Your instinct might be to run the other way from any ingredient with the word “dragon” in it. (Although if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you might think otherwise.) We’re here to tell you to think of pitaya, more commonly known as dragonfruit, as your “fruit with benefits.” It’s high in vitamin C, Omega-3s, protein, magnesium, iron, and antioxidants and recent studies by scientists in Malyasia also show that the fruit may be beneficial at preventing complications associated with diabetes and could lower the risks of developing heart disease and high blood pressure.
Pitaya grows on a night-blooming climbing cactus found in tropical regions such as Hawaii, Nicaragua, Thailand and south Florida.
Look for pitaya at your local grocer (it’s regularly stocked at Whole Foods) and Asian markets. The fruit is easy to spot thanks to its riotously vibrant fuchsia skin and alien-like green tendrils. Chuck Casano, founder of PitayaPlus likens it to a “flaming pink artichoke.”
Keep your eyes out for multiple varieties—the pink skinned-white fleshed, the yellow skinned-white fleshed and our favorite, the pink skinned-red fleshed variety. Whatever the color, the skin is not edible, and the inside is loaded with little black seeds that resemble sesame seeds (think kiwis). Just peel and slice or slice in half and eat with a spoon. You can tell if it’s ripe by how soft the skin is, so think of it as an avocado. If you want to eat it today, choose one that is soft but not mushy. If you want it for tomorrow, choose one that is firm to the touch.
For on-the-go snacking, we’re wild for Navitas Naturals sun-dried organic dragonfruit slices, which concentrates the flavor into a delicious, chewy sweetness.
Since we’ve started using PitayaPlus’s frozen pitaya cubes (with no added sugar) our smoothies have never been more beautiful. PitayaPlus also makes organic, non-GMO frozen smoothie packs that make blending a breeze. Try this recipe for a Dragonfruit, Coconut Milk, and Banana Smoothie today.
- 1 cup peeled, sliced dragonfruit (pitaya)
- 1/2 frozen, peeled banana
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup skim milk
- 1 tablespoon white chia seeds
- 1/4 teaspoon fresh cinnamon
- In a high-speed blender, add 4 ice cubes and all of the ingredients. Blend on high for 30 seconds, or until ice is completely chopped and ingredients thoroughly incorporated. Serve in a gorgeous glass!