Throughout history, tropical-fruit delicacies have brought the highest price tags at the market, as they fulfill cravings that most other foods simply cannot. Some say addictive – possibly, but these are all healthy, rich in antioxidants.
They are immunity-builders and nutritiously good for you. To top it off, they also are mega delicious! Here, then, is the “Gold-Standard” of tropical fruits!
Tropical Fruits: Nut, Seed, or Pinecone – Maybe all Four!
Tropical Fruits: Cacao Beans
Cacao beans, better known as Cocoa, or Chocolate, start by growing in giant seed pods within a fruit that, on the outside, looks similar to an elongated coconut hanging off evergreen trees in the tropics.
It’s rich in antioxidants and it’s an anti-inflammatory, just two of many health reasons for ingesting it, such as triggering chemicals in our brain that are highlighted when we fall in love.
How great did you feel the last time you fell in love? That alone would be the best reason for eating, or drinking, chocolate (100% Cacao) cocoa products, even though this bitter-tasting powder will need some form of natural sweeteners (honey or Stevia) to maintain its natural-healing properties while making it taste better.
Try cocoa powder in your morning coffee (with-or-without cayenne pepper in Mexican tradition), in baked goods, or chocolate candy recipes. But again, I caution you to skip the sugar, using instead honey, coconut sugar, or other forms of natural sweeteners to keep the potent health properties of the Cacao Bean.
Tropical Fruits: Cashew Fruit/Nut
Better known as cashews or cashew nuts, they just might be one of the healthiest, and therefore higher-priced nut/fruits. They contain nutrients good for the blood, bones, eyes, gums, hair, heart, nails, teeth, and the list goes on!
It is also one of the strangest-looking “nuts” hanging from the tree, at the bottom of a gourd-shaped “fruit” called the apple. The cashew apple grows from a cashew seed (which is what we know as the cashew nut), as it’s hanging from the tree. Cashew trees grow best in marshlands.
Hanging from the tree, like a fruit with a nut attached, this seeming abnormality can be eaten in its entirety. And though I’m not familiar with the fragile cashew apple as far as taste or cooking goes, it appears to be widely used throughout South American countries to flavor both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, as well as fermenting it into vinegar.
The bland-flavored Cashew Nuts can be roasted and salted, which make great-tasting snacks. They’re also used in Asian dishes that I’ve tried, such as cashew chicken or beef.
In my research, I discovered just a handful-a-day of these snack-nut treats contain a mood-enhancing nutrient, which may help calm the nerves, fight depression, and treat anxiety naturally. Cashews can also help with weight loss, prevent headaches. They’re also easier to chew than other nuts.
Tropical Fruits: The Coconut
All parts of the Coconut, the fruit, the nut, the seed, and shell are used to make coconut milk, oil, water, sugar, and flaked or shredded coconut.
Even the hard exterior can be aged, and the stringy fibers, when pulled apart, can be used to amend almost any rough or clumpy soil, allowing your garden-veggie roots to aerate, growing larger crops which will produce more.
A fun project your older kids may want to try, as mine did, is opening up a ripe, green coconut, as they come off the tree.
The expat way is to use a clawhammer and rip through the outer green rind, working your way through the brown, stringy, hard shell to the monkey face with its three holes.
Puncture any of those holes, insert a straw and drink the pristine, naturally filtered coconut water found inside.
See attached photos of my son’s tiring attempts at claw hammering through a Coconut.
Once in Belize, we noticed the locals using a machete to hack into the coconut in less than 5 minutes!
And however you choose to open up your coconuts, it’s well worth the full glass of nutrient-dense water with a mildly sweet flavor; it is the perfect, plant-filtered emergency source of water.
I’ve also discovered that coconut water was used during WWII as plasma-replacement injections for remote servicemen to treat dehydration.
But I think the best way to prevent dehydration is by drinking the light, sweet coconut water as confirmed in a short podcast from Health in a Heartbeat; “Can Coconut Water Mimic Human Plasma?”
Tropical Fruits: Coffee Beans
Coffee is not only anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and filled with antioxidants, it also elevates the mood, which creates a happier attitude and longer life. The coffee nut (or bean, in the berry family) when still on the bush, is covered by an edible grape-sized, red-flesh-fruit berry, which I’ve tasted. It had a sweet-tart flavor I quite enjoyed. CAUTION: only try tasting red berries at nurseries, because roadside berries could be fatal if consumed.
The coffee bean/seed inside the berry is what’s dried, roasted, and ground into our favorite morning beverage. As a morning-coffee drinker, I was horrified to hear that coffee beans are one of the most chemically sprayed crops. So I inquired about our Belizean-grown coffees and was delighted to hear that Belize Coffee is grown organically, according to our Agricultural Department. Expats will want to check with local authorities to find out how their Coffee Beans are grown.
Tropical Fruits: Pineapple
The international symbol of hospitality, early explorers named this odd tropical fruit after the pinecone.
The seed is not inside but worn outside in pocket-size nodules. I’ve never sprouted a pineapple with these tiny seeds, but have grown by planting the Pineapple crown into a pot on a sunny porch, or hillside soil with good drainage.
Pineapple is loaded with vitamin C, which lowers inflammation and is great for treating viral infections.
It also makes a fantastic homemade cough syrup that really works and is safe enough for children.
Here’s an easy pineapple beverage, cough syrup, and/or vinegar recipe:
After removing and planting the crown, thoroughly rinse your pineapple, cutting off all outer skin and arranging into a wide-mouth/6-cup Mason/Ball jar.
Save the golden fruit inside to eat, removing flesh from the pithy core (which also goes into your jar), refrigerating your edible fruit.
Add the core and any other parts of the fruit you deem unedible into your jar, add a Tablespoon of honey, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, and cinnamon, and fill to the top with hot water.
Put the lid on tight, allow to cool, and then refrigerate for a couple of days.
Strain through a coffee filter for either a refreshingly cold pineapple-juice drink, or medicinal-free cough syrup.
Leave refrigerated longer to become a lovely pineapple vinegar, when mixed with coconut oil for a tasty vinaigrette-salad dressing.
Tropical Fruits: Is it possible to eat too much fruit?
The answer is; “No, you can eat up 20 servings a day!” And according to the Harvard Health Letter, declaring;
“The nutritional problems of fructose and sugar come when they are added to foods. Fruit, on the other hand, is beneficial in almost any amount.”
What Tropical Fruits will you find on your next expat adventure? Tell us where you landed, and share the Tropical Fruits you found there.
by: Cheri Majors