I want to start off by thanking you so much for your kind words of support on Friday’s post. Your reminders that I was working for a school system helped remind me that this was political and bureaucratic, not personal. They may have tried, but couldn’t take away the fact that I am a coach and will always be one.
Today I want to tell you about an all natural, whole-food meat substitute that has no fat, very few calories, and can be used to replace chicken or pork in a variety of recipes. It’s called jackfruit, and while I’m really not sure if it is considered a fruit or a vegetable, I do know that it is completely plant based, contains so gluten, soy, chemicals, preservatives, artificial colors, or sugars. That’s because it grows on trees!
I’m linking up with Tina and Deborah for Meatless Monday! I’m also linking with Annmarie for her Meatless Monday party! Be sure to check out all of their yummy recipes! I have a few jackfruit recipes to share with you too.
I’ve written about the amazing jackfruit before, but in case you’re new, here’s the scoop on this amazing “vegetable meat.”
The jackfruit grows in tropical locales on tall, evergreen trees. Pricky and green in its unripened state, which is when it is perfect to use as a meat substitute (it is yellow and sweet when ripe). It is cultivated in India, Ceylon, southern China, Thailand, and other countries with hot, humid climates.
But, how does it taste? The unripened jackfruit has a taste and consistency similar to chicken when it is cooked. It can be shredded or cut into chunks, and can be slow cooked for extra flavor. Because of its cultivation in Asian countries, it is frequently used in curries.
The jackfruit is nutrient rich, especially in vitamins C and B complex. It has small amounts of vitamin A, plus potassium, magnesium, manganese, and iron. It is also high in dietary fiber.
So you don’t have a jackfruit tree in your backyard? No worries. In this country, jackfruit is most frequently available in cans and is sold at Asian and Caribbean markets. There are a few online sources, including Amazon.com (note: that’s an affiliate link, but it is much cheaper if you can find it in a local market. Like about $20 cheaper!) Make sure to look for green unripe (or young) jackfruit in brine or water.
In fact, the only nutritional downside to jackfruit is, that since it is so low in calories, it is also pretty low in protein. So to offset that deficit, be sure to prepare or serve your jackfruit with foods that are higher in protein. Beans work great, either to thicken a sauce or to serve as a side dish with many jackfruit recipes.
So, have I piqued your interest in jackfruit? Here is my favorite recipe (originally posted in September 2013), plus a few links to others.
Curried Jackfruit with Avocado
This curried jackfruit is served hot, over rice and avocado, but it would taste great chilled too.
- 1 can jackfruit, green, in water or brine, rinsed and drained
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon asafetida (if you don't have this, don't worry. Add a teaspoon more curry powder)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon flour (for gluten free simply use a thickener of your choice)
- 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
- 8 ounces coconut milk (from a can)
- 8 ounces vegetable broth
- 1-2 avocados, scooped out with a spoon
- In a small bowl, use a fork to shred the jackfruit,
- Heat the coconut oil over medium heat. Cook the onions and garlic until soft (about 5 minutes).
- Add the jackfruit and cook, stirring occasionally, until the jackfruit's moisture has evaporated. If necessary, use the fork to break up the jackruit a little more.
- Add the curry powder, asafetida, and salt and stir to combine.
- Sprinkle the flour over the jackfruit mixture, add the beans, and stir to combine.
- Slowly pour in the coconut milk, mixing it in as you go.
- Increase the heat and stir in the broth. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens. You can add more seasonings to taste if you'd like.
- Heat the avocado halves (30 seconds in the microwave or 5 minutes in a 350 oven).
- Serve on rice, spooning a scoop of the curried jackfruit on each avocado half (you can quarter the avocado for a lighter meal if you'd like).
I called that my favorite, but in fact, I love all of the dishes I’ve created with jackfruit. Here are a few more. Remember, they are all vegan and gluten free (except the tortilla on the burrito, easily fixable if you need or prefer gluten free).