Peaches- A seasonal favourite for healthy meals!

If I had to choose one favourite Ontario farm-fresh product during
the summer months, I would have to give it to peaches! Ontario peaches are a
sweet, healthy way to compliment a summer meal.

Peaches are little nutritional powerhouses, rich in Vitamins
C and A, and full of potassium, fluoride, and iron. The best part: one 100 gram
serving of peaches contains only 39 calories and zero grams of fat! That’s a
whole lot of nutritional benefit, without a lot of calories!

Served fresh or cooked, peaches are always a hit. Of course,
everyone knows the classic peach cobbler; this is probably the most common use
for peaches. But there is so much more that can be done with these sweet little
stone fruits.

During the summer, I like to keep my meals light and
healthy. It is an unfortunate coincidence that bathing suit season is also in
the heart of cocktail season, and I find the best solution is to keep my
caloric intake at a minimum without sacrificing flavour and style.

Here are some great ideas of how you can incorporate these
seasonal gems into your next meal.

Appetizers

Sometimes it can be hard to think outside the box when it
comes to ingredients, and home cooks tend to stick to what they know. However,
peaches are fabulously versatile, and can be used in savoury dishes very
easily. A bright, spicy peach chutney (recipe below) is excellent on crackers
with goat cheese or brie.

Peaches are also excellent in salads, and work very well
with mixed greens and any other additions you may wish to add. For a quick and
simple salad using peaches, see my recipe below!

Another use for peaches that I absolutely love is in
cocktails! Sliced fresh peaches make excellent ice cubes, and double as a
garnish in a fruity drink! Place a few slices into martini glasses ahead of
time, and place them in the freezer to make chilly, fruity drinks.

The Main Course

Peaches are exceptionally complimentary to pork and poultry,
as their sweet softness adds a delicious contrast. Pork tenderloin, stuffed
with peaches, walnuts and goat cheese is a definite hit! For a healthy meal option,
grilled chicken breasts go well with peach chutney, adding character and
flavour to your plate. Be experimental, and see what you can do with peaches in
the kitchen!

Dessert

The idea of peach pies and cobblers has been done to death.
During the summer months, I would much rather eat a lighter, healthier dessert
anyway. One of my favourite desserts ever is actually extremely simple- sliced
peaches, drizzled with honey and crumbled goat cheese. Although the combination
may sound odd, goat cheese and peaches work very well together, and the honey
adds a touch of sweetness without a lot of extra calories. For some added
colour and diversity to this dessert, raspberries can be an excellent garnish,
as is mint.

Sliced peaches, cooked with a bit of orange juice and sugar,
top ice cream beautifully. Simply slice 4-5 peaches, place in a sauce pan over
medium heat with ¼ cup of orange juice and 1 tbsp of sugar, and cook for ten to
fifteen minutes, until everything is tender and incorporated.

Try using peaches in your next meal, and see what you can do
with these amazing little nutritional wonders!

Peach Chutney

You will need:

10 peaches, diced in cubes

½ red onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1-2 habanera peppers, finely diced

½ red bell pepper, finely diced (optional, but adds extra
nutrients!)

1-2 tsp cumin

1 tsp salt

½ tsp white wine vinegar

½ tsp olive oil

2 tbsp apple juice

Method:

  1. In a medium sized sauce pan, over medium-high
    heat, heat the oil. Sautee onion, peaches, garlic, and peppers with the salt.
  2. Add the vinegar, apple juice, and cumin, and
    allow to cook down for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, and
    adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

Serve with crackers and soft cheese, or over meats for an
exotic summery flavour!

Mixed Greens with
peaches, walnuts, and goat cheese

You will need:

2 peaches, finely sliced

¼ cup walnuts, lightly toasted

4 cups mixed greens

2 tbsp goat cheese

¼ red onion, finely sliced

For the dressing:

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp honey

1 cup olive oil

Method:

  1. Whisk together the Dijon, honey, and olive oil.
    Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Using four large dinner plates, stack a handful
    of mixed greens onto each plate.
  3. Top greens with sliced peaches, goat cheese, red
    onion, and walnuts.
  4. Drizzle honey Dijon dressing over the salads.
    Serve immediately.
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