Diet

Strange Fruit

Strange Fruit

BY: Daryn Eller

Lately I’ve been comparing apples and oranges, only to come to a troubling conclusion: boring! This wouldn’t be a problem if the USDA’s ubiquitous “5 A Day” fruit and vegetable recommendation didn’t entail two servings of fruit a day. Thus, I decided that if I was going to make the grade, I’d have to look beyond the usual suspects. Turns out there are more choices than I could possibly carry home. “A lot of exotic fruits are very rich in antioxidants, compounds that destroy disease-causing free radicals,” says Colleen Lammel-Harmon, R.D., a spokesperson for the Illinois Dietetic Association. “Some of them can be expensive,” she notes, “but by mixing them into a fruit salad or alternating them with more common kinds on fruit kebobs, you can keep the cost down. That’s also a good way to introduce them to family members who might be a little skeptical.” Here are eight uncommon fruits that are worth a try. If your local supermarket doesn’t carry them, try farmers markets in your area, gourmet shops or online vendors like Melissa’s World Variety Produce or Frieda’s Inc.


1. Passion fruit
What it looks like
Shaped like an egg with a deep purple exterior and very soft golden flesh; about three inches long
How it tastes Like fruit punch with a tiny bit of tartness
Why it’s healthy Good source of vitamins A and C
How to pick it Choose one that feels heavy; when it’s deeply wrinkled, it’s ripe
Happy eating Scoop out the center with a spoon; blend into sorbets or smoothies; add pulp to vinaigrette

2. Pummelo
What it looks like
Grapefruit on steroids with thick greenish-yellow or yellow peel; can grow to the size of a basketball, though the size of a small cantaloupe is more common
How it tastes Like a mild grapefruit, but without the acidic bite
Why it’s healthy Rich in vitamin C
How to pick it Look for heavy, unblemished fruit
Happy eating Like a grapefruit, cut into sections or squeezed for juice

3. Baby Kiwi
What it looks like
Fuzz-free, grape-sized kiwi
How it tastes Sweet-tart, strawberry-ish flavor
Why it’s healthy Excellent source of vitamin C and a (rare) nonfat source of vitamin E
How to pick it Purchase and eat when firm yet pliable
Happy eating Pop ‘em whole into your mouth or combine with other tropical fruits and serve alongside frozen yogurt

4. Guava
What it looks like
Two to three inches round; oval or pear-shaped; with a yellow, red or even deep purple skin when ripe
How it tastes Remember SweeTarts? This is the natural (and more yummy) version -- a little sugary with a sour after-bite
Why it’s healthy Rich in vitamin C
How to pick it Look for fruit that is soft and ripe, but not so ripe that it has spots
Happy eating Eat it whole -- rind, seeds and all! Purée into sauces for chicken or pork, or blend the flesh into a smoothie

5. Persimmon
What it looks like
Bright orange; about three inches in diameter; with a glossy skin and smooth flesh
How it tastes Subtle pumpkin-plum flavor with a hint of spice
Why it’s healthy Good source of vitamins A and C
How to pick it Buy Hachiya persimmons firm, then allow them to get very soft and ripe before eating; Fuyu and Sharon varieties can be eaten firm
Happy eating Whole or peeled; add to cranberry sauce; chop and toss into a spinach salad

6. Cherimoya
What it looks like
Heart-shaped; green pinecone-like exterior; with inedible black seeds and a slightly mushy white flesh
How it tastes Sweet pineapple-mango-banana flavor
Why it’s healthy Delivers a dose of niacin, iron and vitamin C
How to pick it Buy firm, then allow to ripen until soft
Happy eating Remove the seeds and eat with a spoon -- its rind is the perfect little bowl

7. Cape Gooseberries
What it looks like
Golden nuggets the size of large cherries beneath a papery husk that looks like a Chinese lantern
How it tastes Like a tomato (which it’s related to) crossed with a pineapple
Why it’s healthy Rich in vitamin C
How to pick it Look for berries that are yellow-orange
Happy eating Out of hand, like berries; turn them into jam; or toss into a fruit salad

8. Pepino Melon
What it looks like
This mini melon can be as small as a plum; yellow-gold flesh and purple-streaked peel
How it tastes Cross between a cantaloupe and cucumber with a hint of honey
Why it’s healthy Good source of vitamins A and C
How to pick it Look for fruit that is fragrant and gives slightly when you press your finger into it
Happy eating Pair with prosciutto (as you would cantaloupe) or use in a fruit salsa



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Daryn Eller is a frequent contributor to Live Right Live Well and has written for O, Prevention, Health and Natural Health magazines. She lives in Venice, Calif.



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