Ingredient of the Week: Mango

Ingredient of the Week: Mango

The king of fruit or mango, is arguably my favourite fruit. It is a tropical fruit, so can only be grown in warmer climates and is native to Southern Asia, but is now also commonly found in the Caribbean, Mexico and the USA. When myself and Neil went to Jamaica on holiday I got really excited by the prospect of fresh mango everyday, but unfortunately we never saw one fresh mango the whole time we were out there because it was the wrong time of year for them. Their season is from April to July and we went in November.

A typical mango is oval in shape, between 10-15cm in length, and is predominantly yellow in colour, although the skin can have green and reddish hues. They grow on trees that can grow over 30m in height and are from the same family as pistachios and cashews. They are most popularly found in Indian cuisine, as it is their national fruit.  Indians believe the mango is a symbol of life. It is commonly made in to a chutney, served as an accompaniment to curries or other Indian dishes. Their sweetness has a calming effect on anything spicy.

Mango is available in many forms including fresh, frozen, tinned or dried. Personally fresh is the best tasting but frozen is very handy as it eliminates the preparation process. Tinned is ok so long as you make sure it is canned in juice rather than syrup to avoid additional sugar and calories. Dried makes a convenient and tasty snack, but be careful not to eat too much of it as the sugar content in dried fruit is much higher than in fresh.

Why is it good for me?

Mangoes are a brilliant source of both vitamin A and vitamin C, which are needed by the body to stay healthy and strong. They are involved in the formation of hair, skin and nails as well as bones and muscles. They are both antioxidants and so help fight infection and disease, while also repairing any damage to the body. Like carrot, due to its high vitamin A content, mango is good for maintaining healthy eyes, while like cauliflower, the Vitamin C found in mango helps the body to absorb iron. 

Like parsnip and pear, mango is a good source of potassium, which helps to control water balance in the body, keeping it at optimal hydration and helping the kidneys to function correctly. It has also been discovered that some of the enzymes found in mango are very beneficial to our gut. They not only help to keep everything regulated, but also can help reduce any inflammation while maintaining a healthy environment for good gut  bacteria to flourish. For more information, read my previous blog on Looking after your Gut.

How do I prepare it?

Mango can be quite tricky to prepare as you need to slice the flesh from the central stone. You also need to remove the skin as both the stone and skin are inedible. Fortunately I have a really handy tool from Lakeland that helps me to prepare it really easily. It is a bit like a cookie cutter in that you hold the tool over the mango and it stamps out the stone, leaving two hollowed out ovals of mango.

I then, using a sharp knife, slice the mango in to thin strips and then comes the most tricky part. I separate the skin from the flesh by carefully gliding the blade of the knife between the skin and the flesh. As I need to feel what I am doing with this, I also have to have my fingers very close to the blade and I do admit, often the blade does slip and catch my fingers, so its best to go slowly so that you don’t do any damage.  I enjoy eating mango way too much for the thought of a slightly nicked finger to put me off, but no-one wants their mango to be covered in blood.

How do I cook it?

Mango doesn’t need to be cooked for it to be enjoyed. It is delicious mixed in to a fruit salad or served on its own with some Greek yogurt. It is naturally very sweet and so does not need any additional sweetener for it to be enjoyed. However, it is also delicious when cooked. You can simply grill or barbecue it in order to get some lovely caramelisation round the outside, or add it to a rice pudding or sponge. It can be blended or juiced in to smoothies, frozen in to ice cream or sorbet, whipped in to yogurt or cream, and even sprinkled on top of porridge or muesli for breakfast. There is no end to what mango can be used in. 

Fruit in savoury dishes does definitely split a crowd, but I’m definitely for it. Mango has a naturally tenderising quality which makes it a fabulous addition to marinades and sauces for any form of meat, but especially steak. Its sweetness makes it a great accompaniment to anything spicy. Try it in a curry like this chicken, lentil and mango one or diced in to a salsa and served alongside this spicy rice dish.

My favourite way to enjoy it is in a salad like this smoked salmon poke bowl. Quite often hotels we stay in when training or racing serve it freshly sliced as part of their buffets and if that is the case I will eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I just can’t resist it and I love to end any meal with something sweet like dessert, and mango ticks all the boxes while also being healthy. 

Do you enjoy including mango in your diet? Or are you put off by its tricky preparation process? I’m sure there are many tips and tricks to make the process much easier and so if anyone has any, then please do share below.

Thank you for reading and speak soon.

Lora



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