Mango

Mango

The Mango has become a very popular fruit although it is not a melon. There are some who consider it the “king of the fruits”. Whether you agree or not, the mango is rich in nutrition, has a pleasant yet rich sweet taste with a mild tartness. Depending on the cultivar type, it comes in different shapes and sizes, with paisley outer skin color. Its orange-yellow flesh envelopes a single large kidney-shaped seed. Mangos contain over 20 different vitamins and minerals, including flavonoids—beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and beta-cryptoxanthin as well as antioxidant compounds. Some consider a super health food with just 99 calories per 1 cup serving. Mangos were first grown in India and gradually migrated with travelers to the Middle East, Africa, and even South America. They are actually related to cashews and pistachios.

Mangos can be enjoyed fresh, added to salads, blended with milk or other non-dairy drink for a mango smoothie/milk shake. The mango has become quite popular in sauces as well as salsas, and don’t forget jams, jellies, sweet candy, and ice cream. As we mentioned with papayas, Mango fruit should be avoided for individuals on warfarin therapy. As always, it is best to check with your doctor before digging into this particular fruit, especially if you are aware of a mango-related allergy. Mangos also have natural tenderizing properties and are great for marinades. Perhaps it’s time for you to try the versatile mango in salads, chutneys, smoothies, on chicken or pork, as a dessert, or just plain as a delicious fruit snack. Here’s to your health.

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Papaya

Papaya-1

The Papaya is a pear-shaped type fruit with yellow-orange flesh enclosed in a thin skin. They are not considered a melon type fruit but continue growing in popularity, especially as restaurants are incorporating them into many dishes. Their sweet, buttery flavor enhances sauces, jellies, preserves, ice cream, drinks, and much more. Papayas are rich in Vitamin A and C, and even a half of a small papaya can provide 150% of the recommended dietary intake of Vitamin C. They are fat free, cholesterol free, a good source of potassium, folate, and fiber with only 119 calories per 1 cup serving. The peak season for papayas, usually imported from Hawaii, is early summer and fall, although you can find them year-round. Smaller quantities of papayas also come from Florida, California, Mexico, Central and South America, and Puerto Rico. There are two types of papayas, the Hawaiian and Mexican, and are found most often in supermarkets. You might not have thought of the papaya as an aid in steak cooking, but it holds a papaya enzyme called papain that helps break down tough meat fibers, and South American cooks have long used papaya for tenderizing meats for ages. These pear-shaped fruits usually weigh about a pound each, but some Mexican varieties are larger than the more common Hawaiian types and can weigh up to 20 pounds. If you are taking Warfarin (Coumadin) used to slow blood clotting, please be aware that Papaya may increase the effects of warfarin and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. As with any medical restrictions from your doctor, please be sure to follow his advice. If you have no health/medical restrictions, then enjoy the papaya as a sweet treat.

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Casaba Melon

casaba-melon

The casaba, like the honeydew melon, is a cultivar group of muskmelons (Cucumis melo Inodorus). They are a rich yellow color with very little green on the skin. They are a larger melon, compared to cantaloupes, and should be firm. When checking ripeness there should be just a small amount of softness at the stem. When the melon is ripe the skin will have a slightly waxy feel, and you should be able to hear the seeds rattle inside a juicy melon when shaking it. Casaba melons are low in sodium, very low in saturated fat and cholesterol, and are a good source of dietary fiber, Vitamin K, potassium, copper, as well as a good source of Vitamin C and Vitamin B6. For a 1-cup serving, there are only 48 calories. It is suggested that keeping the seeds inside a cut melon will help keep it moist, but be sure to wrap a casaba when storing it in your refrigerator. Many folks claim they taste better when wrapped and brought to room temperature before eating. They can be enjoyed with your breakfast, as an afternoon snack, or in a mixed fruit salad anytime. These melons peak in the fall but you can find them in your markets in July through December, so there’s still time to enjoy this healthy fruit.

