Are you hungry for the fresh fruits and vegetables that flourish in farmers’ markets during the summer months? Do not despair during these chilly ~ and sometimes very snowy ~ February doldrums! There are lots of luscious choices to satisfy your sweet tooth while replenishing your body with healthy vitamins and nutrients.
Fruits from around the world replenish our palates and satisfy our desire for sweets. There are clementines, tangelos, the sweetest seedless Cara Cara oranges, ruby red grapefruit and much more. The pièce de resistance of winter fruits are the more exotic, tantalizing fruits that come from the southern hemisphere.
Currently in local produce departments at specialty markets like Sickles Market in Little Silver, are beautiful, luscious fruits from as far away as New Zealand and Chile. Succulent little Green Gage plums are perfect to plop in your mouth for a sweet, healthy treat on-the-go. Another delicious plum is the lemon plum from Chile that has the same semi-firm yellow texture as our summer red plums. At this time of year all stone fruit is coming from the southern hemisphere. In the summer months, we have lemon plums from California.
Another sweet treat from New Zealand is the mango ~ the variety currently available at Sickles Market is the Kent variety, unbelievably sweet with hints of coconut and pineapple. Kent and Keitts varieties are the best available in the western hemisphere according to Bob Sickles, third generation owner of Sickles Market, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of all produce sold in his market. He also explains that the best mangoes come from Mexico and will be arriving soon.
And a trivia question that he teased ~ what is the most consumed fruit in the world? The mango, considered “the king of fruits!” He says, “It is always available somewhere in the world and even beats out bananas and apples.”
According to www.nutritionandyou.com , the mango is rich in pre-biotic dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidant compounds. In a new research study, mango fruit has been found to protect against colon, breast, leukemia and prostate cancers. Mango fruit is also an excellent source of the antioxidants found in vitamin-A and flavonoids like beta-carotene and alpha-carotene. Fresh mango is a very rich source of potassium, which helps control one’s heart rate and blood pressure and is a very good source of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin-C and vitamin-E. No wonder it is considered the king of fruits.
And, according to a recent report issued by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Health & Human Services in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, we should be eating two and a half cups of fruit and vegetables daily ~ filling half our plate at each meal. Although we are still in the midst of winter, this should be easy to do with all these delicious fruits readily available now in select produce markets. Everyone’s sweet tooth should be sufficiently satisfied, while enjoying the benefits from the nutritional values of these fruits.
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