This is a special post to honor the wonderful pineapple, known in every other language in the world as ananas in French and similar names around the world. 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, however. 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 that 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 byproduct of the canning process. However, 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 above 120 degrees Fahrenheit will break it down and nullify its benefits. Canned pineapple is heat-treated to more than 212°F so that 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 and has a wide array of beneficial properties, including boosting the immune system, lowering hypertension, 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 ideal 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 very 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 afterward. However, if you’re having some friends round, consider making up an entire 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 is all about freshness.
- 1 fresh pineapple
- 1 sprig fresh mint
- 2 cups ice
- Agave syrup, to taste
- Cut the top and bottom off the pineapple. Hold the pineapple firmly and cut off the outer skin downward carefully onto a chopping board, following the curve of the fruit.
- Cut the flesh away from the central core, but don’t throw the core away.
- Chop the core finely as this will help it to blend, and the softer outer flesh can be chopped roughly.
- Blend the flesh and core as much as you can with a hand blender or food processor ― if you have a juicer, this is ideal for the job.
- Remove the solid parts with a strainer, Leaving only fresh pineapple juice. Squeeze out as much of the juice as you can and discard the remaining solids.
- 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.
Makes: Around 2 1/4 cups/600 ml (12 shots)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
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 chili pepper, 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 you are grilling the pineapple, it is fine to use the canned variety. If you do have access to some fresh pineapple, this can be chopped up and added to the salsa to gain the benefits of eating the fruit raw too.
The smoky and caramelized flavors from grilling the pineapple combine beautifully here with the fresh crunch of baby gem lettuce and a little kick from the chili pepper. If you are sensitive to chili peppers, add a little at a time until reaching the desired taste and heat level. However, if you can handle it, the capsaicin that gives the peppers their heat is also a potent anti-inflammatory.
- 4 heads of little gem lettuce
- 1 15-ounce can pineapple rings in juice
- 1 red onion
- 1 red chili pepper (seeds removed)
- 1 small bunch cilantro
- 1/2 cup fresh pineapple
- 1 lime
- Salt, to taste
- Cut the base off the little 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.
- If you have a grill going, this would be an ideal time to grill the pineapple rings. You can also get a griddle pan smoking hot on the stove and grill the pineapple rings until you have grill marks on each side.
- While the grilled pineapple slices are cooling, dice the onion, chili pepper and cilantro and add to a bowl with the shredded lettuce.
- 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.
- Season with salt and a squeeze of lime but be careful not to make the salsa too tart.
- Serve the salsa inside the lettuce cups.
Makes: Around 20 salad cups
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes
Sugar-free Pineapple and Apple Cupcakes
Do you 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 generally 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 terrific match for the pineapple and suitable for promoting good cholesterol. Coconut oil is available in most food stores. However, if you can’t find it, substitute it 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 an afternoon snack and watch out for the astonishment on the faces of your family and friends when you tell them there is no sugar in these delicious morsels.
- 1/2 cup agave syrup
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups gluten-free flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 apples, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1/3 cup pineapple juice, from can
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 can pineapple rings, or fresh pineapple, if possible
- Preheat the oven to 350°F
- Beat the agave syrup, coconut oil and eggs, and then add vanilla.
- Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl and mix well.
- Combine the wet and dry ingredients until incorporated fully, being careful not to overwork the flour.
- Add the apple and pineapple juice and mix gently.
- Place cupcake liners into a baking tin or grease it lightly with vegetable oil spray. Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases so that they are 2/3 full.
- Bake for around 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Let the cakes cool on a wire rack. Top with pineapple pieces and a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Makes: 16 cupcakes
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
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