Whole Life Magazine

June / July 2017

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/832257

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healthy living CLEAN BAY CERTIFIED RESTAURANTS CLEAN BAY CERTIFIED RESTAURANTS AUGUST/SEPTEMBER • Brain Health & Peak Performance • End of Summer Road Trips • Kitty Cafes AD RESERVATION: 7/14 ADS DUE: 7/18 ON THE STREET: 8/2 310.425.3056 sales@wholelifemagazine.com W hile jackfruit isn't news to Thai and other South Asian communities, Los Angeles nutritionist Matt Ruscigno credits the East Hollywood vegan restaurant Pure Luck with bringing the huge, spiky fruit to a larger SoCal and national audience. Pure Luck is no longer with us, but the jack- fruit legacy lives on. Vegans and vegetarians—and even some carnivores—have embraced jackfruit as a stand-in for pulled pork, taco fi llings, and other traditionally meaty uses. And it's popping up in restaurants and health food stores everywhere. MEET THE JACKFRUIT This ginormous fruit can top 100 pounds. A member of the mulberry family, it's native to South and Southeast Asia. Picked when unripe, it's red, stringy, and works as a meaty curry in- gredient. As Ruscigno explains, "The Bengal word for the fruit translates to 'the meat which grows on a tree.'" Indians cook it in curries, Thais use it in a warm salad, Indonesians combine it with coconut for a traditional dish called gudeg, Ruscigno explains. Allowed to ripen, people eat the fruit raw or turn it into jam or desserts—everything from caramelized jackfruit and bamboo to jackfruit upside-down cake. IS IT GOOD FOR YOU? Jackfruit is versatile and delicious, but is it good for you? "It is not especially nutrient-dense," Ruscigno says. "It contains a fair amount of vitamin C, like other fruits, and is also a very good source of fi ber. It contains trace min- erals like magnesium, copper, and manga- nese, and is about fi ve percent protein—not a signifi cant amount." This is less protein than meat alternatives like tofu or tempeh. But the occasional jackfruit taco adds variety to the vegan or vegetarian diet. For carnivores who already get plenty of protein, a jackfruit dish can satisfy meat cravings without cholesterol or saturated fats. And for those on low-protein diets—such as people suffering from kidney disease or impaired liver function—jackfruit is a good dietary solution. WHERE CAN YOU GET IT? Long available as a canned product in Asian food stores, stores like Whole Foods now carry several competing brands. Dan Staakmann, vice president of Upton's Naturals, was inspired to add jackfruit to his line of vegan products after fi rst encoun- tering it in a Nepalese curry. "We tracked down a can at an Asian specialty grocery store, but didn't like the preservatives or the prep time of one to three hours to make a simple sandwich. We thought it would be great to have a pre-seasoned jackfruit op- tion with a clean label that just needed to be heated up for a few minutes." Finding a good source turned out to be surprisingly diffi - cult. "Most companies that were exporting cans didn't be- lieve us when we told them how much jackfruit we were inter- ested in buying," Staakmann said. "Ultimately, it took getting on a plane and traveling all over Asia to fi nd the right part- ners." Upton's now packs its jackfruit in Thailand. They pair the unripe fruit with sauces, such as chili lime or barbecue. Even more specialized, The Jackfruit Company is on a mis- sion to spread the jackfruit gospel. Company founder Annie Ryu traveled to India on a medical school mission in 2011. She discovered that 75 percent of India's jackfruit was going to waste because the country lacked suffi cient processing infra- structure. Now she works with more than 300 farms to supply the increasing global demand. Plenty of Los Angeles restaurants have hopped on the jackfruit bandwagon. Angelenos rave about the jackfruit ta- cos at Plant Food for People. My Vegan Gold, Organix, Ur- ban Skillet, and Sage Vegan Bistro are a few restaurants now featuring jackfruit. By Teresa Bergen Meat Which Grows on a Tree Photo: Courtesy of Dan Staakmann JACKFRUIT 12 wholelifetimes.com

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