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Mangoes are a very delicious, exotic fruit grown on a tree. They can be found in many grocery stores today. In year's past, mangoes were hard to find. Today different varieties ranging in different colors, sweetness, flavor and texture are available year round. I recently bought an Ataulfo mango at the local Giant and it was very sweet and tropical. Other varieties found in our local grocery stores are Florida's "Tommy Atkins," "Kent," "Keitt" and "Haden." The fruit's skin is yellow or green with a golden to red blush, depending on the variety. Fruit can be round, oval or kidney shaped. Choose mangoes that are firm and free of blemishes. Avoid soft or shriveled fruit.

A mango must be ripe to eat. It will have a fruity aroma and will be slightly soft to the touch. It will yield gentle pressure, and it may take three to eight days to ripen. I ripen the mango at room temperature, but be careful not to over ripen. The ripe mango can be refrigerated for about four to six days if it will not be used right away.

According to University of Arizona Farmers' MarketFact sheet, (http://healthymeals.nal.usda.gov/mangos) mangoes are grown in tropical climates and are exported by India, Pakistan, the Caribbean, Haiti, Mexico and much of South America, including Brazil. In the United States, Florida is the major producer of mangoes from May to October.

Mangoes are a good source of vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and fiber. Mangoes may also contain a natural digestive enzyme which helps to soothe the stomach. There is about 140 calories in one mango or about 100 calories in one cup.

Mangoes are delicious and satisfying to eat. They are also versatile and can be used in many recipes such as main dishes, salads, side dishes, shakes and desserts.

I included a recipe for a chicken main dish which is healthy and easy to make. I found the recipe for Flavorful Mango Chicken on an E book I downloaded from Amazon.com. It is nutritious and includes vegetables, fruits and protein. Served with brown rice or quinoa will be beneficial as complex carbohydrates. I often make rice using refrigerated coconut milk for added flavor. This adds the dairy component to complete the Healthy Plate.

My second recipe is a salad I found in the May 2015 edition of The Costco Connection. It chocked full of healthy vegetables and fruits. Add some grilled chicken breast, feta cheese, or your favorite protein source to this salad and enjoy it as a meal. I have included my favorite dressing recipe or use a dressing of your choice.

HOW TO CUT A MANGO

1) With a sharp knife cut from the top of the mango, down one side of the flat, oblong pit. Then repeat with the other side. You should end up with three pieces - two halves, and a middle section that includes the pit. 2) Take a mango half and use a knife to make lengthwise and crosswise cuts in it, but try not to cut through the peel. 3) At this point you may be able to peel the segments right off of the peel with your fingers. Or, you can use a small paring knife to cut away the pieces from the peel. 4) Take the mango piece with the pit; lay it flat on the cutting board. Use a paring knife to cut out the pit and remove the peel. (http://www.health.arizona.edu/health_topics/nutrition/farmers_market/Mango%20handout.pdf)

Recipes
Flavorful Mango Chicken

Makes 4 servings

1 pound cubed chicken

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 ¼ cup water

2 chopped green peppers

2 sliced onions

1 mango peeled and diced

1 tablespoon chili powder

½ teaspoon minced garlic

2 tablespoons cilantro powder

2 sliced tomatoes

1 tablespoon salt

1 handful cilantro

Directions:

Place chicken in a bowl. Add ginger, chili powder, salt and cilantro powder. Add half of the chopped mango and green peppers to bowl.

In a large saucepan, heat the oil and sauté the onion for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken mixture to saucepan and continue cooking. Stir frequently. Pour water into pan and lower heat to medium low. Continue stirring. Cook mixture for about 15 minutes or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and water is absorbed. Add tomatoes, the rest of the mango, and the fresh cilantro to cooked mixture.

Serve over cooked brown rice or cooked quinoa.

Mango Salad

1 mango peeled and sliced

1 head leaf lettuce, rinsed, dried, and chopped into bite size pieces. Or 4 cups spring mix.

½ pound sliced strawberries

½ pound fresh blueberries

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup fresh grapes

1 medium avocado cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds

1/2 cup chopped red onions

Your favorite dressing or mine, recipe follows

Mix all ingredients into a large salad bowl.

Makes 6 to 8 servings

My Favorite Dressing

1 cup olive oil

1/3 cup vinegar

1/3 to 1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon dry mustard

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Blend together all ingredients

Mango salsa

Toss together:

1 cup diced mango

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 tablespoons minced onion

1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper

Season with salt and pepper.

Mango Smoothie

Toss into blender and blend:

3-4 fresh or frozen mango slices

1/2 banana

1/4 cup blueberries or strawberries

1/2 cup Kale if desired

Add 1/2 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt and 1 cup milk.

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