Two New Fruits

March 18, 2012

Last weekend, I tried a delicious fruit that I never tried before: the sumo tangerine. This weekend, I ended up trying two new fruits… how my heart races just typing that sentence!

FRUIT #1: Cara Cara Oranges. I picked these up last weekend at the farmers market. Cara Caras are a variety of navel with a bit of a mysterious past: they’re likely a cross between two other navel varieties, but only one, the Washington navel, is known for certain. Cara Caras were “discovered” in Venezuela in the mid 1970s, and have only been available in the United States since the late 1980s, so they’re a relatively new fruit to the fruit scene. The new fruit on the block:

The distinguishing characteristic of a Cara Cara is that the flesh is pink, as opposed to orange. My Cara Caras weren’t overly pink – I’d say they had a pinkish hue, as opposed to being fully pink, like some pictures I’ve seen online. Even so, the flesh is a very pretty color.

They’re tasty, too. I’m not enough of a citrus connoisseur to describe the taste in too much detail, but they were very sweet and less acidic than other oranges I’ve tried. Oh, and very juicy, too. I bought three Cara Caras, and I ended up eating one, and juicing the other two. And because I busted out my little juicer, I ended up juicing two other pieces of citrus I had lying around…

BONUS FRUIT! Blood Oranges. I’ve bought and enjoyed blood oranges before, and they are a gorgeous piece of fruit. The name is fitting – the insides are the color of blood!

My two blood oranges were tiny – the size of large limes – but I juiced both of them, as well as the two remaining Cara Caras, and ended up with a delightful little blend of fresh-squeezed OJ.

One of the best glasses of OJ I ever had!

FRUIT #2: Mini Kiwi. There’s a Trader Joe’s right next to my new gym, and after my Saturday workout (5 minutes warm-up on treadmill, 45 minutes lifting weights, 16 minutes adaptive motion trainer), I wandered in to purchase some pre-hard-boiled eggs as my post-workout protein fix. I wandered TJ’s a little, and stumbled upon this package, which immediately caught my eye:

I didn’t think twice before buying these guys! They’re cute little buggers:

When I held them in my hand like that, I couldn’t quite imagine what the insides looked like, so imagine my surprise when I started slicing them open, and…voila! They looked like kiwis!

How cool is that?!? I love these things! They taste like kiwis, too, and you don’t have the hassle of peeling them, like you do kiwis. I did a little research, and found a great article about their history. They’re native to China, and they were first found in the 1800s, but they were never cultivated very widely as a crop, because they were difficult to harvest, didn’t ripen consistently, and spoiled quickly, which made transportation a bitch. But scientists in New Zealand worked on it, and they’ve cross-bred mini kiwis to be hardier and easier to pick.

I definitely recommend both the Cara Cara orange and the mini kiwi… I wonder what new fruit I’m going to find next?

Keep it up, David!


Finger Limes and Calamondin

December 25, 2011

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas! Mine was great: the gifts I gave resulted in excitement and appreciation, and I got some great gifts myself. There were lots of laughs and good times with my family, and I didn’t overeat to the point where I fell into a food coma or wanted to unbutton my pants – which have both happened in the past, many many times.

The gym I’ve been going to in Michigan was closed on Christmas day, but I had great workouts for the four days leading up to Christmas. After the gym on Christmas Eve morning, I went to Plum Market, an amazing local grocery store with three Detroit-area locations, for some last minute shopping for dinner that night.

The produce department at Plum is beautiful, and even though I only needed a couple items from it, I wandered the whole thing, and I’m glad I did, because I stumbled upon two new things that I’d never seen before.

Item #1 were finger limes, and in this case, it wasn’t the produce itself that caught my eye, but the price tag:

FIFTY BUCKS A POUND? For produce? Are you kidding me? All I wanted to do was toss a couple in my cart, but this boy’s on a budget, and I need to save some more pennies before making an investment like that! Usually I take a ‘buy now, research later’ approach to produce investigation, but in this case, I think the opposite approach is in order. I know, I know, they’re tiny, and buying one or two would only cost a few bucks, but still. I need to know what I’m getting into!

I’ve learned a little about finger limes since them. Todd, one of my Facebook followers (follow me on Facebook here!), told me about a wonderful iPhone app called Specialty Produce, which has all sorts of information on fruits and veggies (duh). Here’s what’s written about finger limes:

“Known as ‘the caviar of citrus,’ these tiny digit-shaped limes are practically in a category all their own. Their aromatic skin appears in a triad of colors and the flesh holds caviar-shapes vesicles that pop crisply in your mouth with an assertively tart punch. The flavor is a lemon-lime combination with herbaceous undertones.”

Another website describes them as having “A caviar-like appearance and… a delightful pop rock texture.” Pop rock texture? Caviar or citrus? Vesicles? Damn, I wish I bought a finger lime! I’m keeping my eye out for these when I get back to California. Have you had one? What did you think? Share, share, share in the comments section!

Item #2 were calamondins, and at first, I thought these were the tiniest tangerines ever:

Until I saw the signage – and look, they’re much more reasonable than finger limes!

If you’re a fruit with a nickname like ‘sour bomb,’ how can I not eat you? Plum Market gets big-time bonus points for this informational placard – thanks for doing my research for me!

See that part at the bottom about asking a staffer for a sample? Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret if you promise to not tell Plum Market management: I just ate one, without asking for permission. Shhhhh! Don’t tell on me!

Sour bomb is actually a perfect description – it’s like a kumquat on steroids. I definitely puckered from the sourness, but it wasn’t overwhelming. I liked it!

I did a little more research and learned that the calamondin is native to southeast Asia, and there’s some mystery as to its history. Call Nancy Drew! Scientists have figured out that calamondrin is an ancient hybrid, but they can’t identify the precise parent plants. It’s thought that it’s a mix of something from the citrus family with something from the kumquat family, but there’s a lot of head-scratching when you delve for more details.

Turns out the calamondin is a wonder fruit! Check out some of the ways (beyond eating and cooking) that the people of the Philippines and Malaysia use them:

  • Frozen whole, as ice cubes in beverages
  • Rub the juice on insect bites and abscesses to relieve itching and irritation
  • To clear up acne and bleach freckles
  • The juice, when diluted, can ease constipation
  • As an anecdote for poison
  • As an phlegm expectorant (when combined with pepper)
  • To remove ink stains from clothing
  • And, lastly, as a hair conditioner

And, like other citrus fruits, it’s high in vitamin C!

It’s been a good week for trying new foods. A few days ago, I tried moose meat for the first time, as well as apple pears (read my blog about both here), and now, I can add calamondin to the list!

Keep it up, David!


Citrus!

August 22, 2011

How was your weekend?  Mine was fantastic.  It was jam-packed.  It was fantastically jam-packed.  I saw three and a half movies, attended a kick-ass barbeque, had a great brunch, and saw a fun Cirque Du Soleil show.  Add in a workout in the little gym in my building, and a run with my cousin, because those happened, too.  And now it’s ending with me sitting at my dining room table, across from Kenlie, who’s hanging out at my house.  I can’t complain about my weekend at all.  I hope you can’t either.

Remember last week, when I wrote about the limes I plucked from my friend Emily’s lime tree?  I also mentioned in that post my friend Robyn, who has a variety of fruit trees in her backyard, including lemon trees that she thinks are about a month away from being overflowing with lemons.  It turns out her other trees, a meyer lemon tree and a tangelo tree, have plenty of ripe fruit, so the other day I headed over there and stocked up on some citrus.

Here’s Robyn and me:

We’re on her front porch, and her head is blocking out a few digits of her address, but she is totally a ten.  I’m sure her hubby Jake would agree.

