Rachel de Thample

Rachel de Thample

Sugar is fast becoming public enemy No.1 and fruit – so long considered a healthy snack – is now firmly in the sights of many of the anti-sugar brigade. Here, Rachel De Thample, author of brilliant new fruit and vegetable book Five, tells us why fruit is still firmly on her’s son menu and shares some fruity recipes from her new book.

While fruit is coming under fire from the anti-sugar evangelists, it’s important to remember that our bodies do need a certain amount of sugar. Fruit is a wonderful source. Not only does it satisfy your sweet tooth, but it’s full of nutrients too.

I think it’s important to remember that a lot of things people think are vegetables are technically a fruit, like tomatoes, avocados and pumpkins. Here’s how you tell the difference: a fruit is something with seeds on the inside. So while not all fruits are equal in terms of sweetness, I think it’s unfair to universally vilify fruit as a group to avoid. Certainly, moderation is the key. I try not to have more than one or two portions of fruit a day and I try to keep my 8 year old son’s intake around that, too. But if he is really craving something sweet, fruit is the prefect option. It’s a pudding in its own right, the ultimate portable snack and nature’s finest sweetener.

Rory and I had great fun creating fruity recipes for my new book, FIVE: 150 effortless ways to eat 5+fruit and veg a day. In fact, Rory some of the recipes himself: his whole roasted apple with a quick and easy homemade gingerbread ice cream is just a dream. The ice cream is made with crème fraiche, honey and egg yolks so it is a lot healthier than any ice cream you can buy.

We had a fun creative session where we each came up with five flavours and paired each with a fruit. Rory’s gingerbread and roasted apple made the cut, though he voted my Salted Double Chocolate Almond Ice Crème (named by reference to the crème fraiche) with fresh raspberries his favourite.

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I also like using fruit in savoury dishes. A great way to get kids eating more veg is by pairing it with fruit. Rory came up a fabulous Jerk Lamb dish that is paired with a spiced onion rice and caramelised slices of fresh pineapple. We’ve called it Sunshine Rice.

Another very kid-friendly savoury fruit favourite from the book is chard dolmades with wild rice, grapes, feta and fennel with little fish. It’s magic to get little bursts of sweetness in a savoury dish.

I always assumed all kids love fruit but Rory has a few friends who are not quite so convinced. It’s fun trying to win them over to try new things when they come to our house. Another great way of enticing children to eat more fruit (and veg, of course) is by letting them get their hands dirty. Get them in the kitchen and give them a bit of a sense of ownership and control over what they’re eating. Asking them to come up with their own juices and smoothies is a great start: let them pick out a combo of ingredients and invent their own recipe.

Breakfast sundaes are another fun treat where kids can get involved and put their own stamp on the idea. I’ve offered five breakfast sundae recipes in the book, including the gorgeous Banana Peanut Butter Cup. The idea is simply to layer some fresh seasonal fruit with oats, yogurt and anything else you want to throw into the mix from spices, to herbs (think rose petals, lavender or even basil), nuts, seeds, dried fruits and more. When Rory’s friends come over I lay out a topping bar of different things and let them get stuck in. It creates a great mess sometimes but they do end up tucking in to a few portions of fruit so I’m happy.

They key, I think, is to make food fun. The following recipes will hopefully be a great way to getting them stuck in.

For Rachel’s delicious plum and liquorice jelly recipe click here and look out for the Banana Peanut Butter Cup coming next week…

Rachel de Thample has worked in the kitchens of Marco Pierre White, Heston Blumenthal and Peter Gordon. She is the author of Less Meat, More Veg, was Commissioning Editor of Waitrose Food Illustrated for five years and is currently the Food Editor for the organic box scheme Abel & Cole, where she writes weekly seasonal recipes. She has a son, aged 8.

Her new book Five: 150 effortless ways to eat 5+ fruit and veg a day (Ebury) and is released tomorrow and is available for pre-order on Amazon now.