Where To Find Them, How To Eat Them
There is absolutely nothing better than a perfectly ripe piece of fruit eaten at the peak, in season. Nowadays most fruits are available year round in local grocery stores, and that means that most of us are eating our favorite fruits all the time and experiencing less variety. It’s just human nature, if you like strawberries and they are available you will probably buy them instead of apples or pears. There are a lot of nutritional benefits to adding more fruit variety to your diet and I challenge you to be more adventurous and take advantage of some delicious fruits that you might never have heard of.
One of my favorite places to find interesting fruits are Asian and International markets, but check the your local grocery for unusual seasonal fruit additions. I look for Dragon Fruit, Prickly Pear, Cherimoya, Passion Fruit, Star Fruit and pretty much anything that looks exotic. Some of these fruits are best eaten raw, as a topping or in fruit salads, others have seeds or pits and benefit from straining and,or cooking.
Taste – Cherimoya is often referred to as the custard apple and tastes like a combination off pineapple, banana, strawberry peach and papaya-WOW!
Health Benefits – Zero saturated fat, cholesterol-free, high in fiber, iron, and niacin, and contains vitamin C, a natural antioxidant that helps the body resist infection, as well as B vitamins. Contains more minerals per weight than many more common fruits because of its copper, magnesium, iron and manganese content.
Eat -The best way to eat a cherimoya is to tear or cut it in half, remove the seeds and eat in slices or put in a fruit salad.
Taste – Dragon Fruit, also known as Pitaya, is similar in texture to kiwi and has a mildly sweet taste like kiwi, watermelon and pear combined.
Health Benefits – High in phytonutrients, rich in antioxidants and contains vitamin C, polyunsaturated fatty acids, and several B vitamins for carbohydrate metabolism, as well as, carotene and protein. Because Dragon Fruit has zero complex carbohydrates, it is be more easily broken down in the body with the help of vitamin B1 (thiamin) and the other B vitamins.
The seeds of dragon fruits are high in polyunsaturated fats (omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids) that help to reduce triglycerides and lower the risk of cardiovascular disorders.
Eat – Dragon Fruit is delicious raw, just cut in half and scoop out the flesh. Can be used in smoothies, fruit bowls and is also tasty grilled.
Taste – Passion fruit is distinctly sweet and tart, with a jelly like texture.
Health Benefits – Rich source of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and fiber. Each fruit has about 100 calories. High in Vitamin C & A as well as potassium, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus.
Eat – Simply cut in half and eat the jelly like filling with a spoon. Delicious spooned over soft cheeses, on yogurt or as a dessert topping. Can also be used in baking and made into a flavorful syrup for use in drinks and sauces.
Taste – Similar in flavor to watermelon.
Health Benefits – Loaded with dietary fiber, vitamin C, calcium and antioxidants. Has been used for centuries as a home remedy for headaches due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Eat – Because of the small rock like seeds it is best to puree and strain the delicious flavorful juice. The strained juice can be used in marinades and grill sauces and it makes a tasty addition to drinks and can used to flavor baked goods.
Taste – The tart little berries have the texture of cherry tomatoes and a pleasantly acidic mango like flavor.
Health Benefits – Low in calories and loaded with vitamin C and other beneficial antioxidants. Especially high in flavones and anthocyanin that are helpful in preventing cancer and neurological diseases.
Eat – Can be used substituted for cherry tomatoes or cooked and used in desserts. Makes an especially delicious salsa that is tasty with grilled meats and seafood.
So, get inspired and add some sexy new flavors to your diet, with delicious and nutrient dense exotic fruits that your palate and your body will love.
The Cape Gooseberry is also known as the Peruvian cherry and it is native to South America. Gooseberries are high in antioxidants and vitamin C making them a delicious healthy choice to add to salads, sauces and make into salsas.
- 1½ pints Golden Gooseberries
- ⅓ cup chopped red onion
- 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- In a food processor, first combine onion, garlic and cilantro, pulsing on an off until combined. Add tomatoes and lime juice. Pulse to blend. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Serve with cut vegetables as a dip, chips or as a sauce for grilled meats and seafood.
Prickly Pear is beautiful and delicious, it is the fruit of the flat paddled Nopales cacti and grows throughout the American West. Prickly Pear has anti-inflammatory properties, is beneficial for digestion and has long been used as a homeopathic treatment for headaches and hangovers. Because it has tiny hard seeds, the best way to prepare it is by cutting in half and straining it through a sieve. The stunning and tasty pink juice can be used in cocktails, syrups and sauces. 1 pound of prickly pears will result in about a cup of strained puree.
