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Neighbors Growing Together | Apr 19, 2014

A taste of the tropics

By LAUREN VERSWEYVELD, Hy-Vee dietitian | Feb 21, 2013

Enjoy a tropical escape without buying airline tickets or packing a suitcase. The sweet flavors and fruity aromas of tropical fruits transport our minds to a far-away, sun-drenched paradise. For winter-weary Midwesterners, tropical fruits are your ticket to that far-away place.

Tropical fruits bring the benefits of good nutrition with stress relief. As we let our minds drift to pleasant vacation memories or hopes of tropical escapes yet to come, we enjoy the stress relief of a momentary mental vacation. Additionally, paying attention to the aromas and flavors of our foods slows us down and helps us feel more satisfied even when we eat less.

Though kiwi grows in subtropical climates, such as California, the fuzzy brown fruit with the vibrant green interior and ring of black seeds is a perfect partner for tropical fruits.

Select kiwi that “give” slightly to gentle pressure for best flavor and sweetness. Store firm kiwi at room temperature until they give slightly to gentle pressure.

Kiwi is enjoyed for its sweet/tart flavor and how easy it is to enjoy – simply “sloop” it. Slice the kiwi in half and scoop out the fruit with a spoon.

“Slooping” makes kiwi a perfect lunchbox fruit, with the added bonus of nutrition super-star status.

Packed with powerful nutrients in a low-calorie package, kiwi fruit scores a perfect 100 on the NuVal scale. At just 50 calories per fruit, kiwi is packed with Vitamin C to aid in wound healing and iron absorption, potassium for healthy blood pressure and fiber for digestive health.

The vibrant green color holds the antioxidant lutein, which promotes healthy eyes and may play a role in preventing age-related macular degeneration.

Put a vibrant, tropical twist on your family’s meals this week. It’s as simple as topping baked chicken or fish with a unique, fruity salsa or spicing up a fruit salad with an unexpected twist.

Try this Banana-Kiwi Salad and enjoy the flavor of the tropics:

Banana-Kiwi Salad

Serves 4

Active time: 25 minutes

total: 25 minutes

All you need:

2 Tbsp. lime juice

1 Tbsp. canola oil

1 Tbsp. minced shallot

2 tsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. honey

1/4 tsp. salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

4 kiwis, peeled and diced

2 firm ripe bananas, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

2 Tbsp. thinly sliced fresh mint

2 Tbsp. chopped cashews, toasted*

All you do:

1. Whisk lime juice, oil, shallot, vinegar, honey, salt and cayenne in a medium bowl.

2. Add kiwis, bananas, bell pepper and mint; toss to coat. Serve sprinkled with cashews.

Per serving: 170 calories; 6 g fat (1 g sat, 3 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 30 g carbohydrate; 1 g added sugars; 3 g protein; 5 g fiber; 151 mg sodium; 2177 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Vitamin C (190% daily value), Potassium and Vitamin A (15% dv). Carbohydrate Servings: 11/2. Exchanges: 2 fruit, 1 fat

*To toast nuts on the stovetop, cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes.

Source: adapted from Eating Well, Inc.

This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a medical professional for individual advice.

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