I remember the first time I ever ate a mango. A co-worker had brought some back from the Philippines. He had smooth ones and fuzzy ones. When I bit into the fruit, the juice just ran down my face making it a fun as well as yummy experience. Mangoes, which are related to pistachios and cashews, are one of the most popular fruits in the world. They were first grown in India and it is believed that Buddha meditated under a mango tree. Mangoes are also healthy. They are packed with vitamin C, vitamin A and fiber. Research shows they can help with diabetes and high cholesterol as well as cancer prevention and boosting the immune system. Mangoes are also versatile and can be used in a variety of ways.

Try these simple, yet fun and delicious ways to eat and enjoy mangoes.

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1. Selection and Storage

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We think of mangoes as a summer fruit and they do peak from May to September but they are available year-round. Most of the mangoes in the U.S. are imported from Guatemala, Haiti, Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru. There are several varieties of mangoes and they each look a bit different. Ripeness is determined by touch, not color. When a mango is ripe, it will give slightly when squeezed, similar to an avocado. There should also be a fresh, fruity fragrance and there should be no blemishes. Mangoes can be stored at room temperature. Place them in a paper bag to speed up ripening or in the fridge to slow it down. Once you cut a mango, you need to eat it within a day or two.

2. How to Cut a Mango

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Mangoes have a large, flat seed in the middle. It is so large, it’s nearly the same size as the fruit which makes cutting mangos a challenge. The flesh of the mango is in the “cheek” on either side of this seed. To cut a mango, hold the fruit upright and place a knife to the side of the stem. Slice off one cheek and then the one on the other side. Use a paring knife to score the cheeks by making shallow cuts in one direction and then perpendicular to the first cuts to form cubes. Press the back side of the mango to push out the fruity cubes. Use your knife to remove the cubes from the skin. Trim any remaining fruit away from the seed.

3. Make Salsa

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Adding mango to salsa creates a perfect balance between sweet and spicy. In my Avocado Mango Salsa, sweet mango, creamy avocado, crunchy cucumber and spicy jalapeno combine to make the most amazing dish that is bright and colorful and packed with flavor. Combine 1 peeled and diced mango, 2 diced plum tomatoes, 1 pitted and cubed avocado, 1 seeded and diced cucumber, ½ minced red onion, 2 Tbs. fresh chopped cilantro and 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper in a large bowl. Season with ½ tsp. kosher salt, ½ tsp. ground cumin, ¼ tsp. black pepper and the juice of 1 lime. Let stand a few minutes for the flavors to blend. The salsa makes a great side dish for lots of meals or would be refreshing all on its own. For another recipe, try this Sweet and Spicy Salsa that is colorful and delicious.

4. Batter Up

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The next time you make waffles or pancakes for breakfast (or dinner), try adding some mango into the batter. The fruit will add moistness and sweet flavor. Try these Healthy Summery Juicy Mango Waffles that are vegan and gluten-free and these Sugar and Oil Free Mango Lime Pancakes with Ginger and Coconut. Yum! That will really get everyone jumping out of bed!

5. Add Mango to Breads

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Mango may not be what comes to mind when you think about baking bread but maybe it should be. Adding mango to bread recipes adds moistness and a light, sweet flavor that is perfect for breakfast or dessert. Plus, just ¼ cup of mango purée can substitute for one egg in recipes. Try this Strawberry-Mango Loaf and this Spelt, Mango and Coconut Banana Bread which are both quick breads.

6. Wraps and Sandwiches

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Besides putting mango into the bread batter, mango is a great addition to any sandwich or wrap. One of my favorite sandwiches is my Mustard Greens, Avocado, Mango and Sprouts Sandwich with Spicy Mayo. It’s healthy and amazing. To make it: lightly toast 8 slices of gluten-free bread. In a small bowl, mix 4 Tbs. vegan mayo and a few dashes of hot sauce to taste. Spread the spicy mayo over all the slices of bread. Top half the slices with mustard greens, followed by avocado slices, mango slices, and tomato slices. Add alfalfa sprouts and top with the remaining slices of bread. Also try these adorable Green Tea and Mango Sandwiches that have green tea in the biscuit batter. For a wrap that is raw, vegan, gluten-free and really pretty, make these Mango Basil Coconut Wraps.

