06/19/2015 06:04 pm ET Updated Jun 19, 2016

6 Creative New Ways to Enjoy Summer Fruits

Summer is peak season for many delicious fruits like strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, peaches and more. With so many wonderful choices, it's surprising that many people miss out on tasty ways to enjoy fruits all summer long.

Because fruits are sweet, many people think of them as dessert only, but fruit can add depth and flavor to salads and main dishes. Sweet fruits can balance out salty, tangy flavors, like mixing strawberries and feta cheese in a salad, or can mellow out the heat from chiles and other fiery spices, like salsas made with mango and chile peppers.

Less Sugar Than You Might Think
People with diabetes or who are concerned with sugar intake often think they should avoid fruit entirely. That's a big mistake! Fruit does contain natural sugar, but it also provides vital nutrients, antioxidants and fiber.

Many of the fruits that we think of as the sweetest actually contain very little sugar--for instance strawberries have just 7 grams of sugar per 1-cup serving, so they are lower in sugar than apples, oranges, bananas or grapes (Source: USDA National Nutrient Database). Like strawberries, many other sweet fruits such as peaches or pineapple, are lower in natural sugar than you might expect.

Fresh, raw fruits are a great way to add sweet flavor naturally to your meals: their vitamin, antioxidant and fiber content make them a valuable part of anyone's diet. Don't miss out on summer's best fruits! Here are some fresh new ways to enjoy ripe, delicious fruit this summer.

6 New Ways to Enjoy Fresh Fruit This Summer
1. Salads
Mix spinach or romaine lettuce with sliced strawberries, watermelon or melon. Add crumbled feta or blue cheese and sliced almonds. Toss with 1-2 tablespoons of vinaigrette.
2. Sandwiches
Replace tomato slices on your sandwich with thin slices of fruit. Try sliced peach with turkey and a spicy ranch dressing, or mix chopped grapes or pineapple with tuna, sliced green onions and light mayonnaise.
3. Entrees
Fruit complements meat, chicken and fish beautifully. Here's a great twist on a summer favorite: Strawberry Salsa Fish Tacos with Ginger Cilantro Vinaigrette.
4. Salsas
Blend soft, sweet fruits, like mangoes, strawberries or peaches, with chopped red onions, sweet peppers, chiles and herbs for a sweet and savory topping for tacos or a dipping sauce for chips and veggies.
5. Grilled or Roasted
A few minutes on the grill caramelizes the natural sugars in fruit for an extra burst of sweetness and crunch. Pineapple, bananas and peaches are great on the grill. For fruits that are too small or delicate for the grill like strawberries or cherries, try oven roasting. The flavors concentrate and the fruit softens, so you can use it as a topping for frozen yogurt or ice cream or spread over cheese and crackers for an appetizer.
6. Frozen
Freeze blueberries, strawberries, watermelon or peaches and use instead of ice cubes in iced tea, lemonade or sparkling water for a refreshing summer drink.

Fruits are nature's gift to us: they're the most delicious way to get the nutrients you need. This summer, enjoy your favorite fruits in new and unexpected ways at the peak of freshness. You'll be glad you did.