Do you want to get away to feel the island breeze? Well, good news! TasteWise Kids is helping to bring the island vibes to your home with this week’s tip. You’ll explore trying new tropical foods and figuring out if you like them or not.

We may be more familiar with common tropical fruits like pineapples and mangoes, but some interesting and refreshing summer fruits to cool you down are guava, passionfruit, papaya, dragon fruit, lychee, and star fruit. If you’re brave, try bitter melon (very bitter!). These fresh fruits make a limited appearance in big supermarket stores but you can often find their juices and nectars in the aisles. Try them on their own to get a sense of their flavor (use the TWK Tasting Sheet to help kids understand how our different senses play into what we eat) and see below for a fun spin.

Island Adventures – Beat the heat!

Three Ways to Get Fruity!

  • Cold smoothies and homemade popsicles are the best of summer. Getting kids involved in the preparation can also make for an easy activity. Mix and match fruits for tasty flavor combinations or try these Guava Passionfruit Pops.
  • Make an agua fresca! Translating to fresh/cool water, these refreshing beverages are kid-friendly and can be a nice alternative to iced tea. Use honeydew, watermelon, or substitute any fruit you like with this Agua Fresca recipe. Or try Agua de Jamaica, a similar drink made with hibiscus flowers.
  • Try plaintains. A member of the banana family, this fruit is versatile. When green and unripened, it can be fried and salted to make tostones. Ripened and yellow/black, it is fried for a caramelized, sweeter treat: Fried Sweet Plantains. You may have already tried a version – Trader Joe’s plantains chips make a great snack.

Don’t Forget the Veggies!

  • Tuber love: Yams, not to be confused with the sweet potato (North American yam), are a root vegetable and can be a good addition to soups and stews, similar to a potato. Trader Joe’s released an ube (purple yam) ice cream for the summer, a must try! Taro is another fun root vegetable that is also often used in desserts. Try it to go in a smoothie or tea from your local bubble tea place as a summer treat. Or make this easy Carrot Punch with ingredients you may already have at home.
  • Just Add Spice. A lot of the bold flavors from the islands come from the spices, seasoning mixes, and Caribbean peppers that are used. Try a jerk seasoning or other spice mix on your meats and veggies when you do your summer grilling.

Food for Thought

School is out, but learning doesn’t stop. Take this opportunity to have a conversation with kids about where these new, interesting foods come from and why certain foods grow in different regions (i.e. climates).

Some of us may immediately enjoy a new food the first time we try it, but it can take about 13-15 times to try a new food before your taste buds decide you like it or not.

We hope you can use these tips to try some of these tasty foods that may be new to you. Consider safely checking out local Caribbean, Latin American, and Asian markets to find an even greater variety of tropical foods than mentioned here.