Ingredient of the Month 9: Dragon Fruit
Can I have an ingredient of the month just because it's so beautiful? -Yes I can when it's as nutritious as dragon fruit! It is a wonderful dessert just halved and scooped from the skin either at room temperature or frozen (somehow it manages to taste almost creamy), or can be added to fruit salads.
Dragon fruit, also called pithaya, actually comes from a cactus not a tree. It is found in Asia and South America, being native to countries like China, Mexico, Argentina and Peru. The cactus flowers are white and bloom only at night, so the dragon fruit cactus is sometimes called "Moonflower" or Queen of the Night"
There are two kinds of fruit; one with bright pink skin and white centre, and one which has a pink centre too. The white-fleshed one is the one we normally see in the UK. In my experience, you have to buy the really ripe ones to get a flavour, and even then it is very delicate, but personally I find this refreshing and not a drawback at all. As well as being lovely to look at, dragon fruit are great nutritionally, too. Here's some information I found out recently:
- They are high in antioxidants, including vitamin C. (Good for your immune system.)
- They contain vitamins B1, B2 and B3 (which can lower harmful chloresterol, help metabolise carbs and nourish the skin).
- Their seeds are high in polyunsaturated fatty acids (good fats).
- Eating dragon fruit can help your body detox from heavy metals, and it is said they can relieve a cough and even asthma.
- They contain carotene, which promotes eye health.
- There is even some protein in dragon fruit.
- They are even rich in the minerals calcium and phosphorus, so good for teeth, bones and tissue in general.
- Being low in calories and high in fibre makes dragon fruit very useful as a healthy dessert or snack.