BakedPeaches

Everyone loves baked apples in the fall, so how about trying baked peaches in the summer?

After all, eating like a locavore — according to what’s in season locally — keeps our diets fresh and healthy! Food that is – in season – is less costly, has higher nutritional value and is better for the environment. Seasonal, local and regional produce isn’t trucked around, stored or processed as much as imported varieties. Check out your local farmers market to find out what’s growing in your neck of the woods!

Here’s why I like to bake fruit:

Layne’s Baked Peaches With Ricotta Cheese

Choose organic ingredients when available:

For the peaches:

4 large *ripe peaches (about 1 1/4 pounds), rinsed, wiped clean of fuzz, halved, pitted

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1-tablespoon coconut water

1-tablespoon pure maple syrup

1/8-teaspoon nutmeg

For the sweet ricotta cheese:

1-cup part skim ricotta cheese

1-tablespoon apricot or peach all-fruit preserves

1/4-teaspoon ground cinnamon

Fresh mint for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 175 degrees Celsius. In a medium bowl, combine lemon juice, coconut water and maple syrup. Roll the peach halves in the mixture. Arrange peach halves, cut side up in a baking dish. Loosely cover the pan with foil and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until tender. While the peaches are baking, place ricotta cheese in a medium-sized bowl. Fold in the apricot preserves and set aside.

When the peaches are ready, serve with a 1/4-cup of the sweet ricotta and sprinkle with cinnamon. Garnish with optional fresh mint.

Serves 8 (1 half peach per serving)

* Make sure peaches are ripe! You can ripen peaches by placing them in a loosely sealed brown paper bag on the counter. The peaches give off ethylene gas — a natural component in fruits and vegetables, which is then trapped inside the bag causing the fruit to ripen faster.

Nutrition facts per serving 118 grams: 90 calories, 4.3 g protein, 1.2 g dietary fiber, 13 grams carbohydrate, 40 mg sodium, 2.7 grams fat, 198 mg potassium, 10 percent DV vitamin C.

For more fruit-based snack and dessert recipes, pick up a copy of my award-winning diet lifestyle and cookbook: Beyond The Mediterranean Diet: European Secrets Of The Super-Healthy.