Guava: Chasing away winter blues with tropical fruits
On a day when a good portion of the country is dealing with ice and snow, myself included, I know many are daydreaming about tropical getaways. Today may be just the type of day to impel you to make a real getaway happen. Whether or not you do, you can chase away the winter blues tonight by enjoying something tropical. Today, I'm going for guava. Oh I know that tropical fruits don't fit into local eating plans, especially in winter, but sometimes you just need to taste that sunshine.
Go for guava for physical and mental health
Guava - on the off chance you don't know it - is a sweet, pink tropical fruit that is not only rich in tropical taste, but also in vitamins A and C (one variety has four times as much vitamin C as an orange!), potassium and magnesium. Some varieties have extremely high levels of antioxidants. The guava plant itself is a member of the myrtle family and it is grown in tropical and subtropical regions. While mature plants may be able to survive a short cold snap, younger plants cannot. Guava is definitely a warm climate treat for visitors to tropical locales and a succulent staple for the locals.
Guava is delicious and versatileGuava is lovely fresh, but it's also terrific as a juice, or processed into syrups, jams, jellies, or even tea. Guava wood can add unique flavor to tropical barbecues along with guava in the actual barbecue sauce, and it can be substituted for tomatoes in some dishes. Guava salsa, anyone?
One of my favorite ways to enjoy guava in the winter is as a paste. In a tin or a box, guava paste is available in the international foods area of many big markets. A little slice with some cream cheese on a cracker is a great every day snack - or dress it up and pair it with artisanal cheeses (brie, chevre, others) on a slice of a crusty baguette.
Cheese and guava paste appetizers
1. Slice the cheese into thin wedges. The wedges should be thin enough to eat easily, but not so thin that they crumble, try 1/8-inch.
2. Cut wedges of guava paste just slightly smaller than the cheese and place on top. Arrange on a tray and serve.
Sweet potatoes with guava glaze
6 large sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into cubes, and parcooked
1 cup guava jelly
1 tablespoon butter
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a rectangular baking dish with the cooking spray. Spread the still hot cubes of sweet potato out in the baking dish.
2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the jelly and butter together until it becomes a thick syrup. Drizzle the syrup over the sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Bake 15 minutes, toss the sweet potatoes again, and bake another 15 minutes.
Guava grilled and glazed chicken
Serves 6 to 8
1/4 teaspoon five spice powder
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup oyster sauce
6 ounces guava concentrate
1 clove garlic, crushed
1. Whisk together the five spice powder, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, oyster sauce, guava concentrate and garlic. Marinate the chicken in the mixture for at least 4 hours, but preferably overnight. Drain the chicken and grill until done.
2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinade over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook about 5 minutes. The sauce will reduce. When the chicken comes off the grill, glaze it with the cooked sauce. Serve with lime wedges to cut the sweet, if desired.
Note: If you can't find guava concentrate, used guava paste, but cut the sugar by one third. You can also add more guava paste, to taste.
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