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It looks alien-like and can grow as massive as 100 pounds, but the nutritious jackfruit can play a starring role in both sweet and savory dishes. The two most common forms available are ripe jackfruit, with a sweeter flavor perfect for desserts and smoothies, and young “green” jackfruit with a firmer, more neutral taste, making it a great meat substitute.
Here are five ways to use this ultra-versatile tropical treat to boost your health.
1. As Ab-Slimming Tacos
At a mere 45 calories per cup, underripe young jackfruit can serve as a calorie-stingy meat substitute for your next taco night. And research shows that people who nosh on more fruit gain less flab in the first place.
Pulled Jackfruit Tacos: Drain 1 can green (young) jackfruit, pat dry and shred. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add jackfruit and saute 5 minutes. Add ¾ cup low-sugar barbecue sauce, 1½ tablespoons water and 1 teaspoon paprika. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, pulling jackfruit apart as it becomes tender. Divide mixture between 4 corn tortillas and top each with ½ cup baby spinach, ¼ cup pineapple chunks, 1/3 cup shredded carrots and dollops of sour cream.
2. As a Heart-Healthy Smoothie
Jackfruit is a good source of vitamin C, a nutrient linked to lower blood pressure and better heart health because of its antioxidant properties.
Tropical Jackfruit Smoothie: Blend together 1 cup coconut milk, 1 cup jackfruit (fresh or canned), 1 scoop plain or vanilla protein powder, 1 tablespoon cashew butter, 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice, 1 teaspoon fresh ginger and 1 small frozen chopped banana.
3. As a Good-Gut Curry
An investigation in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that higher intakes of fiber — like that found in unripe jackfruit — acts as a prebiotic, nourishing and bolstering those beneficial gut bacteria.
Curry in a Hurry: Add 1 chopped onion, ½ teaspoon salt and 2 teaspoons oil to a large pan and cook over medium heat until soft. Add 1 can green jackfruit (drained and chopped), 3 chopped garlic cloves and 1 tablespoon chopped ginger; heat 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder, ½ teaspoon cayenne and ½ teaspoon black pepper and stir. Add ¾ cup coconut milk and 1 cup pureed tomatoes, and simmer 20 minutes. Stir in juice of ½ lime and serve topped with chopped cilantro and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds.
4. As Craving-Crushing Pops
Since ripe jackfruit is so sweet, you can use it to tame a sweet tooth minus the pitfalls that come with eating too many refined sugars, including an increased risk for mental conditions like depression.
Jackfruit Pops: Blend together 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1½ cups ripe jackfruit, 1 tablespoon honey, zest of 1 lime, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and pinch of salt until smooth. Evenly distribute mixture among popsicle molds, insert sticks and freeze 8 hours.
5. As an Energizing Vegan Salad
Jackfruit contains riboflavin, an important component of the coenzymes involved in the breakdown of food into energy.
Jackfruit “Tuna” Salad: Drain and rinse 1 can of young (green) jackfruit and pulse in a food processor until chopped into small pieces. Mix with ¼ cup vegan mayonnaise, 1 chopped celery stalk, ½ cup chopped red onions, 1 diced and seeded plum tomato, 1/3 cup chopped parsley, juice of ½ lemon, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Serve on bread or large lettuce leaves.