Enjoy the real prehistoric paleo fruit like durian, jackfruit and mangosteen, so you understand why eating a juicy apple a day isn’t near to what our ancestors ate.
Who doesn’t know the expression: "an apple a day keeps the doctor away"? And when you know about paleo, you surely also know the primal website of Mark Sisson called http://www.marksdailyapple.com/. What you most likely don’t know is that in Mark’s first paleo recipes cookbook, not 1 recipe has an apple in it. Sounds weird? Well, yes and no.
Mark is like any other paleo enthousiast, an advocate for living and eating like our ancestors did. However here is the challenge: none of the fruits and vegetables sold in your local supermarket, were around when our ancestors where around. Mark works around this by selling food supplements in order to get the same nutrition as our ancestors.
Another, in my opinion more logical way is doing what our ancestors did: go and look for the food you need. And indeed, when you look around in the Malaysian rainforests, you will find trees that our ancestors also found: durian and jackfruit.
A word of caution: the jackfruit or durian sold in an Asian market mostly will be from a plantation. Only once in a while you will find the orang asli (local Malaysian hunters and gatherers) sell fruits they picked from the forest: the real Malaysian paleo fruits!
Paleo fruits contain more fibers
Bite in an apple, and the juices will run over your chin. Bite in a durian, and you will be chewing over something like a cross between a delicious custard and almonds… Basically you will be chewing delicious fibers. Same with jackfruit: a source of delicious dietary fibers without the strange smell that the durian emits.
Back to the durian: when durian season is in full swing and durians are abound, my Malaysian family will once in a while eat fresh durians as a meal. That’s how filling they are. And to stress that food variety is the key to a healthy diet en lifestyle, they immediately eat some mangosteens as well.
Durians and mangosteens are like yin and yang: you need to take them together to keep your body in balance. A preventive concept that’s quite alien to western medicine where you first need to get sick in order to get a medicine that reduces the symptoms until your body gets healthier again.
This durian – mangosteen combination most likely illustrates what our ancestors had to come up with to survive. Supermarket fruits are there to feed you, but nature isn’t there to feed humans. Some fruits are meant to be eaten by humans so their seeds will be transported by the consumer. Some fruits are a bit less easy to digest, hence the prehistorical knowledge to eat them together with mangosteen – both fruits are available in the same season.
To be clear: this fruit – as big as my head – with a thorny husk does require an ax or cleaver to open. That’s because its main consumers in the wild are elephants, not humans. Elephants roam around for miles a day, and as such spread the seeds to new locations.
- look for real food in stead of food supplements,
- look for fibrous
fruit and vegetables and most importantly:
- variety is king because the micronutrients we need are not ready available in just 1 "superfood" or "foodsupplement".
What is a mangosteen? It’s a two- to three-inch tropical fruit with white juicy flesh. The taste is sweet sour, somewhere in between peaches and pineapples. A must buy when they are in season because:
- the price will be very low
- the taste is quite delicious and
- they last quite some time: due to their strong husky rind, they won’t spoil easily when transporting, and don’t need a fridge: I simply hang a bunch of mangosteens in my
In Malaysia, durians are called "the king of fruits", and mangosteen is nicknamed "the queen of fruits". As mentioned above: after eating durians, finish with mangosteen in order to keep your body heat in balance (according to Asian culture).
Be aware though when opening mangosteens: the rind can leave reddish-purple stains that aren’t easily removed.. , and the reddish-purple rind is the cause of un-washable stains.
Another strong smelling yet most delicious fruit from Malaysia is the jackfruit: the biggest fruit that you can find growing on trees.
This fruit really is humongous: it can easily be twice as big as a human head. If you travel on the smaller roads in Malaysia, you might just see the jackfruit trees fruiting next to the roads.
Inside the blunt-thorny cover you will find the delicious fleshy yellow-orange bulbs. Not as mushy as the durian, but with a more pleasant smell and also more juicy.
The white latex-like sap coming out of the green rind of the jackfruit can leave stains on your clothes, therefore it is recommended to buy the fruit readily cut.
In Malaysia, the fruit is generally served as a dessert. When you don’t live in Malaysia, India, Thailand, Indonesia nor Brazil, in stead of the fresh fruit, you could be able to buy canned jackfruit or just the juice (the latter isn’t sold here in Malaysia, as far as my shopping experience goes.
Jackfruit benefits are comparable with durians and bananas: they contain lots of dietary fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals and will give you a quick energy boost.
Paleo fruit recipes
Paleo recipes… like apples: that again seems a 21st century invention. When it comes to eating durians, jackfruit and mangosteen, you just open the fruit and start eating the flesh. Having said so, when you go on a culinary discovery trip, you will find out that the seeds from durian can be cooked. Even more so: when green, both the flesh and edible seeds of the jackfruit are used in Malay curry recipes.
Personally I love jackfruit and durian as a cold dessert. Hence not much imagination was needed to mix some durian with almond milk and icecubes, a few drops of calamasi juice, and a delicious durian smoothie was created. Quite filling for a quick and easy paleo breakfast smoothie. Just the smell, which could explain why Starbucks coffees are more popular table companions during early morning meetings…
Since you will have to buy cultivars, do know that the Thai cultivars have less smell, so they could be a better introduction to this ancient fruit.
Once you have fallen in love with the taste, do try out the different cultivars, like the Durian: "Red Prawn" (Udang Merah) in the picture on the right. This durian costed (2005) about 13 Ringgit or about $4, 10 years later, prices have doubled for sure.
The good thing however when durian season is in full swing: vendors will let you taste before you buy and they are all eager to see the reaction of any westerner biting in the fruit for the first time. Most remarkable was TV host of Bizarre Foods Andrew Zimmern’s reaction when eating durians…: for a person who eats all sorts of ammonia laden foods, it was quite a surprise he couldn’t stomach a sweet durian.
Conclusion: although paleo recommends we should eat like our ancestors, we need to remember that the fruits and vegetables found in our supermarkets are different that what our ancestors would have foraged. Looking at prehistorical fruittrees that still exist today – like durians – the main difference will be the lack of fiber in moderndays produce.
When trying to find "paleo fruits", try to find heirloom and old cultivars: at least they will contain more fibers and more micronutritients than their most recent cultivars.