I was sitting in my friend’s lush, tropical-style garden recently, admiring her beautiful collection of flowering bromeliads. These are very exotic looking plants with spiky leaves and red, pink or golden elongated flowers reaching out from the middle. They are native to the tropics of Central and South America and West Africa. In a colorfully glazed pot there was a miniature ornamental pineapple. I remembered that pineapples are also bromeliads and this got me thinking about how much I enjoy pineapple and the wonderful things pineapples do for your health.
Pineapples are second only to bananas as Americans’ favorite tropical fruit and for good reason. They have a wonderfully sweet-tart flavor and though in peak season from March through June, they are available in supermarkets year-round. An interesting fact about pineapple is that they are actually clusters of ‘fruitlets’ all attached to a fibrous core. Each fruitlet is marked by a spiny ‘eye’ on the skin of the pineapple. Also, if you have a sweet tooth, eat your piece of pineapple sliced from the base—that is where the sugars concentrate.
Pineapples are also a favorite age-defying FoodTrient. Here’s why:
Pineapple is so versatile! With summer on the horizon, I love to put it on the grill. It’s delicious with chicken, shrimp or fish. Try mint and lime juice sprinkled on fresh pineapple—it’s a light, wonderful dessert or snack. In my cookbook, FOODTRIENTS – Age-Defying Recipes for a Sustainable Life, there is a recipe for Papaya Salsa, but it’s just as delicious with fresh, juicy pineapple.
This refreshing relish will help boost your immune system and keep your skin young and elastic. Pineapple is rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene, which your body converts to vitamin A. It’s also high in potassium. Certain enzymes in pineapple aid digestion. Use this salsa on grilled meats and fish, such as Grilled Swordfish in Secret Marinade, and it’s also delicious as an appetizer with whole-grain chips.
YIELDS about 4 cups
2 cups cubed fresh pineapple
¼ cup seeded and chopped red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped red onion
1 tsp. minced garlic
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ tsp. seeded and chopped jalapeno pepper (optional)
2 Tbs. lime juice (about 1 lime)
2 Tbs. lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon.