Saturday, September 19, 2009

Off The Beaten Path - Longans

I was at my favourite Thai-Vietnamese restaurant the other night, 7 Stars in Orangeville, and was chatting with the owners after my usual meal of Vegetable Curry Pad Thai. I noticed behind the counter there was a bowl of little light brown berries that I'd seen at the Chinese markets in downtown Toronto.
Of course, as soon as I asked what they were, I was soon walking out with a bag full of them. Afterall, these are the same wonderful people that shopped around for Dragon Fruit and called me at home to come pick that wonderful fruit up - on the house, of course.

These little guys are call Longans. They are similar to the more popular Lychee in that their flesh is translucent and is quite sweet. They are simple to eat raw by biting down on the outer shell to 'crack' it and pulling out the flesh, making sure to discard the pit. In fact, I think a Longan pit spitting contest would blow away a cherry pit spitting contest because the pit is very smooth and a little bigger than a cherry pit - making for less friction and more momentum. In fact, stay tuned to BeingAVeganAthlete - that contest might just be in the works!

In China they are commonly referred to as Dragon Eyes. This will become evident by looking at the fruit without its outer shell. Because of the translucent flesh, the black seed within makes it look like an eyeball.

The fruit is packed with vitamin C and has fairly significant amounts of riboflavin, potassium and copper. But, what the Longan is great for is, like the cherry, is being a great snack that you can munch on all day without worrying about calories or fat.

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