- ½ C Prickly Pear Puree - 3 prickly pears halved and strained
- ½ C unfiltered cider vinegar
- ¼ C Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 stalks celery chopped
- 1 large shallot or small onion chopped
- 1 clove smashed garlic
- Squirt of lemon juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Add all ingredients except pear puree, lemon and salt and pepper to a small sauce pan and simmer over medium heat for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
- Remove from heat and let rest10 minutes.
- Puree in food processor and return to sauce pan. Add puree and simmer 5 minutes.
- Add squirt of lemon and salt & pepper to taste.
By mid morning, or mid afternoon on any given day, each one of us is minutes away from plummeting blood sugar that can cause us to become hangry and unfocused. Breakfast got skipped, you were running around through lunch, some unforeseen emergency popped up, and nutrition was the last thing on your mind.
In a perfect world we would have the antidote for this potential disaster tucked away in a purse, pocket or backpack. An avocado, organic apple, maybe baggies with walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts, a couple of clementines, a hard boiled egg or a container of fresh blueberries. In the real world, survival of the fittest depends on navigating the mini-mart, CVS, grocery store or Trader Joe’s, with the foraging skills of a nutrition hunter.
The trick to keeping your superpowers in peak form is to avoid prepackaged snacks that trigger the biggest surge in blood sugar. That means anything made with refined flour (breads & cereals); starches like potatoes, corn and rice; and most dangerous of all liquid carbs like soda, sugary or artificially enhanced drinks, and fruit juices. The best prepackaged foods will be high in fiber, low in sugar and sodium, have beneficial healthy fats and pack a protein punch. Armed with this information you can find healthy-ish prepackaged snacks just about anywhere.
Crunchy Chick Peas:
You can find packages of crunchy chick peas in most grocery and health food stores. Look in the international food section or with the snacks. When you want something crunchy, salty and health friendly, reach for high fiber, high protein crunchy chick peas.
– Chick peas are a legume that is an excellent source of cardio protective fiber (soluble and insoluble) Fiber makes you feel fuller, helps to lower blood cholesterol, reduces blood pressure and aids in digestion. 1/4 cup has 5 grams of dietary fiber and 130 calories.
-High in protein. 1/4 cup of crunchy chick peas has 6 grams of protein.
-Good for your bones, chick peas contain the minerals folate, magnesium, calcium, iron, phosphate, zinc, manganese and vitamin K. All important for bone structure and strength.
Organic Cheese Sticks:
I know some people want to avoid dairy, but organic, non GMO cheese sticks are simply a great source of protein, calcium and vitamin D. Easy to find and tasty to eat, cheese sticks help to dispel that hangry feeling for only 80-100 calories a stick and are packed with 8 grams of protein. A solid choice when foraging for prepackaged snacks.
-Dairy is a great source of calcium and protein. Protein helps to satiate hunger and build strong muscles. Calcium is a essential mineral for bone strength as well as muscle and nerve function.
-Cheese sticks have a healthy dose of vitamin D, which is an important nutrient for bone health and key in the absorption of calcium.
-Added benefit, saturated fat helps you to feel full longer!
Chia Seed Pudding or Squeeze:
Chia seeds are the tiny wonders of nutrition. Inexpensive, high in omega-3 fatty acids, high in fiber and filled with protein, they are a versatile source of vegetable protein and fats. Most grocery stores carry chia seed pudding in the refrigerated section near the yogurts (comes with a little spoon for easy eating). You can even get Chia Squeeze, a chia pudding that requires no refrigeration and you eat it like Popeye squeezing spinach out of a can.
-Amazingly high in omega-3 fatty acids 1200mg per Chia Squeeze.
-Low in calories 80-100 per chia pudding or squeeze.
-High in protein 2g per tbsp.
-Vegan and gluten free
-Delivers a massive amount of nutrients and fiber for very few calories.
Unsalted Raw Pistachios & Almonds:
I happened to be in CVS and checked to see what prepackaged healthy-ish foods they carried, and found this gem. We all know that there are many benefits associated with almonds, and other nuts with brain boosting omega-3s, but did you know pistachios bring overall health benefits to the party too.
-Pistachios help improve the nervous system with vitamin B6.
-Pistachios contain a lower calorie content than other nuts but have a higher protein content.
-Pistachios have one of the lowest fat contents compared to other nuts and are an excellent source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids.
-Combination of raw pistachios and almonds will fill you up with fiber and healthy fats, while bringing blood sugar into check and boosting the brain with omega-3 fatty acids and B6..