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7. Sweet Salads

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One of my favorite salads is my Avocado Mango Arugula Salad with Cilantro Citrus Dressing. It’s not only healthy, this salad is super-colorful and beautiful to look at. Creamy green avocado, sweet yellow mango, spicy arugula topped with a zingy dressing of cilantro and citrus. I like this salad because it just looks….well, it looks happy! It looks like warm weather, fun and smiles – serving this salad is guaranteed to induce good moods. Combine 2 Tbs. orange juice, 1 Tbs. lime juice, 1 tsp. lime zest, 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil, 1 Tbs. fresh chopped cilantro, 1 Tbs. fresh chopped chives, 2 tsp. red wine vinegar, a pinch of cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl and whisk until fully incorporated. Place 6 cups baby arugula on a serving platter. Top with 1 sliced avocado, 1 sliced mango, 1 sliced red bell pepper and 1 small sliced red onion. Drizzle the salad with dressing and toss just before serving.

More salads with fresh, sweet mango include this Red Quinoa and Mango Salad with Lime Dressing, Smoky Chickpea and Watercress Salad with Mango and Avocado, Soba Noodle Salad with Avocado and Mango and the Next-Day Salad with quinoa, black beans, mango, and avocado.

8. Sweet Indian-Style

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One of the things that make Indian food so amazing are the warm, fragrant spices which pair well with sweet fruits like mangoes. Mango balances chiles and other spices in this beautiful Mango Curry that is the best you’ll ever taste. On the side, serve these Mango, Coconut and Sultana Naans which have mango chutney in them. Don’t forget a beverage. Mango Lassi is a North Indian drink usually made with yogurt that tastes like a cross between a smoothie and a milkshake. Use coconut milk kefir for the yogurt and balance the sour taste with sweet mango.

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9. Sauces and Soups

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Mangoes are wonderful for marinades and sauces. I make a Mango Pineapple Hoisin Sauce over Vegan Chicken with Broccoli. This sauce combines fresh juice with sweet Chinese barbecue sauce and spicy hot sauce. You can use whatever fruit juices you like, but they should be balanced so choose one sweet fruit like mango and one more acidic fruit like pineapple. In a liquid measuring cup, combine ¾ fresh mango juice or pureed mango, ½ cup fresh pineapple juice, 1/3 cup hoisin sauce, ¼ cup tamari or soy sauce, 2 tbs. brown rice vinegar, and 1 tbs. Sriracha hot sauce. Set the sauce aside.

Cut the vegan chicken slices into smaller pieces. Put them into a large storage bag along with 1 Tbs. arrowroot powder, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. ground ginger, 1 tsp. salt, and ½ tsp. pepper. Shake well to make sure the vegan chicken is fully coated. In a large skillet, heat one Tbs. of oil over medium-high heat. Cook the vegan chicken until browned and crisp, flipping occasionally, about 5 – 6 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside. Heat the 2nd Tbs. of oil in the skillet. Add 1 diced onion and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. Add 1 diced bell pepper, 1 head of broccoli cut into florets, 1 large chopped carrot and 2 sliced scallions, each one at a time. Add 4 cloves minced garlic and 1-onch grated ginger. Stir-fry for about 5 minutes or until the vegetables are tender but still have some crunch. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast ½ cup raw cashews under medium-low heat until they are slightly browned. Be careful not to let them burn. Return the vegan chicken to the skillet and pour in the sauce. Add the cashews, toss to coat and cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Serve with brown rice. For a refreshing summer soup, try this raw Mango Butternut Squash Soup.

10. Mango Desserts

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Of course, a sweet fruit like mango is at home in desserts. You can have dessert and be healthy when you eat this Vanilla Bean and Mango Chia Pudding. Create the perfect dessert that gets its sweetness from luscious fruit. This Mango Sorbet with Banana and Pineapple is beautiful and delicious. You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream when it’s made with mangoes! Try this Raw Mango Banana Soft-Serve Ice Cream, Layered Mango and Banana Ice Cream Pops, and this Ginger Beer Mango Coconut Ice Cream Float.

These Coconut + Mango Froyo Cookie Sandwiches are adorable and yummy as are these Orange Mango Mini Cheesecakes. For a dessert that is as beautiful as it is healthy and incredible, you must try these Raw Coconut Mango Tarts with Figs, Walnuts, Cinnamon, and Ginger.

If mangoes usually make you think of tropical drinks and sweet foods, that’s great but try them in savory dishes too. This healthy and juicy fruits will bring the sunshine into your home and your food.

Lead Image Source: Raw Coconut Mango Tarts with Figs, Walnuts, Cinnamon, and Ginger