A new series, in which we tell you what to do with that thing you have no idea what to do with (or even what the heck it is). It could be a food item, a piece of gym equipment or even a part of the body. You just never know what might be next.

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Dragonfruit

What Is It? Also known as the pitaya or pitahaya, this fruit belongs to the cactus family. It’s known for its brightly-colored exterior of leathery pinkish-red hued exterior (although some are yellow) with green leafy scales and an interior flesh that consists of a white, creamy pulp with small, black seeds that look like poppy seeds. It resembles the consistency of kiwi fruit. Typically cultivated in Mexico, production of the fruit has extended to South East Asia, Hawaii, Australia and the Middle East.

Is It Healthy? Yes, it’s considered a “super fruit.” The juicy flesh of a dragonfruit is low in cholesterol, and high in vitamin C, B1, B2, B3, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus and natural antioxidants. Its high levels of fiber give it a reputation for its cleansing properties of the digestive system as well helping to regulate diabetes. The seeds of the dragonfruit do include a small amount of fats, but they are the healthier mono-unsaturated kind and the seeds also act as a good source of protein. There are upwards of a thousand seeds per fruit so unlike most fruits, you cannot get rid of them. Dragonfruit has also been known to help with joint-issues such as arthritis, due to its designation as an anti-inflammatory fruit.

Perhaps surprisingly, one of the most versatile uses for the dragonfruit is for skincare. Making a paste out of the flesh and yogurt has been known to help with aging skin, acne and sunburn.

What Do I Do With It? The flesh of the dragonfruit is sweet and the seeds nutty. The flesh can make for a surprising addition to a fruit salad, but its most popular use is in drinks.

To make a delicious, healthy smoothie you will need:

  • One dragonfruit
  • One banana
  • One lemon
  • One cup of coconut water
  • One tsp ginger paste
  • One scoop of vanilla ice-cream (optional)

Combine all the ingredients into a blender and serve when blended to a smooth consistency.

For something a bit different, however, try this recipe for dragonfruit soda.

  • One pink dragonfruit
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Simple Syrup
  • Soda water

Scoop the dragonfruit flesh into a blender flesh and process until smooth. Strain it through a sieve to remove as many seeds and solids as possible. Poor over ice and add lime juice and syrup to taste before topping off with soda water. Why not add a dash – or several, let’s not kid ourselves – of your favourite clear liquor like gin or vodka for an incredibly-refreshing summer alternative to lemonade?

So You’re Saying I Should Use It? Yes, definitely. It’s tasty, healthy, and can be used to make delicious drinks that you’ve likely never even considered before.

Where To Get It: Most fresh greengrocers will sell it. Likewise the fresh food department of a supermarket is likely to have them in stock, even when they’re out of peal season (which is summer and early fall). However, you may have to try and source them at a specialty Asian of Latin American store if your local shops don’t quite got this exotic.