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Nature’s sweet surprises go beyond snack status, adding extra oomph to dinner, dessert and more. The next time you have a basket of fresh fruit waiting to be devoured, get inspired by one of these special twists.

1. Top off Breakfast

Start your day with something sweet. Add fresh fruits – think berries, peach chunks and mango or banana slices – to a bowl of Quinoa Porridge. Drizzle with maple syrup or honey to your liking. For a fancy and fast Maple Berry Parfait, layer yogourt, granola, maple syrup and fresh berries in a tall glass.

2. Make a Jam or Jelly

Add pizzazz to oatmeal, toast, ice cream or even braised meats with this Peach Freezer Jam that comes together on the stove top in just 30 minutes. Or make a No-Cook Tangy Blueberry Freezer Jam by crushing berries with cinnamon, sugar and the zest and juice from citrus fruits.

3. Pair with Cheese for Appetizers and Sandwiches

Everyone will gobble up these salty-creamy-sweet Prosciutto & Mango Bites with a centre of velvety soft goat cheese. For a quick snack, look no further than toasty Brie & Blueberry Grilled Cheese sandwiches that’ll be a sweet hit with kids and adults.

4. Make a Relish or Chutney

A fruit relish or chutney can convert an ordinary meal into gourmet dinner. For a Beet & Blackberry Relish, mix a cup of halved blackberries with grated beets and seasonings in a skillet. Once syrupy and cool, spoon this sweet-tart topping onto any grilled meat. Or fuse savoury and sweet with our Balsamic Peach Chutney: Fry sliced peaches, peppers, and onions in a pan, simmering until tender and the sauce thickens. Our favourite use for this recipe is served warm or cold atop pork chops or seafood.

5. Bake into Chips

Mango, banana, apple, peach, pear — all these fruits make deliciously crisp chips. Use a mandolin to slice your fruit of choice as thinly as possible, then place on a lined tray (don’t crowd or overlap pieces) and bake at 200°F until dried. Flip fruit pieces halfway through (after an hour and a half), then continue baking. A little patience is required, as the process can take up to three hours.

Round and unstable, mangos can be tricky to slice. Learn the proper technique in our How to Cut a Mango video.

6. Infuse Vinegar

Add a hint of sweet flavour to salad dressings and dips with this Easy Strawberry Vinegar recipe. In a heatproof bowl, pour boiling apple cider vinegar over a pound of sliced strawberries. After two days of steeping in the refrigerator, strain and store the liquid in a sterilized bottle. Fancy another fruity flavour? Go ahead and use any berry as a substitute.

Learn How to Core a Strawberry like a pro.

7. Whip into Vinaigrette

The next time you’re making salad dressing from scratch, throw in a few berries, melon pieces, passion fruit nectar or mango slices and blend away. Fresh fruit adds natural sweetness and vibrancy that brightens any salad. Alternatively, replace vinegar with orange or grapefruit citrus juices for a refreshing kick.

8. Use in Salads

You can win friends with salad! Make a delicious Summer Salad full of strawberries and apple slices, spinach and crumbled cheddar. Or segment navel and blood oranges to create an Orange-Chili Salad. With a medley of greens and hot pepper flakes, this dish will be the talk of the table. Another sure-fire hit is our Grilled Peach & Haloumi Salad.

9. Serve with Meat and Seafood

Our Pork & Pineapple Skewers will prompt your diners to give you a round of applause. For a main with a kick, serve barbecued Jerk Pork Chops with Tropical Salsa. Made with ripe mango and pineapple, the sweet salsa balances out the pork chops doused in Caribbean jerk marinade.

10. Top a Pizza or Flatbread

Put pizza on the table in 35 minutes thanks to this quick Grilled Sausage & Grape White Pizza that pairs hot Italian sausages with grilled sweet green grapes. Or serve Sausage, Onion & Apple-Topped Naan for a savoury appetizer.

11. Flavour Drinks

Beat the summer heat with a pitcher of Grapefruit & Watermelon Mocktail Cooler. Made with freshly pressed watermelon juice, mint and sparkling grapefruit soda, it’s a refreshing start to any gathering. Or whip up a Pomegranate Sangria using red wine, plums, blackberries, oranges and Pomegranate Italian Soda. Serve over ice and enjoy!

Watch our Mocktails: 3 Ways video and discover more great ideas.

12. Grill for Dessert

This recipe for Grilled Pineapple Skewers with Rum Caramel Sauce is swoon-worthy. For extra decadence, sprinkle with pecans or cashews, or dip the pineapple in melted chocolate. Grilled Fruit and Pound Cake is lighter and equally delicious: A mixture of peaches, pears, plums and strawberries tossed with brown sugar and ginger are caramelized on the barbecue, then served as a topping on the cake.

13. Chill for Ice Pops

Ice pops are a real crowd-pleaser in the summer. Cool down at the end of a meal with Watermelon-Mint Pops flavoured with honey-sweetened mint tea. Or spin the ever-popular pina colada cocktail into a kid-friendly dessert with our Pina Colada Cherry Pops that are bursting with fresh pineapple, coconut water and ground cherries.

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