mango mania

I'm fairly certain that the biggest health risk that I'm facing at the moment is related to the fact that it's mango season in Cayman.

I have mixed feelings this time of year. June 1st marks the beginning of hurricane season, and the calendar seems to be dictating our weather this month: It's been monsoon-like around here, with rain boots becoming a permanent part of my wardrobe. When it's not raining, it's sizzling outside, with no wind and something like 1000% humidity. Such conditions almost make island life seem distasteful in the summer months, but I quickly forget my physical discomfort every time I enjoy a locally-grown mango.

And I enjoy quite a lot of them, which is what I was trying to say about my health. These as-good-as-candy fruits are probably making me prediabetic. I can't stop myself. The problem is, I just don't want to.

Locally-grown mangoes come in a ton of varieties. The "common mango" and East Indian mango seem to be indigenous and plentiful, but I can't deal with all the fibrous strings when eating the flesh. My favorite, by far, are the Jakarta mangos, and I also stock up on Nam Doc, Carrie, Julie, Ice Cream (rare!), and Keitt. The characteristics I look for are a flat pit, no strings, and flesh like butter.

Detailed descriptions on many varieties can be found here - a website that has me convinced I need a mango tree (or three) at my condo.

Lately, I've been buying mangoes at the Farmers and Artisans Market on Wednesdays at Camana Bay. If I come across an unfamiliar mango variety, the seller will often offer to cut one open and give me a taste, which usually means I go back to the office with mango juice down to my elbows.

A mango intervention might be in order. But just look at the fruity goodness oozing from these photos of me cutting open a Jakarta the other day - "mouth-watering" is no exaggeration!

Lately, I've been adding mango to our salads, our guacamole, our smoothies, and even our baked goods. Did you know that you can pretty much do a 1-for-1 substitution of mango for banana in banana bread? Not that I'm unhappy with traditional banana bread, but substitution starts to open up the mango possibilities. What about mango pancakes, mango muffins, mango ice cream? There is so much natural sweetness in a mango that it negates the need for a ton of refined sugar. We're currently on our third Whole Life Challenge, and I successfully used local mango in this compliant banana bread recipe, which has no added sugar whatsoever!

However you choose to enjoy your mangoes, may these golden beauties remind you that living in the Caribbean during these hot and steamy summer months has its perks.

Meanwhile, I'll be the one scurrying around the farmers market looking a little sticky. But don't worry; it's just the mango juice running down this addict's face.

And don't you try to stop me.


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