Expanding Your Horizons With New Fruits and Vegetables

Dragon Fruit

Do you use the same type of lettuce in your salad every week and eat the same fruits and vegetables on a regular basis? Summer is the perfect time to try new produce. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables gives your body a broader range of vitamins, antioxidants and other nutrients. Plus — it keeps your palette from getting bored!

Next time you’re in a culinary rut, stroll through the farmers market or grocery store produce section and pick up something you don’t recognize. The flavor may surprise you.

Here are some less-common fruits and vegetables you can use to complement your favorite dishes or use in new recipes:

  • Kumquat. These bite-sized citrus wonders are more tart than their bigger relative, oranges, and their peel is edible. The peel tastes like an orange peel but is sweeter and more tender.
  • Star fruit. This fruit looks like a star when sliced and is quite tasty. The flavors are similar to citrus fruits and plums. You can pop the whole fruit into your mouth—seeds, skin and all!
  • Jicama. This vegetable looks like a potato, has the crispy and juicy texture of a pear, but tastes sweet and starchy like an apple. It’s delicious raw and adds crunch and flavor to salads.
  • Bok choy. For a distinct, peppery, fresh flavor, try this lettuce-like vegetable. You can enjoy it blanched, steamed, pickled or sautéed. It’s part of the cabbage family and is a cruciferous vegetable.
  • Parsnips. Similar to carrots in their woody texture when raw, they actually have a lightly spiced flavor, similar to nutmeg and cinnamon.
  • White asparagus. This type of asparagus lacks a green color since it grows underground. It is milder in taste, more tender and cooks quicker than green asparagus.
  • Pomelo. Imagine the biggest grapefruit you’ve ever seen. Then imagine it seven times larger and you have a pomelo. Inside the outer layer are big and juicy citrus segments with bold flavor.
  • Dragon fruit. Subtle in flavor, this fruit is a little sweet and a little sour with a creamy texture.
  • Water apple. This pear-shaped, red fruit is actually a berry. The high water content gives it a crisp and refreshing flavor, similar to watermelon.

Not sure how to use your new produce? A simple chopped fruit salad is a great refreshing summer treat. Try experimenting with different combinations of fruits. Or try making this jicama salad.

Chopped Jicama Mex Salad

INGREDIENTS

Salad:

1 cup jicama, peeled and chopped

1 can black beans, rinsed and well drained

1 cup fresh tomato, chopped

¾ cup corn, fresh or frozen

1 red bell pepper, chopped

½ avocado, chopped

¼ cup red onion, chopped

2 cups romaine lettuce, chopped

Lime Dressing:

¼ cup lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons honey

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (optional)

2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Prepare the lime dressing in a separate bowl. Pour dressing over salad mixture and toss.

 Get nutritious, local produce at Anne Arundel Medical Center’s farmers market! The market runs every Friday from 10:30am to 1:30pm through the end of October, except for September 2. Visit us at the ground level of the South Pavilion. Park in Garage A.

Authors
Caldwell Shackelford Photo3

By Ann Caldwell and Maureen Shackelford, nutritionists and registered dietitians at Anne Arundel Medical Center. To reach them call 443-481-5555.

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