Because Life’s Too Short for Boring Eats!

Carrie sipped her coffee, adjusted her headphones, and turned on the mic. “Welcome, adventurous foodies and curious taste explorers! Buckle up because our favorite food as medicine expert, Annie, is back to introduce us to the wild, whacky world of unusual yet healthy foods.

Annie, I must admit, when I saw your list, I was stumped because I had not heard of them. So let’s dive right in and learn all about – banana ketchup?”

Annie laughed. “Thanks for having me back, Carrie. LJ and I have been fans of unusual yet healthy foods for a long time. Why bother with the ordinary when you can enjoy the extraordinary? The foods I will discuss today are unconventional and can expand your palate, surprise your senses, and nourish you.”

“I’m always game for a new food adventure, Annie, but many people are rather conservative with the food they eat, so what would you say to motivate someone to try unusual healthy foods?”

Food adventures are not for everyone, but I recommend trying something once; you may find new nutritious food that contributes to your health. And there are other reasons:

Flavor Adventures: Forget vanilla (unless it’s Madagascar vanilla bean ice cream). These foods are like flavor passports. One bite, and you’re jet-setting to distant lands—whether it’s the umami explosion of century eggs or the sweet tang of banana ketchup.

Nutrition Thrills: These oddballs aren’t just show ponies; they’re nutritional powerhouses. Black garlic moonlights as an antioxidant superhero, while Huitlacoche flexes its protein muscles. Your body will do the happy dance for this menu upgrade.

Conversation Starters: Picture this: You’re at a dinner party, and the conversation hits a lull. Suddenly, you drop the bombshell — “Guess what? I had black sapote for breakfast!” Cue wide eyes and newfound respect. You’re the life of the party, my friend.”

 

“I’ve been accused of being the life of the party for corny jokes and lame one-liners, but never of an unusual dish. So, what’s the next move? How do we get the ball rolling?”

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it,” said Annie. slyly. “Is to taste test these samples I brought today. This first one is Filipino Banana Ketchup, a sweet and tangy condiment that closely resembles tomato ketchup in flavor. As you know, bananas provide potassium, Vitamin C, and vitamin B6. Another benefit of banana ketchup is its low sugar content compared to tomato ketchup, and bananas provide dietary fiber. It is traditionally used on Filipino beef omelets, French fries, and garlic fried rice.”

 

“Wow, I wasn’t expecting this,” quipped Carrie. She leaned back in her chair, holding the sample. “You know, it kind of dances on my taste buds with a sweet backbone and a hint of tanginess. The vinegar and spices give it that familiar ketchup kick, but the banana aspect adds a juicy layer. It’s like a flavor fiesta in my mouth! I would definitely eat this again.”

“That’s quite an endorsement, Carrie. If you like that, perhaps you’ll enjoy Black Garlic. It’s fermented garlic with a sweet molasses-like flavor. It’s not pungent like raw garlic. Fermentation makes it soft, spreadable, and antioxidant-dense, supporting immune system function and cardiovascular health. It’s delicious as a topping, in sauces or dressings.”

Carrie sipped water and tasted the black garlic. “It has sweet, sour, and smoky flavors. Imagine the mixing of balsamic vinegar and caramelized sugar. The cloves rebel and create a sweet and sour taste. It’s not just garlic; it’s a mix of amazing flavors!

“Great, now this next one requires everything you ever knew about smut and discard it because this Huitlacoche, also known as Corn Smut, or a more palatable name, Mexican truffle, is a Mexican delicacy fungus that grows on corn kernels. It has a dark, velvety appearance and a unique earthy flavor. Huitlacoche is a nutrient powerhouse with high magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium. A flavor revelation: mushroom with sweet corn and earthiness. Packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants, and essential nutrients. More protein than corn and more lysine than wheat = muscle building and immune support!

“Okay, so you’re asking me to bite into smut. I’m only doing this because we are friends, and I trust you,” said Carrie, as she bravely took a bite. “Mm mm, Huitlacoche is intensely earthy, nutty, and” she paused as she chewed, “mushroom-like. The sweetness from corn adds a harmonious touch. It’s like nature is having a party in my mouth!”

“I love your descriptions, Carrie. Have you ever heard of the Century Egg, also known as Pidan, in Chinese culture? Although they are called “century eggs” or “thousand-year-old eggs,” they are not centuries old but created by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for three months. Once peeled, the eggs reveal a dark, jelly-like egg white and a soft green yolk – quite different from your typical hard-boiled. Each century egg contains about 92 calories, 7 grams of fat (with 2 grams saturated), and 8 grams of protein. They’re a source of essential nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D.”

“Okay, here we go,” said Carrie as she peeled the egg. “Listeners, it’s definitely gelatinous, and the yolk is dark green. I see you included a bit of ginger to go with it?”

“Yes, when served cold, ginger is a traditional condiment to help balance the egg’s rich flavor. They can also be served with soy sauce or a garlic dressing.”

“Hmmm, this could actually be my favorite. The egg is flavorful. It delivers an intense earthy taste with subtle nut and mushroom notes.  It also reminds me of ripe blue cheese.”

“We’re switching gears with this next sample,” said Annie as she showed Carrie a long cylindrical plant with thin green leaves that resembled a white carrot. This is Salsify, also known as the Oyster Plant. Some say it has a mild flavor reminiscent of oysters. Others say it reminds them of artichokes. No matter the taste, it is delicious cooked several ways. I recommend wearing gloves when prepping Salsify to avoid getting its sticky juice on your hands.  I sauteed this sample for you. Salsify is in my category of unusual yet healthy foods because it is low calorie, supports the immune system, controls blood pressure, and promotes better hair growth because of its copper and iron content.

Carrie bit into the sample. “This is delicious. I could see it mashed or baked and served as a side dish to protein and a salad. Or added to a stew. If this helps grow hair and controls blood pressure, I may make Salsify a weekly dish at home.”

“It is a good example of food-as-medicine,” laughed Annie. “This next sample is dessert.”

“No kidding! You also have an unusual yet healthy dessert? I can’t wait to try it.”

“I do indeed. This is Mamey Sapote. For the listeners, it resembles an almond-shaped melon. When you slice it open, it has a deep orange-to-red flesh with a large nut. It is indigenous to Mexico and South America but also grown in Florida. Sapote is only 130 calories per fruit, a good vitamin C and potassium source. It is a healthy source of fiber, antioxidant-rich, and good for your skin. The best way to enjoy Sapote is by eating it out of its shell, in a smoothie, or as a pudding. I made this Baked Sapote pudding for you.”

Carrie closed her eyes as she savored the pudding. “Listeners, this is like a velvety custard with a tropical twist. I’m getting a blend of pear and banana with a hint of vanilla. It’s rich yet light and smooth, with a decadent vibe.

Annie, thank you for this amazing and delicious experience.”

“You are welcome. These foods may be intriguing and unusual, but they provide nutritional benefits, and isn’t that the point of eating?

“Indeed, okay folks, don’t be a food wallflower. Try these unusual gems and up your nutrition game because life is too short for bland meals. From now on, make every bite an adventure, and remember: Normal is overrated.”

 

Annie and LJ are a fictional couple. Their storyline promotes healthy eating and earth-friendly practices.

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