Fascinating Dragon Fruit (or Pitaya)

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Fire-breathing dragons may only be found in storybooks, but dragon fruit is real, and can be found today in your local Vietnamese or Asian markets.


Legend tells us that this fruit came from dragon-breath! Now doesn't that sound tasty? Apparently, after dragons had a long day of battling and breathing out fiery darts, the last thing to come out were dragon fruits. 


Aided by records kept by the Aztecs, it is believed that dragon fruit originated in South America. I thought it was fascinating that out of all the pterosaurs (flying reptilian dinosaurs), the largest type known, with a wingspan of 40 feet, was called Quetzalcoatlus, after the Azetc god. So, maybe the dragon fruit really is something these dinasaurs liked to eat and then coughed up after getting winded! 


Has that story convinced you to give dragon fruit a try? Well, perhaps knowing the health benefits will help. Packed with antioxidants and fiber, the fruit also contains protein, calcium, B vitamins, C, and phosphorus. This nutritious fruit is a great addition to an anti-cancer, anti-diabetes and cholesterol-lowering diet.


Recently, I went to my local Asian market and decided to give dragon fruit a try. At home I kept looking at it, thinking to myself, "What do I do with this funky fruit?" I finally peeled it:


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Then I cut it open…


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I compared it to the dried dragon fruit I had also purchased…


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… and I wondered why MY dragon fruit was white inside while the dried dragon fruit was bright red all the way through. I did a little research online and discovered that there are 2 types: white and red. 


Although many people rave about the delightful, sweet taste, I have to admit that this particular dragon fruit was not terribly sweet, and had a very subtle and boring taste, with the consistency of a rather ripe kiwi. Next time, I'll ask someone in the market to help me pick a good one! I did read that the red ones are sweeter, so I'll look for those. 


I decided this fruit would need to be disguised somehow, and one of the best ways to disguise something healthy but not so delicious, is in a smoothie! Out with the Vitamix.


I pulled out a few ingredients I had on hand…


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and created the following, very tasty smoothie that still provided me with all of the wonderful health benefits of the dragon fruit. I think it was rather pretty too. Now I'm ready to go out and save the world… or a damsel in distress!


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Dragon Fruit Coconut Smoothie


1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup water

1 frozen banana, broken into chunks*

1/2 cup red grapes

1 T. shredded coconut

1 T. ground flaxseed (or chia seeds)

Optional: 1 scoop whey or other protein powder

4-5 slices dragon fruit, plus 1 more slice for garnish


* To freeze bananas, always peel first! Then you can freeze the whole banana or break into chunks before freezing for easier use.


© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™