I made two new friends at Robyn’s house:

Robyn’s dogs are adorable.  Here’s an action shot – they both loved licking me (what can I say?):

On to the backyard!  Robyn and Jake have 3 or 4 lemon trees, the meyer melon tree, and the tangelo tree.  Meyer lemons are a hybrid of lemons and oranges, and a tangelo is a hybrid between a tangerine and a grapefruit.  Whether or not the tangelo tree is actually a tangelo tree is not entirely certain, it’s Robyn’s best guess (they haven’t lived there too long yet).

The lemon trees:

They have lots of lemons, but they’re still green and growing:

Here’s something I did not know about lemon trees: they have thorns!  Check out this bad boy:

Those trees are covered in them.  Ouch.

There’s one more lemon tree on the other side of the yard that had a few lemons that were ready to go, so Robyn grabbed a few for me while I headed over to the meyer lemon tree:

I pulled a handful of these beauties, and then Robyn got out her picker pole thingie, and I picked some fruit from the possibly-a-tangelo tree.  An action shot:

Here’s my bounty, in one of Robyn’s baskets:

The basket would be perfect for Little Red to load up with sweets and take to Grandmother’s house, don’t you think?

OH! There’s one more tree in Robyn’s backyard that I forgot to mention, and it was completely ready to be harvested.  It’s a rare protein powder tree.  Check out what I plucked from its branches:

It’s been a good season for protein powder trees – that specimen is 4.6 pounds.  I should take it to the county fair and enter it in a contest.

OK, you got me, protein powder doesn’t grow on trees.  But Robyn did give it to me.   A while ago, she became vegetarian, and got that tub as a protein source, because she was concerned that she wouldn’t be getting enough protein.  She made a lot of protein shakes and protein smoothies, but then, more recently, she transitioned from vegetarian to vegan, and had to give up the protein powder, because it has egg- and whey-based ingredients in it.  She thought I might provide a good home for the remaining contents, and so it ended up in my car along with the citrus.

This is the first time I’ve ever had protein powder in my house.  I’ve been good, throughout this whole weight-loss process, of getting protein from food (egg whites, jerky products, fish, chicken, beans and dairy being my biggest sources), so this is all very new to me.  Having another protein option around seems like a good idea, especially if I need something quick before or after a work-out, so we’ll see how much I use it.  I’ve tried it once, and it was OK – it reminded me of the shakes I used to make 5 times a day when I was on a liquid diet in college, but that’s a whole different blog post.

In the meantime, I have a giant tub of protein powder sitting on my counter, because it’s too big to fit in my limited cupboard space, and a big bowl of citrus that I’m slowly making my way through.  I wonder if I juice one of the tangelos, and mix it with the vanilla protein powder, if the resulting drink would taste like an orange creamsicle?  It sounds like that would taste either really good, or terribly bad.

I wonder which it will be.

What do you all like to do with your protein powder?  Any kick-ass smoothie or drink recipes out there?  Share in the comments section!

Keep it up, David!


A Third Way To Eat a Pummelo

February 28, 2011

Previously on Keep It Up, David: Inspired by a tweet sent out by fellow weight-loss blogger Julia, I bought a pummelo, and hacked it apart and consumed it in a manner I learned from a YouTube video (which I can also thank Julia for tweeting, so thank you!).  After blogging about it (read the post and see the pictures here), another blogger, Reinaldo, suggested another way of eating pummelos, so, when I bought my second pummelo, I ate it that way (and blogged about it, with pictures and everything, here).

Guess what?  I bought my third pummelo, and used a third method to eat it!  To refresh your memory, here’s what a pummelo looks like:

It’s the biggest citrus fruit in the world.  Bigger than navel oranges, bigger than grapefruit.

My friend Nicolette suggested, in a comment on the blog, that I try eating a pummelo like she eats a grapefruit.  Since pummelos are very similar to grapefruit (in that they’re big and sour, although not quite as sour), I thought I’d give it a whirl.  Turns out the way she eats grapefruit is the same way I ate grapefruit growing up.  My mom used to prepare grapefruit for me and my siblings this way when I was little (which she learned from her mom), but I haven’t eaten a grapefruit this way in years and years (I’ve bought grapefruit in the past year, and gotten free grapefruit from my friend Tavi’s tree, but I’ve just been juicing them).

Here’s what you do:

1) Cut the pummelo in half, around its equator, so to speak:

2) Using a paring knife, cut around the perimeter of the flesh, separating the edible part from the rind:

3) Then cut on either side of each membrane that radiate from the center to the outside:

(By the way, taking these photos with my left hand while cutting with my right was no easy feat!)

4) Once you’ve cut along both sides of each membrane, you’ll easily be able to lift individual segments of pummelo out with a spoon:

Mmm, pummelo!  Growing up, my mom would sprinkle a tiny bit of sugar on the grapefruit before doing all the cutting, just to sweeten it up a bit.  She also had grapefruit spoons – spoons with serrated tips that were especially designed for digging out grapefruit sections.  Here’s what a grapefruit spoon looks like (although my mom’s don’t have hideous handles like this one does):

After I ate all the segments, I squeezed all the juice into a glass:

Here’s my juice bounty:

I took about half of it, and added it to a tall glass of sparkling water that I made with my SodaStream, and voila! Pummelo-flavored sparkling water!

The other 1/2 of the pummelo juice I chugged, like it was a shot.  Delicious!

I like this method of pummelo consumption, mainly because it’s easy, relatively tidy (you don’t end up with puddles of juice on your plate or counter), and, for me, there’s a nice nostaglia factor.

Anyone else out there got any fantastic pummelos ideas?  I’m definitely planning on buying a fourth pummelo… help me figure out how I’m gonna eat it!

Keep it up, David!


Platinum Card AND Another Pummelo

February 19, 2011

I got a little something in the mail the other day – a Platinum card.  While I do have good credit, it’s not a new Visa or MasterCard – it’s from Casual Male XL:

I’ve been a long-time member of Casual Male’s Rewards program – basically, every time I spent a couple hundred bucks there, I’d get a gift certificate for $10 to use on my next visit.  As Casual Male XL was one of the two Big and Tall stores in my area, I was getting those gift certificates a couple times a year.  Now, it seems, they’ve targeted me for a bigger, better Rewards program.  Apparently my spending habits make me an ideal candidate for their Platinum Prestige Program – at no cost to me! There’s just one problem – I’m done with Casual Male XL.  I stopped shopping there about 6 months ago (read my open letter to them after shopping there for the last time), because after losing so much weight, I found I could shop pretty much anywhere I wanted, which, by the way, is an incredible feeling after not being able to shop at many places at all for so many years.

I still get, however, mailings from Casual Male XL, and I’m still technically a member of their Rewards program, and I still get their catalogs.  I get lots of Big & Tall catalogs, from a bunch of retailers.  One arrives, on average, about once a week.  For a while I was using them to create a little humor on the blog (read all the Big & Tall Catalog Model Drama installments by going to My Favorite Posts and scrolling down), but now, I’m just getting sick of them.  Here’s my current catalog collection (which I was holding on to in case I wanted to use them somehow for the blog):

Bye-bye catalogs!  You have a hot date with the recycle bin in your future.  I’ve also added to my to-do list calling each company and removing myself from their mailing list.  I’m done with big and tall!  Done!

Moving on…

Earlier today I ate my second ever pummelo.  Earlier this month, I documented, on this blog, how I went about eating the first one (which was a process, but completely delicious), and I got great feedback from some of you about how you love pummelos, and I also got a suggestion I wanted to try, from Reinaldo.

Reinaldo is a fitness blogger in Chile, who has lost a bunch of weight and writes about his process.  While Spanish is his native language, he blogs in English, which he taught himself – very impressive!  Check out his blog here.  He suggested eating a pummelo this way:

Easier way to eat them tip: just slice it! Like you would slice a tomato into little “wheels”. Then dig in into the fruit’s meat with your mouth, and discard the outer ring. Messier (because of the juice), but a lot more faster and fun.

