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Winter: Prime Time for Festive Fruit

Add color and nutrition to your holiday table with these fruit recipes.

12 Festive Fruit Tips

Here are 12 tips for working fruit into your winter and holiday diet:

1. For a healthful finale to a holiday meal, toss fresh strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries with fresh orange juice, suggests Mitchell. "Add some candied ginger and refrigerate the mixture for a few hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend," she says.

2. Serve a mixture of fresh or frozen berries with a splash of liqueur (like Grand Marnier or Chambord) over a slice of angel food cake or light pound cake for a colorful, low-calorie dessert.

3. Citrus fruit (oranges, tangerines, clementines, grapefruit, tangelos, kumquats) can be cut up and combined for a medley of flavors and colors. Rouslin suggests adding a touch of honey for sweetness, and some coconut for texture. But there is more to citrus than segments, says Floyd Cardoz, chef at Tabla in New York and author of One Spice, Two Spice. "Adding the aromatic zests, segments, and juice of citrus fruits make simple braises, roasts, and vegetables seem more festive and flavorful," Cardoz says.

4. Rouslin likes to use the seeded pulp and juice from pomegranates in stews, drinks, marinades and sauces. You can also make a green or fruit salad look and taste more festive by sprinkling dark red pomegranate seeds over the top.

5. "Dried fruit adds interesting textures and acidity levels to help in flavor layering," says Cardoz. Easy-to-find dates and raisins are featured in many holiday dishes, especially bakery and dessert recipes. Rouslin suggests adding diced dates to salads, soups, and starchy dishes as well.

6. For a super-easy way to add flavor and color to any dish, be it stuffing, muffins, salads, or entrées, try dried cranberries in bags (usually near the raisins in your market). Or, choose dried cherries, which are also available at many supermarkets.

7. Although fresh cranberries are sour and hard when raw, they become wonderfully tart and chewy when simmered in juice or water with a touch of sugar or honey, says Rouslin. "Cranberries can be added to starch dishes, such as rice or couscous, for added color and flavor," Rouslin says.

8. Avocados add a splash of color and creamy texture to holiday salads, soups, appetizers, or casseroles. A decorative way of serving them is to cut avocados lengthwise into slices, then fan out the slices. Shrimp or crab salad is wonderful served in a pitted avocado half.

9. Kiwi fruit, while a bit pricey in winter months, are available in some supermarkets. They add a beautiful green color and fabulous flavor to any fruit salad or platter.

10. Thread bite-size pieces of colorful fruit onto a kabob or short bamboo skewer, and suddenly it's a party! Some fresh fruits that work well on skewers are kumquats, sliced kiwi, orange wedges, and imported grapes and strawberries. Pineapple chunks packed in juice and bottled cherries also work well.

11. Fruit with nuts is a match made in holiday heaven. Just adding a handful of nuts to fruit salads or desserts makes them more festive.

12. According to Cardoz, adding spices gives fruit complexity and complements its natural flavors. "Spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are great warming spices that have healthful benefits in winter," he says.

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