Plants on Your Plate: Mango
As we sit in the midst of winter (according to the calendar, though maybe not the weather) our options for local produce are limited, unless you have a greenhouse. Since most of the options in the grocery store don’t reflect seasonal prices, I find myself reaching for fruits or vegetables that just make me happy and one of those is mangos.
While I love the flavor of mangoes, I don’t like dealing with them, so I tend to grab them when I know my daughter will be around, because she is skilled at preparing them.
Mangoes were first grown in India some 5000 years ago and is a symbol of love. The paisley pattern, developed in India, is said to be inspired by the shape of the mango. As travel increased, mango seeds were shared across the Middle East and Africa between 300 and 400 AD.
In the 1600’s, Spanish explorers, brought mangoes to South America and Mexico. Commercial mango production in the United States started in the early 1900’s and the fruit are only grown successfully in California, Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. The major world-wide producers of mangos are Mexico, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil.
Mangoes are one of the most widely consumed fruits in the world. One of the six main varieties - Tommy Atkins, Honey, Kent, Keitt, Haden and Francis - are typically available year-round. Botanically, mangoes are a drupe, more commonly known as a stone fruit, due to their central stone which contains a single seed. When selecting mangoes, look for plump fruits that are slightly soft when pressed with a finger. Avoid those fruits that are wrinkled or sticky with sap on the skin. If a mango is not soft, it can be placed in a brown paper bag to hasten the ripening.
Firm mangoes are easier to prepare than soft fruit. Start by slicing about ½ inch on each side of the stem, which should make the knife go just around the center stone. With each half of fruit, make cross cuts about ½ inch wide, but do not cut through the skin. Then use a spoon to scoop the cubes of fruit from the peel.
Nibbling the fruit from the center stone is your reward for your preparation efforts! If you have overripe mangoes that don’t cooperate with the above method, peel and remove the fruit in whatever way possible and puree in a blender or food processor with a small amount of lemon juice and freeze in ice cube trays to use later.
Mangoes boast an abundance of nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and K which are important for immune, vascular, and bone health. Minerals such as potassium and magnesium are beneficial in management of hypertension. The dietary fiber and amylase compounds in mangoes are beneficial to digestive health.
Mangoes make a delicious addition to a fruit salad or a smoothie, using frozen puree. Our favorite way to enjoy them is in salsa. The recipe below makes a wonderful accompaniment to fish or chicken, or just scooped up with some fresh baked corn chips.
(Makes 8 servings)
3 mangos, ripe but still firm
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped red onion
¼ cup finely chopped jalapeno pepper
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Nutrition information: Calories: 48, Total Fat: .3, Saturated Fat: .1g, Sodium: 2mg, Carbohydrates: 12g, Fiber: 1.5g, Protein: .8g
Recipe adapted from Cooking Matters, analyzed by verywellfit.com
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