Looking to change up your diet? It might be time to try out hybrid fruits and vegetables. Hybrid produce happens when farmers use controlled pollination to create new varieties of produce. These plants can be bred to resist disease and temperature extremes, as well as for improved taste and nutrition.
Hybrid fruits and vegetables offer one more way to add variety to your meal plan and give yourself an extra nutritional boost. Here are a few to try!
This comically-named cross between a grapefruit, an orange, and a tangerine takes its name from its ungainly appearance. Its shape bulges and its outer peel is thick and mottled, but don’t discount it. A single serving packs 70% of your recommended daily value of vitamin C into only 45 calories. The flavor is sweet, with none of grapefruit’s characteristic bitterness.
Ugli fruit also doesn’t contain grapefruit’s furanocoumarins, a compound that blocks the absorption of certain medications. If your doctor’s orders are to avoid grapefruit, look past appearances and give ugli fruit a try. It’s available April through November and makes an antioxidant-packed addition to salads, smoothies, and parfaits.
Broccolini is a cross between broccoli and kai-lan (Chinese broccoli). This vegetable sports longer stems and fewer florets than ordinary broccoli, and offers a sweeter taste that might appeal to picky eaters. It’s smaller and more tender, so it needs less cooking than broccoli does.
Whether steamed, sauteed, or oven roasted, broccolini offers plenty of fiber to aid in digestion, satiety, and maintaining blood sugar levels. It’s high in vitamin K for calcium absorption, vitamin C for antioxidant power, and the anti-inflammatory compound kaempferol. Broccolini is available in supermarkets year-round.
One of the more common hybrid fruits, pluots are a cross between a plum and an apricot. Though they have a sweet, refreshing flavor similar to plums, pluots tend to be easier to eat, without the fuzzy skin of an apricot or the fall-apart texture of plums. Available during the summer months, pluots are high in fiber, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Slice and eat them plain or add them to yogurt, salads, or smoothies.
The cucamelon, also known as a Mexican sour gherkin, mouse melon, or sandita, is a cucumber-like vegetable from Latin America that resembles a miniature watermelon on the outside. On the inside, these grape-sized hybrids have the pale flesh and clustered white seeds of a cucumber. Their taste is like a tart, citrus-soaked cucumber. Typically, cucamelons are pickled or added to salads and salsas.
Cucamelons have been a staple of Mexican and Latin American diets for centuries, but in recent years their popularity has surged in the United States. These little melons are high in vitamins A and K, good for the skin, hair, and absorption of calcium. Find them at a farmer’s market during summer or fall.