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Making Magic with Mango

Bring sunshine to your plate and palate with sweet mangoes.

There is something about mangoes. Despite the hustle and bustle of everyday life, eating a mango transports me to a tropical paradise, even if for just a moment. Mangoes, sweet fruits that emulate sunshine, have been tied to myths and legends that span thousands of years and throughout multiple religions and cultures. Their sustainability is a testament to their vitality. They range in color, texture and flavor, and varieties available throughout the states. Even so, mangoes are typically produced in tropical climates and exported from places such as India, the Caribbean, Haiti, and South America (This explains my dreamy, escape -from-reality daydreams).

Whether eaten raw or cooked, as snack, an accompaniment with a protein or in a dessert, vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and fiber help contribute to the fruit's healthy benefits. Extremely versatile, sweet and healthy mangoes can be utilized in sweet and savory dishes. When used in relishes and chutneys, the bold flavors pair beautifully with fish and chicken, and the sweetness of mangoes blends well with Thai flavors, like curry.

But, how can one tell a mango is ready to take home? The nose knows. Check to make sure the mango has a tropical fruity scent. No smell, no taste. And, give it a feel. While a mango that is too soft or bruised needs to be left alone, a ripe fruit will give slightly when touched. What about its color? Some recipes call for golden yellow or green ripened varieties, but most work best with the kind that have a deep red with yellow skin, and just a tinge of green. It is okay though, if unripe mangoes end up in your kitchen. Mangoes can be kept at room temperature to ripen, for up about one week. If needed sooner, place the mango(es) in paper bag. Once ripened, mangoes can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. And, mangoes freeze well, can be dried or puréed.

Mangoes are ideal for smoothies and for ice cream/frozen yogurt. When making smoothies, freezing the mango pieces can replace the need for ice cubes while keeping it chilled. And, adding other citrus flavors, whether fruit pieces or juice, enhances the overall flavor. A smoothie can also act as a double agent. Increase the amount of yogurt, omit the ice, and place the smoothie mixture in an ice cream makers. In no time, the result will become frozen yogurt. How's that for working efficiently?

How do you use mango? What fun recipes have your family enjoyed?

Mango Coconut Frozen Yogurt

1 14-oz can light coconut milk
½ cup sugar
2 cups mango pulp
1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 cup diced fresh (or frozen) mango
Toasted coconut for garnish (optional)

In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk and sugar. Warm over medium heat until the sugar is melted. Remove from heat and let cool. Once the coconut milk is cooled, add the mango pulp and whisk to combine. Add the yogurt and lemon juice and mix well. Stir in fresh mango. Transfer the mixture in an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions. Or, if an ice cream maker is not available, pour the yogurt mixture into a glass baking dish, cover well, and freeze.

Banana-Mango Smoothie

1 banana
½ cup of plain yogurt
1 cup of orange juice
1 cup diced mango
4-6 ice cubes

In a blender, mix banana, yogurt and orange juice until combined. Add mango, then ice cubes. Continue to blend until the mixture is smooth and frothy. Serve immediately.

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