This is a special post to honor the wonderful pineapple, known in every other language in the world as ananas or similar! The reason we call it pineapple dates back to the arrival of the first Europeans in South America, where the fruit originated. They chose the name due to its spiny resemblance to the conifers back home.
To celebrate the exotic fruit, I have devised three fun snack recipes that are easy to produce and great for a healthy, active lifestyle. They are low in processed fats and sugars and full of helpful anti-inflammatory properties mainly thanks to the magical pineapple!
The wonders of bromelain
Pineapples are popular across the world for their balance of sweetness and tartness, this is what makes them so delicious and useful in both savory dishes and desserts. There’s more to them than that though. Pineapples contain high levels of bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme widely used to treat sports injuries, arthritis, and even cancer and heart disease.
Bromelain is so powerful it is used as a meat tenderizer and can be purchased as such in a powered form. Bromelain is usually extracted from the stem of the pineapple, the harder, stringy central column, the stem being a bi-product of the canning process. But bromelain is present in all parts of the fruit. These recipes will attempt to use as much of the fruit as possible, to maximize the benefits they offer and minimize waste.
One thing to note is that the bromelain enzyme is destroyed by excessive heat; anything over 120°F will break it down and nullify its benefits. Canned pineapple is heat-treated to over 212°F, so it won’t carry the benefits of fresh pineapple, and it won’t taste as good either. However, it is a convenient alternative to fresh pineapple so use it if needed. It still contains the other benefits present in the fruit.
Pineapple is an excellent source of Vitamin C and manganese
Like most fresh fruit, pineapples are high in Vitamin C, with its wide array of beneficial properties including boosting the immune system, lowering hyper tension, and generally keeping your body fit.
Pineapples are high in manganese which is helpful in maintaining good bone structure and bone metabolism, and building bones. Manganese also contains a co-enzyme to assist with vital metabolic activity in the body.
The health benefits are fantastic then, but the fun part is the wonderful flavors and colors the pineapple has to offer and I aim to bring these to the forefront with these recipes.
Pineapple and mint energy shots
This refreshing summer drink brings out the best of fresh pineapple and is perfect for a sunny barbecue or garden party. I utilize the super sweet core of the pineapple and natural sweetness within the whole fruit to balance out the tartness, but you can use a little agave syrup for extra sweetness if you prefer, or if your pineapple is not so ripe. Agave syrup works brilliantly as it dissolves more easily than sugar in cold drinks, so can be added at the end to taste. It is also a sweeter alternative to sugar so less needs to be used, reducing the calorie count. Plus, it’s a great vegan alternative to honey.
I serve the drink in the form of energy-boosting shots which would be ideal between exercise or as a tasty recovery drink afterwards. But if you’re having some friends round why not make up a whole pitcher to share. The drink could also be served long with the addition of soda or tonic water but this recipe is for an intense fresh pineapple hit.
I would advise using fresh pineapple for this recipe for the health benefits discussed above but also for the flavor. Cooking or heating (when canning) the pineapple changes the flavor profile and this recipe (with the mint) is all about freshness.
Makes around 2 ¼ cups/600 ml (12 shots)
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
1 fresh pineapple
1 sprig fresh mint
2 cups ice
Agave syrup to taste
1. Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple. Hold the pineapple firmly and carefully cut off the outer skin downwards onto a chopping board, following the curve of the fruit.
2. Cut the flesh away from the central core, but don’t throw the core away!
3. Chop the core finely as this will help it to blend, and the softer outer flesh can be chopped roughly.
4. Blend the flesh and core as much as you can with a hand blender or food processor (if you have a juicer this is perfect for the job).
5. Sieve out the solid parts and you will be left with the fresh pineapple juice. Squeeze out as much of the juice as you can and discard the remaining solids.
6. Taste the juice to see if you would like to add any agave to sweeten it up. Sweeten as necessary and serve with torn mint leaves and ice cubes on a beautiful summer’s day!
Grilled pineapple salad cups
These refreshing snacks are great for summer parties or can be served on the side as part of a meal. They would go well with some grilled fish or meat, perhaps with a spicy rub or marinade.
Grilled pineapple is combined with chilli, cilantro and lime and packed inside fresh lettuce cups to create a handy little canapé that can be picked up and eaten in one bite!
Because we are grilling the pineapple, it is fine to use the canned variety. If you do have access to some fresh pineapple (maybe some leftover from the energy shots), this can be chopped up and added to the salsa to gain the benefits of eating the fruit raw too.
The smoky and the caramelized flavors from grilling the pineapple combine beautifully here with the fresh crunch of baby gem lettuce and a little kick from the chilli. If you are sensitive to chilli just add a little at a time until it tastes as you desire. However, if you can handle it the capsaicin that gives the chilli’s their heat is also a potent anti-inflammatory; no pain, no gain!
Makes around 20 salad cups
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
4 baby gem lettuce
1 can of pineapple rings in juice
1 red onion
1 red chilli (seeds removed)
1 small bunch cilantro
½ cup fresh pineapple (if possible)
Salt to taste
1. Cut the base off the baby gem lettuces and separate the leaves. Some will be too big or too small to serve as a cup, but these can be shredded and added to the salsa.
2. If you have the barbecue going this would perfect for grilling the pineapple rings but if not get a griddle pan smoking hot on the stove and grill the pineapple rings until they are nicely colored on each side. A bit of char is ideal, this is where the flavor is!
3. While the grilled slices are cooling, you can get on with the rest of the prep. Finely chop the red onion, chilli, and cilantro and add to a bowl with the shredded lettuce.
4. Once the pineapple has cooled, dice it into small chunks and add to the rest of the ingredients. Now is the time to add any fresh pineapple you may have.
5. Season with a little salt and a squeeze of lime but be careful not to make the salsa too tart, as the pineapple already carries some sourness.
6. Serve the salsa inside the lettuce cups for a tasty summertime snack.
Sugar-free pineapple and apple cupcakes
Fancy a sweet treat without the sugar? Of course you do. These pineapple cupcakes use the natural sweetness of the pineapple and apples plus a little agave syrup to replace the mountain of processed sugar that normally goes into baked treats.
I have used coconut oil instead of processed vegetable oil, which could be made from any vegetative matter. The coconut flavor is a perfect match for the pineapple and is great for promoting good cholesterol. Coconut oil is available in most food stores but if you can’t find it, substitute with neutral tasting oils or butter.
The apple and pineapple also provide a wonderful moistness to the cakes. For this recipe, you can use canned pineapple. Choose the pineapple canned in juice, rather than syrup, as this has added sugar. It can then be topped with fresh pineapple to gain the benefits of eating the raw fruit, or use the canned pineapple if you don’t have fresh.
Try these for a tea-time treat, and watch out for the astonishment on your guests faces when you tell them there is no sugar in these delicious morsels!
Makes 16 cupcakes
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
½ cup agave syrup
1 cup coconut oil
1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups gluten free flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 apples (¼ inch cubed)
⅓ cup pineapple juice (from can)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 can pineapple rings (or fresh pineapple if possible)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
2. Beat the agave syrup, coconut oil and eggs together until well mixed then add the vanilla.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and mix together.
4. Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until fully incorporated being careful not to overwork the flour.
5. Fold in the cubed apple and pineapple juice.
6. Place cupcake cases into a baking tin. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases so they are 2/3 full.
7. Bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
8. Let the cakes cool in the cases then take out and top with pineapple pieces and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
If you want to know what foods will help you restore your natural vitality and get slim and stay slim while ending your muscle and joint pain, then check out the Best Foods That Rapidly
Rick Kaselj, MS