Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Dragon Fruit: Science for Kids in the Kitchen

Well, not exactly science but a lot of fun and education while spending some quality time with your young ones.

My wife, Cherie and I love to expose our children to new experiences. One area of great entertainment is with exotic and new foods. As a chef with a vast knowledge of foods and how to prepare them my professional education is transformed into a fun activity for all of us. I am not saying you need to be a chef to enjoy this activity with your children rather my enthusiasm for food is where this ritual sprung from.

As a learning and bonding experience for you and your children consider the very inexpensive and practical idea of experiencing a new food. Taking you kid(s) to the farmers market, grocery store or roadside stand, allowing them to pick out a fruit that is interesting to them (I suggest fruit for vegetables might need cooking which takes time and effort. Vegetables are great to introduce new foods at meal times but for this quick snack activity fruit is the better choice) and then take the fruit home where you can all taste the fruit while researching it's origins and qualities online or in a book. This activity will leave your child(ren) with a broader palate and understanding of foods and the cultures they come from. Tasty and educational!

My youngest son, Elliott and I were poking around a neighboring town when we happened upon an Asian market. Oh I was in heaven; live spot prawns, carp and sea snails. Aged duck eggs, fresh yuba skins and a big pile of Dragon Fruit. We picked one up and headed home.

When my step sons, Noah & Bailey came to our house after school we gathered around our kitchen table to taste our new fruit.

Pitaya Fruit, more commonly know as Dragon Fruit is a strikingly exotic fruit and very nutritious being significantly high in fiber, water and vitamin C. Although primarily usually stereotyped as an Asian fruit the Dragon Fruit hails from the Central and South Americas. There are several unique varieties of dragon fruit with different colors inside and out to match, however they all share the same critters for their unusual nocturnal pollinating.

To learn more on the fun & nutritious Dragon Fruit visit dragonfruitpitaya.org.

We were all impressed with the black polka-dotted white flesh of our dragon fruit. The contrast from the magenta skin makes this fruit most appetizing and curious. Upon tasting the fruit which is relatively mild in comparison to it's appearance the kids were less than thrilled however after some more tasting and conversation about the fruit everyone had developed some kind of appreciation for the fruit.

I asked each of the tasters what they thought the Dragon Fruit tasted like and whether or not they would ever eat it again. Here are their answers;

Cherie was a strong maybe for eating the fruit again, "it's like a jicama flavored kiwi."
Noah was sure he would seek the fruit out again to eat, "it's like a kiwi but not as sweet."
Bailey, a firm no on ever eating dragon fruit again said, "I don't  know what it tastes like. It's like, nothing."
Elliott who is 2 years and 4 months was currently on a food strike and would have nothing to do with it. Do not let his reaction persuade your opinions on trying this fruit. He will only eat popcorn.

Noah with a Yes vote!

Bailey with a definite No vote!
Elliott's for Popcorn.

Dragon Fruit Cooler 
Serves 4

2 Dragon fruit (pitaya), peeled
2 Tangerines, peeled and segmented
2 Kiwi fruit, peeled and core removed
2 Limes, juiced
2 leaves fresh basil
4 leaves fresh mint
1/4 Cup Raw sugar or raw honey
2 Cups sparkling mineral water, chilled
2 Cups crushed ice cubes


  • Place all your fruit into the bottom of a blender along with the lime juice.
  • Next add your raw sugar or raw honey topped with your fresh basil and mint.
  • Lastly add your sparkling water.
  • Blend starting on low to avoid an explosion slowly increasing the speed to high. Blend until smooth.
  • Lastly pour in the crushed ice and quickly blend for 5 seconds.
  • Pour into glasses. Garnish with a sprig of mint and enjoy.

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