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The Honeydew Melon

 

honeydew-melon 1

This type of melon isn’t part of your ‘honey-do list’ but it sounds like it should be. The Honeydew melon is an enjoyable breakfast melon by many. My husband really likes them but I’m not so fond of the flavor. Honeydew are actually a variety of Muskmelon that originated in France. Many consider this melon to be the sweetest of all melons. The Honeydew is a cultivar group of muskmelons (Cucumis melo Inodorus) which also includes Casaba melon, Persian melon, Winter melon, Crenshaw melon, and other mixed melons. The Honeydew was revered by the ancient Egyptians as a sacred food. Both Napoleon and Pope John Paul II considered Honeydew melons their favorite fruit. It is, as other melons, low in sodium and calories (just 61 per 1 cup serving), low in saturated fat and cholesterol. It is a good source of Vitamin B6, folate, potassium, along with Vitamin C. For a healthy fruit or snack, you can’t go wrong with a Honeydew. It is available year round but best from June through October. When picking a good honeydew, avoid ones that are too firm or too soft or that have dark blemishes on the skin or is green colored. When honeydew melons are ripe, they will turn a creamy yellow color and the skin will have a slightly waxy feel. Be aware that these melons are ethylene sensitive so will ripen faster if stored with other ethylene-producing fruit because the ethylene gas they produce increases ripening in fruit/vegetables that are in close proximity. You just might want to serve some honeydew to your honey, along with your honey-do list.

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The Watermelons – Red and Yellow

Red and Yellow Watermelon

Did you know that watermelon is considered one of America’s favorite fruits, but is really a vegetable (Citrullus lanatus)? Some would argue, however, that it is still a fruit. It’s a cousin to the cucumber, and still considered related to the gourd, thus considered part of the gourd family. Watermelons can range in size from 7 to 100 pounds, with the largest watermelon, 255 pounds for the world record, grown in Oklahoma. Most historians agree that watermelons first grew in the middle of the Kalahari Desert and were a source of water for thirsty traders. Traders soon began selling their seeds on ancient Mediterranean trade routes where their cultivation grew and spread throughout Africa. By the 1600s watermelon had made it way to not only Great Britain, Spain, but China and beyond. Thanks for European colonists and African slaves who brought them to North America. The most popular of the watermelons is the Red Watermelon, although Yellow watermelon is gaining in popularity. Both contain high concentrations of the antioxidant lycopene that many believe helps reduce the risks of cancer and other diseases. Watermelon—red or yellow—is fat free, nutritionally low in calories, and considered a great diet food. It is certainly a welcome treat on hot summer days. They are available all year but you’ll see an abundance of them from May through September, peaking from June to August. Although they are 92% water, and only 46 calories per cup serving, they are considered a natural energy booster. There are actually more than 50 varieties of watermelon grown commercially. Yellow Watermelons are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium. They’re also a good source of Potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, the same with the Red Watermelons—both seeded and seedless. With more people choosing the seedless red watermelons, kids of all ages are missing out on seed-spitting memories. Maybe you can share that experience with them today. Enjoy watermelons, either red or yellow—or some of both!

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The Cantaloupe Melon

cantaloupe

I’m sure you’ve enjoyed a sweet cantaloupe for breakfast or in a mixed fruit salad at lunch. They are a favorite for many people. It’s interesting that what we Americans call cantaloupes are actually must melons. True cantaloupes do not display netting on the exterior, they have a smooth-to-rough skin, and are not grown commercially in the United States. They originated in the Orient, via Armenia on their way to Europe and then to America, where today Europeans recognize a clear distinction between a cantaloupe and muskmelon. Whatever you call it, it’s a healthy addition of fruit to your eating plan. Cantaloupes are low in saturated fat, calories—just 53 per 1 cup serving–sodium, and very low in cholesterol. They also are a good source of dietary fiber, niacin, Vitamin B6 and folate, a very good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Potassium. Cantaloupes of good quality will have large webbing or netting on the exterior skin with orange/yellow coloring, and be slightly soft on the stem end and firm elsewhere. Also, at the stem end there should be a sweet smell. Usually, the sweeter the smell, the sweeter the cantaloupe. You should be able to find them in your local stores year-round but June through August is peak season. Enjoy cantaloupe for your health.

