Sep 282011
 

While each of these nutritional superstars can certainly stand alone, after checking the seasonal charts I found that passion fruit, persimmons, and pomegranate all arrive in August- September, and should be available for several months.  Why not take the opportunity to learn what their nutrition is, and be able to try them fresh?  More and more we are getting the message to eat a “variety” of fruit and vegetables, so let’s take a look at “The three P’s”.

Passion fruit

passion fruitNative to South America, the nutritious passion fruit is round to oval, either yellow or dark purple at maturity, with a soft juicy interior filled with numerous seeds. The fruit is both eaten and juiced; and is often added to other fruit juices to enhance the aroma.

Passion fruit is enjoyed worldwide.  In Hawaii, the fruit-flavored syrup is used as a topping for shaved ice; in Australia, it’s sold commercially, both fresh and tinned, and commonly eaten for breakfast.  In Mexico, it’s enjoyed as juice or eaten raw with chili powder and lime, and it is commonly juiced and used for teas in the US.

There are many nutritional benefits in passion fruit.  It is a good source of Vitamins A, C,  and potassium; with adequate amounts of minerals – iron, copper, magnesium, and phosphorus.

One passion fruit has only 17 calories, 0.1 g fat, 4.2 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol and almost 2 grams of fiber.

Buy fruits after they are well-ripened, plump, and heavy for their size.  They may be stored at room temperature in a dark, cool place for up to 2 days, or refrigerated for up to a week.  Wash under cold water, cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the juicy pulp and enjoy.

Watch an entertaining video on how to eat a passion fruit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-5lyEfsQCk&feature=fvwrel

Persimmon

Fuyu_persimmonThe national fruit of Japan, the nutritious persimmon is an orange, waxy fruit that looks similar to a tomato.  The persimmon leaves are several times richer in Vitamin C than the fruit itself. Tea made from the Persimmon leaves is becoming popular as a healthy drink in Japan. The fruit contains twice the fiber of an apple and has many more potent antioxidants.

This delicious crisp and crunchy fruit is loaded with nutrients: Vitamin A, B vitamins (riboflavin, folate, and niacin), Vitamin C, and has more calcium than most fruits.  Weighing in at 118 calories for a medium-size fruit, they are virtually fat, cholesterol, and sodium free and have 6 grams of fiber.

Persimmons which have dark-colored flesh are always sweet and non-astringent and should be eaten before they become too soft. Varieties with light-colored flesh have an astringent taste until they soften. The astringent taste is due to the presence of a large amount of tannin, the same substance found in tea.  Look for ones that have a deep red color, plump and without blemishes. Ripeness is indicated by softness. Ripe persimmons can be frozen with no loss of taste.

Slice off the top of the fruit and peel.  You can eat it like an apple—but don’t get too close to the core; or slice off the top, use a knife to cut out the core, and use a small spoon to eat the pulp.

The persimmon is delicious when eaten fresh, and can be used to top pancakes, in cakes or pies, or added to salads.

Pomegranate

pomegranateThe pomegranate has slowly paved its way to being a health and nutrition superstar.  Research has shown that consuming pomegranate has long-term preventative health benefits– protecting from Alzheimer’s disease, heart problems, aging, and arthritis.  Recently, scientists have discovered its usefulness in treating fertility problems, blood pressure, and prostate cancer.

Pomegranates also possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, and can help in fighting osteoporosis by slowing down the deterioration of cartilage.

One medium size pomegranate has 105 calories, trace amounts of fat, no cholesterol, 4.62 mg sodium, 398 mg potassium, 1.4 g protein, and about 1 g of fiber.

To choose a pomegranate that will be sweet and juicy, look for a fruit that is as brightly colored as possible and heavy for its size.  Large pomegranates will have higher proportions of pulp.  A good pomegranate will have hard, red skin that is shiny and not withered. The skin should not have any blemishes or cracks, and although it is tough, it should be thin.

Pomegranates stay fresh for about two weeks when stored in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. In the refrigerator, they can be safely stored for up to two months.

Try making a pomegranate jelly or chutney, top a spinach salad, or add the seeds with the celery and onion in your holiday stuffing.

With all these health benefits, the pomegranate can be a frustrating fruit to eat, so watch this video to learn how to quickly de-seed and enjoy!

persimmon-fruit-saladIt’s well worth the effort to learn how to work with these fruits, and enjoy the healthy and nutritious Passion fruit-Pomegranate salad recipe.

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