This might be my absolute favorite prepackaged healthy drink. Because most of our food is homogenized, pasteurized, irritated and processed, almost all of the beneficial healthy bacteria has been removed or killed before it can get in to our digestive system and power up our immune health. The Standard American Diet ( SAD) is woefully low in important dietary fiber. Fiber is key for proper digestion and prebiotic fiber is necessary for probiotic benefit, as it serves as the foundation for the gut biome. Kombucha is a fermented tea beverage that is low in calories, low in sugar, high in probiotics and delicious. Widely available and the best way to get refreshed and improve your health at the same time.
-Recharges your body with beneficial polyphenols. Polyphenols are plant chemicals that work as antioxidants to protect the body.
-Contains electrolytes which improve blood acidity (pH), muscle function and hydration.
-Fermented foods are the cornerstone of a healthy immune system
Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds:
This is only if you are having a serious chocolate emergency. 13 dark chocolate covered almonds are better for you than a Snickers Bar. There are only 210 calories and 14 grams of sugar in those chocolate almonds and if it satisfies your sweet tooth, than go for it to prevent a sugary disaster!
The best advice I can give you is to become a label reader. If there are more than 10 ingredients you are probably in trouble, if you don’t know what most of the ingredients are you are definitely in trouble, if the amount of sugar is above 10g you might be in trouble, if it is contains gluten you are in a world of trouble. The name of the prepackaged snack game is to look for protein, healthy fats, fiber, nutrients and most importantly… to avoid ingredients that cause inflammation in the body.
- 1 pint strawberries
- 12 oz dark chocolate
- 1 cup white chocolate chips or a little tube of white frosting
- pastry bag with fine tip or heavy duty plastic zip bag
- Melt chocolate either in a double boiler or in a glass bowl in the microwave-30 second intervals, stirring between until melted and smooth.
- Dip washed and fully dried strawberries completely in melted dark chocolate and place on a sheet of waxed paper to cool.
- Melt white chocolate either over a double boiler or in the microwave. Let cool for a few minutes and then put in a pastry bag with a fine tip or in a heavy duty plastic bag. If using the bag cut a very small hole in the corner of the plastic bag and pipe white football
- ½ a sweet onion diced
- 1 cup canned pineapple chunks with ¼ cup juice
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 2 tsp liquid smoke
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 3 tbsp mild chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 2tbsp olive of safflower oil
- 8oz tempeh, cut into 1-inch long strips
- 3 cups shredded raw sweet potato
- 2 tbsp Bragg’s aminos or soy sauce
- Corn tortillas
- Toppings, chopped green onions, jalapeños, cilantro, pineapple salsa, queso fresca, diced avocado or sour cream mixed with chili powder
- Place onion, pineapple, lime juice, chili powder, liquid smoke, smoked paprika, cumin, and oregano in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Let rest.
- In a large skillet, warm oil over medium heat. Add tempeh and sauce for 2 minutes, fold in sweet potato and sprinkle with the Bragg’s or soy sauce. Cook 3-5 minutes until sweet potato softens.
- Pour the sauce from step 1 over the tempeh and sweet potato mixture and cook 3 minutes stirring gently.
- Warm the tortillas and then fill ⅓ full with tempeh and sweet potato mixture and garnish with toppings of choice.
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 cauliflower, chopped into florets
- ½ lb butter
- 4 cloves grated garlic
- 6 tbsp Louisiana hot sauce
- Purchased blue cheese dressing
- Mix panko with garlic and onion powders.
- Mix grated garlic with melted butter and hot sauce to combine.
- Take cauliflower pieces and dip one by one into butter hot sauce then dip into Panko coating evenly. Spray tops lightly with cooking spray
- Bake at 375 20-25 minutes until crispy.
- Drizzle with blue cheese dressing and serve with celery stix.
- Buffalo Sauce
- Melt butter, add grated garlic and hot sauce and mix continuously until well incorporated.
- 2 cups finely chopped romaine leaves
- 2 avocados mashed with a squirt of lime and a shake of garlic salt
- 1 cup plain greek yogurt mixed with 2 hefty shakes chili powder
- ½ cup spicy black beans drained
- ½ cup chopped tomatoes with 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- ½ cup sliced black olives
- ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese
- Place chopped romaine in the bottom of a clear glass bowl - you can use any bowl but it’s so pretty in a clear one.
- Layer on avocado mixture smoothing the top.
- Add yogurt mixture and smooth.
- Top with black beans and then tomato mixture.
- Finally layer is cheddar cheese with the olives are sprinkled on the top.
- Serve with Lentil chips or chips of choice.