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Introduction To Melons

melon variety pic

An enjoyable addition to your morning breakfast or afternoon snack just might be a melon. The numerous types of melons are tasty and healthy for you. It’s interesting that the word “melon” can refer to either the plant or specifically to the fruit. Melons are various plants of the family Cucurbitaceae family with fleshy, edible fruit. You’ve enjoyed them I’m sure—from the watermelon, cantaloupe, to honeydew and other varieties. They were introduced to America by early settlers, who grew honeydew and casaba melons as early as the 1600s but they originated in Africa and Southwest Asia, appearing in Europe toward the end of the Roman Empire. Melons are loaded with potassium and vitamin C, are fat and cholesterol free and contain disease-fighting nutrients such as lycopene in red-fleshed watermelon. Melons have a high water content so some of the coolest, juiciest, hydrating and healthy fruits available. They’re available 12 months of the year. You’ve probably enjoyed watermelon during the summer months at the beach, pool, or family BBQ. Did you know that melons, squashes, and cucumbers are in the same gourd family? Most melons have similar structure to winter squash with thick flesh and inner seed-filled midsection but what is the difference between melons and squashes? How they’re used. Squash is considered a vegetable, while melons are known as fruits with sweet and juicy flavor. We’ll break down the most common melons that you find in your local grocery store. In the meantime, enjoy their sweetness.

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Granny Smith Apple

Granny-Smith-Apples

 

GRANNY SMITH APPLE

granny smith applesHere is another apple you can readily find in your local grocery store. The Granny Smith Apple also comes from “down under” — Australia. Legend has it that Marie Ana Smith carelessly tossed some French crab apples into her garden in the 1860s. When she discovered that some sprouts had surfaced, she cultivated the young shoots into horticultural history, and thus the Granny Smith Apple came into existence. She must have been a grandma. It is now grown world-wide, and you can find Granny Smith in your local markets year-round. They give a burst of tangy-tartness in every bite along with plenty of crisp crunch. When I think of the Granny Smith apple, I think of apple pie. You’ll probably enjoy them better in apple pies than eating them fresh, unless you like a really tart apple.

HEALTH PROPERTIES

Granny Smith apples are high in cell repairing antioxidants. They are also a good source of soluble fiber, which has been proven to help lower cholesterol, control weight, and regulate blood sugar. Granny Smith apples contain vitamins A and C, as well as a trace amount of iron, most of which is located in their skin.

Granny Smith apples have the ability to hold their shape when cooked and are usedapple pie in many pies, tarts, pastries, and even added to bread stuffing. In fact, their sweet-tart flavor is a great addition to soups, smoothies and sauces. These apples do not brown as quickly as other types when cut and can be added to fresh preparations in salads and salsas, not to mention pairing with cheeses.

They have less sugar (17gm) hence their tartness and have about the same nutrition value as the other apples.

We’ve looked at the readily-available apple varieties in your local grocery store, and we found each of them at Walmart.

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Golden Delicious Apple

group of golden delicious

 

GOLDEN DELICIOUS APPLE

Here is another apple you’ll find in your local grocery store. This particular apple is Golden Deliciousconsidered mildly sweet, juicy, and crisp, and has been referred to as the apple with a majestic amber color. Looks yellow-green to me.

A CHANCE SEEDLING?

Like the Red Delicious, the Golden Delicious began as a chance seedling of the Grimes Golden and Golden Reinette, but was originally called the Mullin’s Yellow Seedling and Annit Apple. We’ll just call it Golden Delicious. It is not related to the Red Delicious.

