredients (serves two):

4 ripe bananas, peeled, sliced and frozen

2 sugar apples, peeled, pitted and frozen

1 cm vanilla bean

2 very ripe Fuyu persimmons

Make a cream with the two persimmons: Pull off the stems and squeeze the inside of the fruit into a food processor, then blend until a smooth cream is obtained. Set aside.

Place the frozen bananas and sugar-apples in a blender or food processor, together with the vanilla (If your machine isn’t that strong, you can substitute high-quality vanilla essence) and process until it has the texture of ice cream. Pour the mixture into serving dishes and decorate each serving with the persimmon cream.

Sugar-Apple Ceviche

The peeled slices of sugar-apple remind Amon of pieces of raw fish.

Sugar-apple ceviche. Good for you and the planet.
Daniel Tchetchik

Ingredients (serves two):

1 large sugar-apple, peeled and pitted

¼ cup sweet pomegranate seeds

¼ avocado, sliced

1 cup baby spinach leaves

½ cup sunflower sprouts

a small handful of chopped cilantro

a little lemon juice

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss very gently. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve with chopped hot pepper on the side if desired.

Cleansing soup

In conclusion, Amon wishes to share a recipe she learned at the Ann Wigmore Natural Health Institute in Puerto Rico, where she attended a cleansing workshop last winter. The main food eaten there is a raw soup conceived of by Wigmore, based on sprouts and leafy greens. In the morning you eat the soup with added sweet papaya or apple; for lunch you have it with raw sushi, and for dinner you can add avocado or almond cream, or yogurt made from seeds.

Energy soup (serves two)

Energy soup. Eat it morning, noon and night.
Daniel Tchetchik

1: Place in a food processor: 1 fresh, diced zucchini; 1 coarsely chopped fresh carrot; 1 cup filtered water. Process until smooth.

2: Add 2 cups sunflower sprouts; 2 cups baby spinach leaves or lettuce leaves or a combination of the two (look for fresh and tasty organic greens), and ¼ of a small avocado. Process until smooth (but don’t over-process). Pour into serving bowls.

3: Garnish with any of the following: fresh parsley and cilantro leaves, chopped green onion, avocado slices, dulse seaweed (available through the golmina website), drops of fresh lemon juice.