Although beating the heat during an unrelenting heat wave can seem almost as impossible as resisting binge eating through eight seasons of love island uk in a single sitting, a cold drink could at least marginally lift your spirits. Growing up in Florida, one drink in particular always got me through hot summer days without throwing a heat-induced tantrum, and no, I’m not talking about a bright yellow batch of Country Time lemonade.
My favorite soft drink had a similar sweet and sour flavor profile and was just as refreshing; However, the star of the show was the tamarind, a tropical fruit that tastes like sunshine and paradise, which is also packed with tons of nutritional benefits related to increased longevity. To learn more about this fruit, including how to use it and how tamarind benefits your health, read on.
What is tamarind?
Tamarind is a tree native to Africa (but also grows in other parts of the world) that produces bean-like pods filled with seeds surrounded by a juicy pulp. When the fruit is still young, the flesh tastes more tart, and as it ripens, it becomes doughier and sweeter, maintaining its lip-puckering tartness. This edible pulp can be eaten raw or used to cook various dishes such as chutneys, drinks, and desserts. It can also be found in raw, powdered, and syrup forms, to name a few, and fun fact: It’s one of the key ingredients in Worcestershire sauce.
The Key Ways Tamarind Benefits Your Health
According to Roxana Ehsani, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, registered dietitian nutritionist and national media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, this impactful fruit is loaded with antioxidants and nutrients. “Tamarind benefits your health in many ways. For starters, one cup of tamarind pulp contains three grams of protein, 75 grams of carbohydrates, and six grams of dietary fiber,” says Ehsani. Additionally, she says that tamarind contains a variety of vitamins and minerals, including 26 percent of the daily value for magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, copper, phosphorous, and thiamin.
Perhaps one of the most attractive benefits of tamarind is that it is also rich in polyphenols, which are linked to increased longevity. According to Ehsani, both the pulp and the seeds have this powerful antioxidant that can help reduce free radical damage in the body, which can cause chronic disease. (By the way, when consuming tamarind, she recommends eating it in moderation, as it can act as a laxative when eaten in large amounts due to its high magnesium and potassium content, although she warns that this may help those suffering from constipation.)
4 ways to use tamarind
1. To season sauces, marinades and dressings
Pad Thai Sauce
Tamarind sauce, pulp, or paste is often used to flavor sauces, marinades, and dressings. For example, one of the main ingredients in pad thai sauce is tamarind, which gives this sweet, sour, salty and salty dish its iconic flavor. This easy tofu pad thai recipe from Minimalist Baker features a vegan-friendly sauce made with tamarind paste (or concentrate), coconut aminos, coconut sugar, chili garlic sauce, lime juice, and vegan fish sauce for a heavenly combination. Not to mention, tamarind is also one of the star ingredients in Worcestershire sauce, a multipurpose flavoring condiment perfect for marinades and salad dressings.
Get the recipe: Easy Tofu Pad Thai
2. To sweeten drinks
Fresh Water Tamarind
Tamarind water, like this recipe from Isabel Eats, is a common way to use this fruit and one that I grew up enjoying on hot summer days. To make this refreshing drink, the pods are soaked in hot water to release the pulp and infuse the water with their sweet and salty flavor. The mixture is then strained and sweetened with sugar for a tart drink packed with health benefits.
Get the recipe: Tamarind Water
3. To make sweets
Tamarind candy balls
Very popular in Mexico, tamarind is used to make popular candies like Pelon Pelonazo and is often combined with spices like chili and citrus lime for a super tart and sweet flavor combination. This homemade tamarind candy recipe from Aubrey’s Kitchen also contains Tajín, a chili-lime seasoning that adds a hint of citrus, spice and flavor.
Get the recipe: Tamarind Sweets
4. As a dessert flavoring
This tart fruit, often in paste or concentrate form, is also used to add flavor and sweetness to desserts such as palettes (Mexican popsicles), pies, tarts, or cake icing. These Muy Delish Three Ingredient Tamarind Popsicles are the perfect summer hydrating treat to enjoy by the pool and only take ten minutes to make.
Get the recipe: Tamarind Popsicles
Avoid the summer heat wave with this hydrating and anti-inflammatory golden smoothie recipe:
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