Ready to try adding some fantasy to your diet? Try the new and trendy dragon fruit. Also known as Pitaya or Pitahaya Fruit, the dragon fruit is a beautiful tropical fruit grown in Southeast Asia, Mexico, Central and South America, and Israel. A type of cactus, with an intense dragon-like shape, the fruit comes in three colors: two have pink skin, but with different colored flesh (one white, the other red) while another type is yellow with white flesh. Dragon fruit is succulent, low in calories and rich in vitamin C, phosphorus, calcium and other antioxidants. An added bonus is that it is also high in fiber.
Only recently introduced to me by my son (I believe because it looks like cookies and cream inside), dragon fruit is definitely delicious! Not the hot and spicy taste you would think that the name implies, but this fruit pack is actually sweet and crunchy and falls somewhere between a kiwi and a pear. Dragon fruit is a great addition to a diet in need of a little pizzazz. The challenge is finding it. Asian markets and some health food stores carry them.
When choosing a ripe dragon fruit, look for bright, even-colored skin. If it has more than a few blotches, it may be over-ripe (a few is normal). Another sign of over-ripe dragon fruit is a very dry, brittle brown stem, or brown on the tips of the “leaves.” Hold the dragon fruit in your palm and try pressing the skin with your thumb or finders – it should give a little (like a ripe kiwi), but shouldn’t be too soft or mushy. If it’s very firm, it will need to ripen for a few days.
To eat dragon fruit, cut it in half the long way. The fruit inside may be white or red with tiny seeds, just like a kiwi. You can scoop out the flesh with a spoon, or you can cut up the flesh into cubes. The cubes are a great and colorful addition to a fruit salad. Be sure to cut away all the pink skin from the flesh. Cut through to the other side, so that you can separate the fruit into two sections.
At the present time, dragon fruit and other exotic fruits can be special ordered online from many specialty order sites. Indulge in your wildest fruit fantasies and the next time you see dragon fruit on the menu and be sure to try a sample.