Try some of the more unusual fruit and veg in season this month – and check out the latest healthy products on the shelf.
Also known as the melon pear, pepinos are about the size of an apple, with smooth yellow skin sporting purple streaks. The juicy, pale yellow flesh surrounds a cluster of inedible seeds and tastes like a cross between rockmelon and honeydew. Pepinos should feel firm and heavy for their size and have a mildly ‘tropical’ scent. For a sweet treat, peel and chop a pepino, then purée flesh with a little lime juice until smooth. Swirl through natural yoghurt, then serve over fruit and sprinkle with chopped pistachios. A 100g serve of pepinos has only 101kJ and 70% of your RDI for vitamin C.
For many people, redcurrants signify summer – they are often a part of Christmas dishes, and are available between December and March. These small, shiny, bright-red berries have an intense, tart flavour and, for this reason, are most commonly used in cooking, as opposed to eating raw. When purchasing, make sure the berries are still attached to their stalks, and keep them attached until you are ready to use them. They contain just 234kJ and a whopping 4g fibre per 100g, and are also a good source of vitamin C. Use them to make jams, jellies and sauces or combine them with other fruit in tarts. They also they pair well with roast meats.
Durians are large fruit covered in green to yellow-coloured sharp, pointed spikes. Inside, they're split into five segments, with each segment containing several inedible seeds. Durians emit a strong, distinctive (and to some people, offensive) odour, but devotees claim it’s worth it for the delicious fruit that hints of butterscotch, almond and honey. They’re available December–May.
Ripe durians should feel relatively light for their size, with thick, solid stems. The skin should not have any holes, although ripe ones may have split slightly. Thanks to the distinctive smell, they’re best eaten as soon as possible after purchasing! To prepare durian, insert a knife into one of the fracture lines that run from the stem to the base and lever it open.
Per 100g, durians contain 615kJ, 3.8g fibre and two-thirds of your RDI for magnesium.
For a sweet Asian-style drink, purée durian flesh, then stir through a little skim sweetened condensed milk and add ice cubes.
Similar to potatoes (and very popular in Polynesian cuisine), these large tubers have dark brown skin, with white flesh that is flecked with pink. They're bland (and quite fibrous) when eaten on their own, but they absorb the flavours of other ingredients beautifully. Use taro much like you would a potato, by peeling off the skin, then slicing, dicing or grating the flesh and cooking. Taro is available all year round, and when stored away from light, will last for up to two weeks. Add it to soups, casseroles or vegetable dishes, or slice them thinly to make chips. Per 100g, taro has 595kJ, is low-GI and contains 22% of your daily manganese requirements.
Other products to try
'Free' falafels and burgers: With no preservatives or additives, these Larderfresh gluten-, wheat-, dairy- and egg-free falafels and burgers are already cooked, so you only have to heat and serve. As an alternative to your usual vegie burger, try the Roast Pumpkin & Chickpea burgers (they are made using legumes, meaning they are a good source of fibre). You’ll find Larderfresh foods nationally in foodstores, delis and cafés.
Laughing Cow Deli-Light: This low-fat soft cheese spread has the thick, rich taste of regular Laughing Cow products, but with only 7% fat. It also contains just 103–107kJ and 56–63mg calcium per portion. Available in Blue Cheese and Tomato & Basil flavours, use it to liven up your sandwiches, spread on crackers or serve it with sliced fruit.
Special K Dessert Inspired Bars: Low in fat and with less than 100 calories (418kJ) per bar, these snack bars have become an instant favourite in our office. They come in two flavours: Lemon Meringue Pie and Berry Cheesecake.