WEST VIRGINIA ROOTS

The original tree was found on the L. L. Mullin’s farm in Clay County, West VirginiaGolden-Delicious apple on tree (US), but in 1914 Stark Brothers Nurseries bought the original tree and the area of land around it. As they had done with the Red Delicious, Stark Brothers also bought the propagation rights for the Golden Delicious, and I guess the rest as they say, is history. With its roots in West Virginia history, it is not surprising that the Golden Delicious was designated as the official state fruit of West Virginia in 1955 by a Senate resolution.

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When the Golden Delicious ripens on the tree to a golden-green color, it’s rich and exceptionally sweet flavor comes through. Some people have even compared eating a golden delicious apple to eating raw sugar cane. It is indeed a versatile apple that can be used both for dessert and cooking purposes. The sweet-tartness of the Golden Delicious means this apple is a good fresh eating variety. Fresh, raw apple slices may be added to green salads, fruit salads, or grain salads. Golden Delicious apples also have the necessary acid content and stability for baking. They can be baked into crisps, crumbles, tarts, cakes, galettes, and breads. Apple slices may also be cooked down into preserves and butters, or pureed into sauces and soups.

empire apple(An interesting note here: The Empire Apple pictured to the left is a cross between a Golden Delicious and a McIntosh and developed in 1966 by the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station. The Empire is a smaller apple but one that is sweet, juicy, and extra-crunchy).

Is it any wonder that apples are the second most important fruit,apple a day pic of all fruits, sold in grocery stores? In fact, apples ranks next to bananas! I say it’s time for a fresh fruit salad with either red delicious apples or golden delicious, throw in a sliced banana as well, and maybe a few grapes. Apples are definitely in season, so here’s to your health.

 

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Red Delicious Apples

Red Delicious Apples at Apple Barn, Pigeon Forge, TN

Red Delicious Apples at Apple Barn, Pigeon Forge, TN

 

According to Motts (apple manufacturer), there are some 7,500 different apple varieties worldwide, and 2,500 varieties grown in the United States! (That’s a LOT of apples). Here is one of the most popular and is readily found in your local grocery store.

RED DELICIOUS APPLE

Red deliciousThe Red Delicious – the largest by volume grown in the United States. Most people may think the red delicious apple originated from the state of Washington, but actually had its beginning in 1872 in Peru, Iowa. Jess Hiat, a local farmer in Peru, Iowa, tried a chance seedling and was the first one to commercially marketed a new apple known as “Hiatt’s Hawkeye” in 1874. But when the Stark Brothers who owned a large fruit company bought out Hiatt, they renamed the variety Delicious. In the 1920’s Washington State began growing apples and have been the leading American apple producing state since. Some apple varieties are referred to as cultivars because they have been grafted from other apple varieties. The Red Delicious apple is one such and grows by grafting or budding, not from seeds. (Something that probably would have puzzled Johnny Appleseed many years ago!)

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Health Benefits

Red Delicious apples are very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, comprising only 80 calories per apple. The health benefits in apples are too numerous to overlook: they’re a good source of dietary fiber which is helpful for maintaining a good working intestinal system; they contain a rich source of other antioxidant compounds and some Vitamin C. Studies show that eating apples could also reduce the risk of colon and prostate cancer, help with cardiovascular heart disease issues, weight loss, and controlling cholesterol. They make great snacks. The Red Delicious apple is juicy and crisp and considered a sweet apple in comparison with milder or tart apples (Granny Smith, McIntosh, etc.).

Red Delicious apples are best used in fresh preparations, as their flesh does not hold up well when cooked. Add to green, fruit and chopped salads. Use as an edible garnish on sandwiches, quesadillas and burgers. Since their flesh breaks down easily they can be successfully slow cooked and pureed to make sauces and soups. Their flavor pairs well with cinnamon, cheddar cheese, horseradish, chard, cherries, mustard, and pecans. 

So, are your taste buds watering for a healthy, juicy, crisp red delicious apple yet? I don’t like the red delicious for eating as well as other apples, but there’s a variety to choose from. The red delicious popularity has somewhat waned due to some of the newer eating apples such as Gala and Fuji.

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