Pitahaya (pitaya) is gaining notoreity as it rapidly makes its way onto the latest superfoods list.
Also known as dragon fruit, this night-flowering cactus is native to Mexico and Central and South America and also cultivated in several Southeast Asian countries that include Vietnam, Malaysia and south China. You can easily find it right here in San Juan – street vendors, the local market and even Pali grocery store sell pitahaya.
Studies show dragon fruit is a significant source of antioxidants, which can prevent free radical damage that can lead to premature-aging and disease. The seeds contain omega-3 fats. A great deal of research shows that omega-3 fatty acids can fight inflammation and autoimmune diseases. Dragonfruits are high in fiber, so regular consumption can help avoid constipation, improve your digestive health and help you reduce weight. Because of its ability to lower blood glucose levels naturally, those suffering from diabetes can also benefit from eating dragon fruit. In addition to calcium, pitaya contains a host of other nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), carotene, phosphorus, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), iron, protein, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), carbohydrates, fibre and Vitamin C. The Vitamin C in dragon fruit enables it to help build the immune system and heal bruises and cuts naturally. It also acts as a natural detoxing agent, because it is able to help the body neutralize substances like heavy metals.
Still need a reason to eat pitahaya? It is delicious, filling, and blends well with other fruits and vegetables to make refreshing juice, smoothies and sorbets:
To make the sorbet, I modified a recipe from here.
- 2 large dragon fruits, cut into small chunks and then frozen
- 1/2 cup pitaya juice, freshly blended (you could probably use any juice and tweak the flavour if you’d like)
- 3/4 cup Greek yogurt, or any whole yogurt (but not fat-free). You can buy Greek Yogurt from Nelly at the Saturday Farmer’s Market or from Gato Negro.
- 1/4 cup sugar (this was more than enough sweetener and you could probably use much less – also consider trying with honey or agave).
- Wear an apron! Pitahaya’s beautiful color also stains!
- Put all the cut and frozen dragon fruit pieces, the juice, the Greek yogurt, and sugar in a blender and mix. The mixture should have a consistency of a dip or a smoothie. If it is more of a liquid than a dip/smoothie, then put in additional Greek yogurt. Use only as much juice as you need to lubricate the blender and get the ingredients mixed. Blend again.
- Take the blended mixture, pour into a bowl and put the bowl in the freezer. Stir every half an hour to ensure that crystals don’t get formed. Your sorbet is ready in a few hours!
Kid tested, mother approved: