The Mango smoothie is everywhere these days, interesting when just a few short years ago it used to be that a majority of people have never tried a mango before and they will be pleasantly surprised at its wonderful sweet taste. The bonus to its taste is that the Mango is a storehouse of vitamins & nutritional benefits.

The delicate, juicy insides of the mango pack a nutritional punch. Its characteristic orange color is a clue to its storehouse of beta carotene (Vitamin A). Ripe mangos hold the highest levels of beta carotene, while green mangos are higher in Vitamin C. These antioxidant carotenoids are known for their protective power against certain cancers. Mangoes also supply ample potassium, making them ideal for hypertensive patients or anyone looking to replenish energy after physical activity.

Mangoes are high in antioxidants, low in carbohydrates (although they are about 15% sugar – but good sugar!) and like other yellow/orange fruit such as pumpkin and carrot; they are an excellent source of beta-carotene (Vitamin A). They also contain Vitamin E and selenium which help protect against heart disease and cancer. You can obtain 40% of your daily fiber intake from a mango. We all know the importance of fiber in our diets.

If you are eating your mango-a-day, irregularity is not a problem for you and a true benefit to any gastro intestinal care. Research has shown that dietary fiber also has a protective effect against

Degenerative diseases, especially with regards to the heart and may help prevent certain types of cancer, as well as lowering blood cholesterol levels. 

Should you be heading somewhere warm and sunny for Spring break….Mangoes are an ideal summer food as they are high in many carotenoids, which has a protective affect against the harmful rays of the sun. Research indicates that even in older people, sun tolerance is increased when Beta-Carotene intake is increased.  Mangoes also contain B-complex (anti-stress) vitamins, magnesium, potassium, Folic acid and zinc.

Mangoes are very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium.

Selecting the ripeness of mangoes can be determined by either smelling or squeezing. A ripe mango will have a full, fruity aroma emitting from the stem end. Mangoes can be considered ready to eat when slightly soft to the touch and yielding to gentle pressure, like a ripe peach. The best flavored fruit have a yellow tinge when ripe; however, color may be red, yellow, green, orange or any combination.

The ideal post-harvest storage temperature for mangos is 55º F. When stored properly a mango should have a shelf life of 1 to 2 weeks. I have found that the best way to ripen a mango is at room temperature, on the kitchen counter and if you wish to accelerate the process place in a paper bag overnight (some people place an apple with the mango in the bag to create more natural ethylene gas and further decrease the ripening time).

Once ripened the mango can be refrigerated for a few days, but should be used shortly thereafter.  The versatile mango can be used in every facet of cooking from beverage, breakfast fresh fruit, mid-day snack, salsa, sorbet, side dishes and savory accompaniments….and on a cold Illinois snowy day; it is a true taste of sunshine.

Here is a great smoothie recipe consisting of strawberries, bananas, peaches, fruit juice and ice. Feel free to substitute or add any of your favorite fruits or juices.

1 quart strawberries, hulled

1 banana, broken into chunks

2 peaches cut up

1 cup orange-peach-mango juice

2 cups ice

Directions: In a blender, combine strawberries, banana and peaches. Blend until fruit is pureed. Blend in the juice. Add ice and blend to desired consistency. Pour into glasses and serve.

If there is a seasonal fruit that you enjoy, definitely replace this for one that’s in recipe. Having a good variety in your diet will not only prevent dietary boredom from sinking in, but will also offer you a wider array of nutrients. Take advantage of frozen fruit, as it is particularly good in smoothies and helps add a thicker consistency to the drink. 

Cool Chicken Tacos

 12 hard yellow corn taco shells

 1 small head romaine lettuce (about 2 cups shredded) 

 1-2 limes, divided

 1/2 cup mayonnaise

 2 tsp. ground cumin

 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

 3 cups diced grilled chicken breasts

 1/2 small jicama

 1 small mango

 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro

 1/4 tsp. salt

 1 avocado, peeled and sliced

Prepare taco shells according to package directions; set aside. Shred lettuce. Zest limes to measure 1 tsp. Juice limes to measure 3 tbsp. Place zest, 1 tbsp. of the juice, mayonnaise, cumin and cayenne pepper, if desired, in Mixing Bowl; mix well. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the sauce into reseal able plastic bag; twist to secure and set aside. Add chicken to remaining sauce; mix well.  Peel jicama and mango. Slice jicama and mango into 1/4-in.strips. Chop cilantro. Combine jicama, mango, cilantro, salt and remaining juice; mix well. Place lettuce into taco shells. Top evenly with chicken mixture, jicama mixture and avocado, if desired. Trim corner of sauce-filled bag; drizzle over tacos.

And if you’re still avoiding meat on Friday…

Tropical Shrimp Kabobs

For sauce:

1 can (6 ounces) pineapple juice

1/3 cup packed brown sugar           

4 teaspoons cornstarch

1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar                  

1 tablespoon soy sauce                    

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger             

For Skewers:

1 medium green bell pepper             

1 medium red bell pepper

1 medium onion                               

1 cup fresh pineapple chunks          

1 cup fresh mango cut in chunks

1 pound large raw shrimp, peeled and deveined           

1-1/2 cups hot cooked rice

For sauce, combine juice, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and ginger in saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture comes to a boil and thickens, stirring frequently; set aside.  

For Skewers: Prepare grill for direct cooking. Cut peppers and onion into 1-inch squares. Thread peppers, onion, pineapple, mango and shrimp onto 10 metal skewers. Place kabobs in large glass baking dish. Brush sauce over kabobs.  Place kabobs on grill. Grill 3 to 4 minutes. Turn and brush with sauce; discard any remaining sauce.  Grill 3 to 4 minutes more or until shrimp turn pink and opaque. Serve with rice. 

Best of Cooking,  Denise

  Denise Murray, now a 15-year resident of Forest Park. (Lived on the North shore of Chicago for 3 years prior, and a Southwestern before that) comes to us with over 33 years working in Food Service....

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