I bought another pummelo last week and decided to give it a go.  Here’s the pummelo after I started cutting it into wheels:

But that picture doesn’t really give you any sense of scale, so here’s one wheel, with my hand in the picture, too:

That’s a big pummelo!  The first couple pieces I ate like Reinaldo suggested – digging into the flesh with my teeth, standing over my sink, letting the juices dribble down my chin.  So tasty!  But I wanted to enjoy the rest while watching TV (because I watch a lot of TV), so I took a few more slices, cut around the inside of the outer peel to separate the peel from the flesh, and cut out the little core, too:  I put them on a plate (don’t they look pretty?), and you can see the peels in the background:

In total, I’d say I spent 5 minutes chopping apart this pummelo, compared to, I don’t know, 15 minutes the first time around?  I love a good time saver, so thank you Reinaldo!  I’ll be enjoying many more pummelos this way, I’m certain of it!

Keep it up, David!


Pummelo

February 8, 2011

Last week, I purchased a pummelo at Whole Foods.  It was the first time I’ve ever bought a pummelo, after learning about it a few days prior on Twitter from Julia, another weight loss blogger (read her blog here).

Yesterday, I ate the pummelo, and documented the process with my camera.  ‘Process’ is a good word, actually, because it ain’t easy to eat a pummelo, but it’s worth it!

Here’s the pummelo, just a-sittin’ on my counter:

It was big.  Bigger than a grapefruit, bigger than a softball, not as big as a basketball, but definitely the biggest non-melon piece of fruit I’ve ever held in my hands.  I’ve seen mini-watermelons and cantaloupe that are smaller.  I didn’t weigh the pummelo, but I’ve read that they routinely get anywhere between 2 and 4 pounds, and can get as big as 20 pounds!  They’re the largest citrus fruit in the world, and some people (fruit scholars, I suppose?) think they’re the forebear of grapefruits.  Here’s some other pummelo fun facts:

  • Pummelo, pommelo, and pomelo are all accepted spellings for the fruit, and it has many other names as well, including Chinese grapefruit, shaddock (after the guy that introduced the fruit to the West Indies from Asia), and jabong.
  • The pummelo is native to southeast Asia, and the Chinese believe that pummelo is a sign of prosperity and good fortune.
  • In the Philippines, pummelo segments are often dipped in salt before being eaten.  Sounds good to me!
  • There are two restaurants in San Francisco called Pomelo, and their menu looks amazing.  Has anyone been?

I was planning on just peeling and eating the pummelo, until I saw this YouTube video (that Julia shared on Twitter).  I basically followed what the guy in the video did – I’ll walk you through it.

First, I sliced off the very top of the pummelo, then scored the skin into a big giant X, so you can pull the skin away from the flesh on the inside:

The skin is very soft and spongy and thick, almost like a marshmallow.  Here’s the flesh of the pummelo fully separated from the skin:

Then I started breaking the pummelo down into segments.  You have to separate and peel ever- membrane from in-between every segment, which takes a while.  This particular pummelo had pretty narrow segments, so it took me a few tries before I was able to peel a segment and get one on a plate all in one piece (more or less):

Ta-da!

The pummelo was delicious.  It was milder than a grapefruit, but still sour, although not bitter.  It was juicy, and it just kinda fell apart in my mouth (although maybe that was because the segments were so narrow).  Various online nutrition guides say that about 1/4 of a pummelo equals a serving size (with 60-72 calories and almost double your Vitamin C needs for the day), but I ate the whole thing.  I stopped taking pictures because my fingers got so sticky and wet with pummelo juice, but after I was done, I took one final picture of the damage – because pummelos leave behind a lot that goes in the trash or compost bin:

I’m definitely buying more pummelos.  You should give one a try, too!

Keep it up, David!


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