Welcome to our Healthy Habit Challenge! Instead of focusing on (impossible-to-keep) New Year's resolutions, we challenged four writers to start a new healthy habit. These challenges aren't about cutting out sugar or going on a diet, or focused on the negative. They're about doing something new and good — and making it second-nature. Here's how they went.
Original challenge: My Healthy Habit Challenge: I'm Gonna Buy More than Four Types of Produce
Last time we talked, I vowed to break out of my pitiful shopping routine procuring the same four items — apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, and string beans — and buy produce I normally would avoid. My goal was to add at least three new foods every time I went grocery shopping.
Did I manage to shake up my shopping list? Did I sink my teeth into something more exotic than a Honeycrisp apple? Or did I collapse in a heap by the banana display, overwhelmed by my produce choices? Let's find out!
My healthy habit challenge was, in some ways, a huge success. The challenge was to try new things, and I did! I tried so many new things, in fact, and with such different responses, that it seemed right to split my learnings in two: fruits and vegetables.
First up, fruits!
I Tried 6 Fancy Fruits and Here's What I Thought
My local Wegmans has a fabulous international fruit section. I'd normally be too intimidated to buy anything, but because I was embracing this challenge, I dove in. I snapped up a horned melon, a prickly pear, a papaya, and a starfruit, among a few other fun fruits.
The first thing I noticed: Fancy fruits are pricey! The papaya and the starfruit cost $3.49 each and the horned melon was a whopping $5.99. For one! Price is one of my biggest obstacles to trying new fruits, but for the sake of the experiment, I set my concerns aside and tossed the fruits in my shopping cart, hoping for the best.
First up was the horned melon. I cut it in half, squeezed the sides and slurped the seeds out. It tasted like a cross between a cucumber, banana, and kiwi. Was it worth nearly $6? Probably not, but it was fun to try something new. I mean, how often do you get to slurp your fruit? It was a novel experience.
Next I tried the prickly pear, which was priced at a more reasonable 66 cents a piece, thankfully. I've had prickly pear margaritas in the past, so I figured this fruit would be a cinch. I was very wrong. In fact, eating this fleshy fruit was a disaster. Not only did the tiny needles on the outside of the pear irritate my fingers, but the fruit was also nearly inedible because it's packed with hard seeds. I ended up spitting it out and feeling like a failure.
The papaya I chose was lackluster, mushy, and unappealing. I tried to finish this massive fruit because it was one of the pricier pieces of produce, but I didn't enjoy it. Although I was disappointed, I reminded myself that this was the whole point of the challenge: to expand my culinary horizons. I soldiered on with my last pick.
The starfruit's yellow flesh was crisp and tart. It didn't blow my mind or anything, but it was refreshing. I could see the star shapes being a fun addition to cocktails or a quick way to jazz up a fruit salad. And I was able to finish it, which was saying a lot compared to a few of the other fruits I picked. It was a good note to end on.
Later in the week, I picked up a pomelo at Trader Joe's. It's a large, green fruit as big (or bigger) than a grapefruit. Confession: I really didn't want to eat this pomelo. It sat on my countertop for a few days and I couldn't bring myself to give it a taste. Finally, after my boyfriend threatened to throw it out, I finally cut into it. To my surprise, the rind was light and foamy, and the fruit was extraordinarily fragrant. I was expecting a tart, bitter grapefruit taste, but the pomelo was mild and sweeter. I really liked it!
I had the opposite experience with these baby bananas. I was very excited about trying them! Look how cute they are! I imagined they'd be sweeter than regular ol' bananas and perfect for adding to smoothies or a quick snack. Wrong! Unfortunately, the baby bananas tasted bland and dry. One bite was all I could stomach.
What I Learned from Trying Fancy Fruits
My journey into exotic fruits was a mixed bag. I'm glad I got the chance to sample new things, but between the high price tags and the uneven results, I'm not sure I'd incorporate any of these fruits into my normal routine.
Ready to find out my experience with veggies?