Natural fruit paletas with watermelon and Tajín

Natural paletas made with watermelon and TajínEvery kid I know loves paletas—and every mom I know wants to reduce the amount of sugar in their kids’ diet. With summer upon us, I’m already seeing watermelon everywhere in the farmers markets and grocery stores. I love watermelon and would eat it for three meals a day if I could, so I’ve been getting more creative with how to use it. These are especially great on a really hot day! A bonus: Because these natural paletas aren’t like traditional popsicles, they’re much less likely to drip and stain clothing if that’s an issue with your kids.

And you don’t need to have kids to enjoy these simple paletas! You can honor your inner child or summer cravings for a popsicle with a healthier twist. For those with diet restrictions, these paletas are gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan-friendly. This “recipe” isn’t really a recipe; I like to think of it more as a healthy tip I’m passing on to you. Don’t discard leftover pieces that don’t make the cut: Sprinkle Tajín and squeeze a little lime juice on it for a snack, or cut them into bite-sized pieces and freeze to use as watermelon ice cubes to flavor your water…. 

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AGUA FRESCA: Agua de mandarina

As the weather starts to get warmer, I’ve gotten an itch for making aguas frescas. This happens to me just about every year. Toward the end of the winter, I always seem to fall into a rut in the kitchen as I wait for spring to arrive. And like clockwork, as soon as we get our first day of warm weather, I head to the store looking for fresh fruits to make aguas frescas. This year was no exception, and the first fruit I spotted was a large bag of mandarinas, mandarin oranges.

I love mandarin oranges both because of the refreshing, sweet juice they produce and their portability as a vitamin-packed snack. In fact, I’ve been carrying two mandarin oranges my purse at all times for the last few weeks so that I always have a healthy snack at the ready.

But I’ve also got some cherished memories of the early days of hanging out with my cuñada, when she used to take me out for aguas frescas and where we almost always ended up with agua de mandarina, one of her favorites—and consequently, now, one of my favorites too.

This is an incredibly simple recipe, but one I’ve been asked for time and again by friends. It’s perfect for serving with any meal, and any gathering—large or small.

A few notes: my husband likes his agua de mandarina to be a little sweeter, but I prefer mine to be more natural and without sugar. My advice: try it without sugar first and perhaps leave out the lime juice. If you feel like it’s not sweet enough for your liking, you can mix about 2 tablespoons of sugar with 1/4 cup of warm water to get it to dissolve, and then mix it with the remaining 1-1/2 cups of cold water.

I also like to use a handheld citrus press for this recipe because I found that my electric juicer doesn’t always extract all the juice due to the small size of the mandarin oranges.

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Wordless Wednesday: ¡Ay, Mamey!

I was doing my weekly shopping trip when I spotted a sign for mamey from the next aisle over. I practically ran to grab one since they’re one of my all-time favorite fruits. But when I arrived, I realized… these mamey were gargantuan. They were the biggest ones I’ve ever seen… and I’ve seen a lot of mamey! Is it me, or are these freakishly large? The kiwi practically look like chiclets next to them.

If you’re not familiar with mamey, they’re a lot like a sweet avocado–a bit thicker, rougher skin, but a similar consistency on the inside. The sweet flesh is pink instead of green. Such a treat. Next time, I’ll be sure to take a photo of the inside to show you. I’m not sure how it’s possible that I haven’t written about mamey here before, but I can’t wait to go buy some more to make batidos de mamey.

  • What do you think? Are these mamey the biggest ones you’ve ever seen?

Wordless Wednesday: Fruta cristalizada

I’ve always been fascinated by frutas cristalizadas (candied fruits). I spotted these in the Mercado de Coyoacán a few weeks ago during my visit to Mexico City. Pictured clockwise from left: naranjas (oranges) that were hollowed out, tunas verdes y rojas (green and red prickly pears), chabacanos (apricots) and higos (figs). My favorite kind is calabaza cristalizada (candied pumpkin), and I brought back a big piece that I don’t plan to share.

  • What’s your favorite kind of fruta cristalizada?
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