New and Unusual Food World

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Ever heard of an Ugli fruit or a tried a purple carrot? What about kohlrabi or jicama?

In the last six months, I have taught a couple programs titled "New and Unusual Foods." The design of the classes were different, but the central idea was this: let's try a new food.

  • Not that Unusual. Ugli fruit is a citrus fruit, like an orange. Purple carrots taste like orange carrots, but have a different pigment. Many foods are variations of other foods we are already familiar with.
  • Nutrition. Unusual fruits and vegetables contain familiar nutrition, such as vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. The deep pigments, like purple and red, in some of these foods add antioxidant compounds, which help limit cell damage in the body and may reduce risks of health conditions.
  • Adventure. If you are feeling adventurous, new and unusual foods (at least new and unusual to the typical American diet) are worth eating.

If you are not sure where to start, see what your local stores have already that you have not tried. The unexpected – and new and unusual – are likely in places you have not looked yet.

Of course, buying foods you have not tried before is a gamble. What if I do not like it? Will it be a waste of money?

This is where information from your local Extension office can come in handy. Read our blogs, call our offices, and look for recipes with these new and unusual ingredients. Gain more knowledge and skills as you explore, shop, and eat in a new and unusual food world.

Jicama Summer Salad (serves 6 1-cup servings)

1 Tbsp lime Juice
2 1/2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Half of a jicama, peeled and diced
3 cups strawberries, sliced
6 oz. blueberries
15 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained

1. Mix together lime juice, honey, and cinnamon in a small bowl until well mixed.
2. In a large bowl, combine jicama, strawberries, blueberries, and mandarin oranges and drizzle with lime, honey, cinnamon combination.
3. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator 3-4 days.


Nutritional analysis: 120 calories, 5g fat, 10mg sodium, 31g carbohydrate, 4g fiber, 1g protein
Recipe from: Lisa Peterson, University of Illinois Extension, Nutrition and Wellness

Today's post was written by Caitlin Huth. Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and Nutrition & Wellness Educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt Counties. She teaches nutrition- and food-based lessons around heart health, food safety, diabetes, and others. In all classes, she encourages trying new foods, gaining confidence in healthy eating, and getting back into our kitchens.