Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Exotic Eating

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In my Farmer's Market entry, I mentioned that I was planning a trip to our 50th state, Hawaii. Well, I just returned from the Big Island, also known as paradise! My adventures included discovering waterfalls, hiking through rainforests, trekking across an active volcano, watching red hot lava plunge into the sea at night, and relaxing with giant sea turtles on a black sand beach. Aaaaah, I'm still on cloud 9. But of course, some of the best memories I made in Hawaii involve food (surely no surprise if you read this blog). So, I decided to devote the next several entries to my "field to fork" experiences, and first on the list is chowing down on the exotic fruits grown on the island.

I took over 200 pictures and I have 4 to share today. The bottom pic is the "fuzzy" rambutan, a delicious fruit as common in Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines as apples are to North America. Once we figured out how to open it we discovered a delicious white "egg" (it kind of looked like an eyeball to tell you the truth) that was sweetly delicate and chewy. Rambutans are rich in vitamin C and provide some potassium and dietary fiber. They're sensational all by themselves (and exciting to eat - like opening a beautifully wrapped present).

The photo with my hands is a is a mamey sapote. It is super rich/sweet, high in calories (about 300 per fruit!), but loaded with nutrients including fiber, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium, vitamins A and C, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin (wow!). It's often blended into milkshakes or made into ice cream, but you can eat it as is, or chop it and add to a garden or fruit salad - yum! Sapotes also come in white and black varieties.

And finally, possibly my new favorite fruit, a dragon fruit (shown sliced open - they can be either white or pink inside, and I selected a pink one). It was almost too gorgeous to eat but of course I managed (tee-hee). You can use dragon fruit in any recipe you would kiwi (the seeds are edible) or of course enjoy it as is. Like rambutan, it's also rich in vitamin C and fiber.

Incorporating exotic fruits into your diet is a great way to get excited about eating fruit again (versus eating a tired old banana day after day), expose your body to new phytochemicals (the disease fighters in produce pigments), load up on nutrients, and treat your taste buds (I cannot tell you how delicious that dragon fruit was! It tasted like a kiwi mixed with a plum).

And the great news is you don't have to travel all the way to Hawaii or any other far off locale to enjoy these amazing treats. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture's web site, several exotics are grown in the Sunshine State including aemoya, canistel, carambola, coconut, dragon fruit, guava, jackfruit, longan, lychee, mango, monstera, papaya, passion fruit, pummelo, sapodilla, and sapote, and of course many are grown in California. Check your own state's site for your local harvests and seasons - you may be surprised what you find! Ok, signing off for today, wishing you adventurous eating!

P.S. The first pic is of me holding something I waxed poetic about in a previous entry - ginger.
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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