Produce Picks: Pineapple

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Pineapple on a wooden background

One of Christopher Columbus’ many discoveries during his voyages was the pineapple, found on Guadeloupe Island in the Caribbean. They are low-growing plants whose hundreds of tiny flowers become fruitlets that join around the core to form the fruit. Pineapple has many health benefits. Its significant amounts of bromelain, an enzyme, may help ease inflammation, aid in digestion and potentially even suppress coughs. Just beware if you eat the entire pineapple: Its acidity may leave you with a sore tongue!

Nutrients

One cup of raw pineapple contains 82 calories, 2 grams of fiber and 1 gram of protein, and it is an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. Pineapple is also a good source of thiamin, vitamin B6 and copper.

Textures and Flavors

In its raw form, pineapple is sweet, fibrous and acidic. It functions beautifully, however, in condiments, in baked goods and even when grilled. Heat unveils its buttery, rich sweetness and helps to break down its fiber. In relishes and salsa, pineapple contributes a sweet, crunchy tanginess.

Its versatility lends itself to a variety of cuisines. Caribbean spices like cumin, chile, paprika, nutmeg and thyme add “kick” to balance with the sweetness of the fruit, while Central and South American cuisine incorporates chiles, fresh onions, cilantro and pork. American recipes like kebabs and grilled meats pair perfectly with the juicy fruit when it is added to marinades, as the acidity breaks down the meat and promotes charring on the grill. Pineapple simply grilled on its own is equally delicious.

Food Pairings:

Pineapple + coconut + macadamia nuts

Pineapple + other tropical fruits + bananas + strawberries

Pineapple + cilantro + jalapenos + spices (cumin, paprika, nutmeg, thyme)

Pineapple + vinegar + peppers

Pineapple + avocado + lime + honey

Pineapple + ham + hot mustard

Pineapple salsa, cooled (red bell pepper + jalapeno + tomato) + seafood

Pineapple + brown sugar + butter

Pineapple + coconut + hazelnuts

Recipes:

Healthy Carrot Muffins

Mango, Strawberry and Pineapple Smoothie

Mango Pineapple Juice

Mascarpone with Raspberry and Pineapple

Mini Pineapple Upside-Down Cakes

Through his book and blog, Death of the Diet, Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, empowers people to live the life they want by integrating healthy eating and physical activity habits into their daily routines. You can follow him on Twitter @JMachowskyRDFit.