This Expat’s Guide to Tropical Fruits is most valuable; a three-part miniseries for healthy living.
Tropical fruits provide an excellent source of nutritional hydration for hot-weather climates. They grow plentifully year-round, can be plucked and eaten right off the tree or vine, and tossed into an ice-filled blender for smoothies or enjoyed as a refreshingly cold juice beverage.
Most of these fruits make the perfect snack. Packed with super-nutrition for energy, they grow pre-wrapped to travel-and-peel upon destination. Many thick-skinned tropical fruits need no pesticides, so they’re safe for family consumption.
Expat’s Guide to Tropical Fruits: Banana Family
Who doesn’t love bananas? They are easy to plant and grow in patio-planters, or the ground.
They make potassium-rich travel snacks, or mashed into favorite Banana-bread, and pancake recipes.
You can freeze and slice them into blender drinks, for naturally sweet, thick milkshakes, nutritious smoothies or protein drinks.
Apple Bananas are a tasty, child-sized banana that combines the flavor and texture of a banana with a hint of sweet-tart apples — our favorite! You’ll need several of these small bananas to satiate your taste buds. Just don’t eat them green – let these ripen!
Plantains & Bluggos
Both these look like bananas, however, Plantains are longer, and Bluggos are a short, fat version of the Plantain. Though yellow, the fruit inside is denser in texture, containing more starch than a regular banana, and can be a satisfying meal substitute. They aren’t as sugary-sweet as traditional bananas, but are a substantial source of fiber, packed with nutrients, and can help with weight loss.
Although some nutrients are lost during cooking, people in Latin countries fry this banana alternative. They serve them up fried at many restaurants as a “side” for most dishes with many meals.
Easy-Grow Banana Trees:
Plant a one-to-two foot “cutting” from the mid-section of a fallen, banana-tree stalk. Banana trees fall and die after producing one large bunch of bananas. But only after reproducing another stalk, growing from its side, on which will grow another bunch of bananas.
Water every day, and within a month you’ll notice a leaf sprouting from the center of your planted cutting. In a year, maybe two (keeping brown leaves trimmed), your tree will grow, and you’ll enjoy homegrown bananas. Plant a couple of trees to harvest fruit at different times throughout the year, as they grow plentifully in sunny locations.
Expat’s Guide to Tropical Fruits: Caribbean Citrus Fruits
Because citrus fruits are loaded with life-saving vitamin C, save seeds from your faves to plant in patio-pottery or backyard. Keep watered, and within a couple of years you’ll have fruit-bearing trees with extra-sweet citrus fruits for meal preparations, snacking, and naturally sweeten baked goods.
Rinse off and slice sour lemons and limes, for adorning drinks, or adding to pan-fried seafood, where they’ll cook up as a sweet-tasting, nutritious garnish. And always add lemon or lime juice to homemade salsas, stews, and guacamole!
Squeeze Caribbean Grapefruits into a glass for surprisingly sweet and refreshing citrus flavors; they’re not bitter or sour here. You’ll only need to taste our Orange juice to see why big-name commercial Orange-juice companies choose our super-sweet citrus fruits. Try baking with prize-winning Caribbean Orange Juice for tasty Cranberry-Orange bread around Christmastime.
Expat’s Guide to Tropical Fruits: Dragon Fruit
This deep purple-magenta cactus fruit with its dragon-like scales, is nutrient-dense for a healthy heart and bones, strengthening the immune system, working as a digestive aid, and helping to cleanse the liver. In the Caribbean, I’ve only seen the dark purple fruit, not the white-flesh variety always pictured. The flavor is mildly sweet, with the consistency of Kiwis, and is strangely good to eat once you figure out how to de-scale your Dragon Fruit.
Expat’s Guide to Tropical Fruits: Kiwi Fruit
The Kiwi is a palm-sized furry-brown, oval-shaped fruit that when peeled exposes the lime-green, sweet-tart filling with edible, tiny black seeds. The entire fruit can be eaten, even the furry skin – but not me! I prefer this powerful vitamin C fruit cut in half (by length or width) and scooped out of its skin by spoon. Your child will also love this small, grape-textured fruit.
Expat’s Guide to Tropical Fruits: Mangos
Mangos are anti-inflammatory, high in antioxidants, fights cancer and treats diabetes.
The only downside to this luscious fruit – it’s in the Poison Oak/Ivy family! So if you have trouble with skin rashes, you’ll want to stay away. Yet I’ve experienced no problems with our backyard tree, and the large seeds are easy to plant, water, and they grow in the harsh sun.
Arrange Mango chunks, to form a crust over your favorite cornbread-recipe batter, sprinkle with cinnamon, and bake according to recipe instructions.
These are yummy, and nutritious enough to serve as breakfast on-the-go, lunch, or after-dinner dessert treats!
Expat’s Guide to Tropical Fruits: Starfruit
Starfruits are mildly tart, semi-translucent yellowish-green color, and make child-pleasing star shapes (when cut widthwise). High in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin C, they can cleanse the palate. Slices can be perched onto exotic mixed drinks, or used to garnish meal plates, as I did in the above photo “Banana-Coconut Fritters”.
Expat’s Guide to Tropical Fruits: Watermelon
Probably one of the most loved, and recognizably oversized tropical fruits, Watermelons are good for the circulatory system and the heart, offering the ultimate hydration for extreme-heat temperature zones.
“As you would expect, watermelon juice is good for you. It’s high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium.
It’s about 92% water, so it’s plenty hydrating, too!” (according to Google nutrition source).
To make watermelon juice, cut the melon away from the rind, into long strips/chunks that’ll fit your blender/juicer. Strain seeds out, and you’re left with a delicious naturally sweet juice which can also be frozen into homemade popsicles or ice cubes, for a hot summer day’s enjoyment, sans extra sugar in similar store-bought treats.
Now, our little expat guide to tropical fruits is far from complete. Check out parts 2 and 3 on TCI. If you like, sign up for free, and join the conversation.
by Cheri Majors