Sunday, August 1, 2010

Superfood #3: Starfruit

Move over apples and oranges! The new star of fruits is here and it happens to be Malaysia's humble home-grown starfruit! Scientifically known as Averrhoa Carambola, starfruit is the king of fruits in terms of vitamin content. There is a whopping 25.8mg of vitamin C in 100g of fruit; enough vitamin C to keep colds at bay and complexions glowing. It is also considered a "super fruit" as it is rich in antioxidants and flavonoids which are good for the immune system. Only 30 calories per fruit, it is high in potassium and fiber, low in sugar, and naturally sodium and cholesterol free. Absolutely a perfect ingredient for a healthy diet!

Several tips on how to choose a delicious starfruit is to look for a fresh starfruit that is firm, shiny skinned with a fairly bright yellow colour and light tinges of green. It is normal for the ridges of the fruit to have slight brown colour to them. It is possible to buy unripe, green fruit and ripen it at home. Simply wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for 2 to 3 days or until it turns yellow with a light shade of green. Unwashed, ripe starfruits can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 1 week.

Starfruits are best consumed when ripe. They are great to eat out of hand as these tropical delights do not need to be peeled or seeded before eating. It is recommended, however, to trim each rib and remove the brown edges which can be bitter. Then simply wash and slice it crosswise into attractive star-shapes, and eat!

In Malaysia, starfruits are prepared in various ways. They are processed into pickles, sauces, cordials, jams and preserves; dehydrated as dried fruit, used not only in fruit and vegetable salads but also in poultry, meat and seafood dishes. With its sweet-sour and refreshing taste, starfruit makes a great marinade and salad dressing. They are also used in chutney and salsa and added in stews. They are blended to make a starfruit smoothie or we simply enjoy its fantastically refreshing juice all on its own.

Starfruit is also appreciated by the locals for its healing properties. They use it as a traditional medicine to relieve insomnia and constipation, reduce blood sugar level and prevent high blood pressure by boiling several starfruits in water, reducing it to about one cup and drinking it warm every morning and evening - a great way to detoxify and eliminate toxins and wastes from inside your body!

Next time you do your grocery shopping at your local supermart, remember to buy some! Add its goodness to enhance your yogurt and cereal or blend with avocado to make a tangy dip. For a texture and flavour balance, combine with sweet soft fruits like bananas and mangoes to make a delicious smoothie. Roast or grill them and serve alongside poultry or seafood dishes. Use them in pies, tarts and cakes. Soon enough you will realize that not only is it a sight to behold but is also highly nutritious and truly a super fruit!

Enjoy the goodness of starfruit as part of your heathy daily diet today!
Superfood #2: Strawberries