Even if you can’t jet off to paradise this summer, you can still bring a touch of the exotic into your kitchen by way of the pitaya, or dragon fruit. This spiny-skinned orb is easy to cut and peel, and its white or pink flesh delivers a subtle flavor reminiscent of melons. Your taste buds are about to be tickled pink!
A member of the cactus family, dragon fruit is packed with nutritional goodies like calcium, which helps strengthen bones, and fiber, which keeps hunger at bay. Beyond that, the tiny edible seeds inside are loaded with omega-6 and omega-3, two essential fatty acids that your body can’t produce on its own. One cup of dragon fruit also delivers a whopping 192 percent of your daily vitamin C, which helps support your immune system.
Hit up a specialty grocery store or farmers’ market to get your hands on this pink fruit. Or, look for pitaya smoothie packs in the freezer aisle, for a pre-blended option that’s even easier to use. From puddings and salsas to parfaits and pancakes, these nine healthy recipes will make dragon fruit your new go-to produce pick.
9 Healthy Dragon Fruit Recipes
1. Pitaya Parfait
Finally, evidence that coughing up the dough for that food processor was worth it. For a guilt-free parfait, whip up a crumbled crust of dried mulberries, dates, and cinnamon. Next, layer the crust and pitaya mix in your favorite glass and top with an assortment of fruit. Mix and match berries to create your own edible food art. This recipe yields two to four parfaits, so invite your squad over for a drool-worthy bite. Photo and recipe: Jenna Davila / Live Pure
2. Pink Dragon Fruit Soda
Craving some carbonation? With this foolproof recipe you can get your fix, with none of the artificial ingredients usually found in soda. This simple drink marries dragon fruit with lime juice, soda water and a hint of sweetness. If you’re keeping an eye on your sugar intake, use stevia instead of simple syrup. Photo and recipe: Brandon Matzek / Kitchen Konfidence
3. Coconut, Pineapple, and Pitaya Pancakes
Start sending out brunch invites — you’re going to want an excuse to show off these picture-perfect short stacks. Thanks to oat and coconut flour, this recipe is better for you than flapjacks made from the white or refined stuff. Best of all, the pink sauce doesn’t take a crazy amount of effort. Blend pitaya smoothie packs with pineapple juice and stevia drops and you’re good to go. Photo and recipe: Corina Nielsen / Live Fit
4. Dragon Fruit Smoothie
Mild enough to play well with other fruits but with a unique flavor all its own, dragon fruit is about to be the new star of your smoothie game. For this easy recipe, take your taste buds to the tropics by adding bananas, coconut water and pineapple to your pink fruit. The bright, punchy color is a feast for your eyes, too. Photo and recipe: Jennifer Chong / JChong Studio
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5. Dragon Fruit Pudding
Store-bought pudding cups have nothing on these elegant snacks. Revamp the classic after-school treat with this version full of sophisticated flavors and zero preservatives. Combine dragon fruit with rambutan, another exotic find, for a simple blend requiring just a few ingredients. Pro tip: Plan ahead. You’ll have to let this one chill for at least four hours. Photo and recipe: Nik Sharma / A Brown Table
6. Dragon Fruit Salsa
Planning a Mexican feast? Think outside the box by using pitaya to pump up your salsa. This savory mix of dragon fruit, onions, cilantro and lime juice will help enhance any meal. Enjoy it with chips, drizzle it on top of tacos, or pair it with your latest grilled masterpiece. Photo and recipe: Valerie Mitchell / Mama Likes to Cook
7. Dragon Fruit Berry Bliss Chia Pudding
Prepare this dessert-like breakfast the night before and you’ll wake up to a morning meal that’s more filling than your average bowl of cereal. As your chia seeds absorb almond milk, they create a satiating gel that serves up omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, calcium and fiber. Mix up the pudding in individual containers, then top it off with berries and nuts for an energizing breakfast that you can toss in your bag as you’re heading out the door. Photo and recipe: Breakfast Criminals / Breakfast Criminals
8. Dragon Fruit, Pomegranate & Macadamia Salad with Creamy Mint & Lime Dressing
You don’t need to drop cash on a specialty salad just to get out of your lunch rut. This inventive recipe introduces dragon fruit to your typical mix of greens in a nutrient-packed bowl that’s bursting with color. Pomegranate seeds add antioxidants while avocado and macadamia nuts offer heart-healthy fats. Bonus: The savory dressing gets its creaminess from avocado instead of dairy, so it’s ideal for those with lactose intolerance. Photo and recipe: Julie Cove / Alkaline Sisters
9. Pitaya Breakfast Bowl
The best thing about this hot pink mix isn’t its color, but its versatility. Eat it for breakfast to start your day off on the right foot, or add protein powder to turn it into the ideal post-workout snack. Using a frozen pitaya smoothie pack as a base, sprinkle on the recipe’s recommended bee pollen, berries, and cacao nibs to turn your bowl into a nutritional powerhouse. Photo and recipe: Masha Davydova/ Golubka Kitchen