January 3, 2011
California kiwi a popular, nutrient-packed fruit

Couscous.jpgBy Niesha Lofing

Kiwi is quite the popular little fruit.

California kiwifruit farmers reported a larger crop and stronger demand at the end of their harvest season, with farmers having sold nearly 9 million trays of the fuzzy fruit last year, about 2 million more than in 2009, according to the California Farm Bureau Federation.

Weather in other Northern Hemisphere countries hurt kiwifruit production, but California's crop escaped most damage from frost and rain, leading to an increase in demand for California kiwifruit, the bureau's Food and Farms News report stated.

And if you're like the millions of others resolving to eat better this year, you may want to add kiwifruit to the mix.

Consider this: each serving of kiwifruit is fat free, has more potassium than a banana and about 2 1/2 times the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and is a good source of antioxidants, the California Kiwifruit Commission reports on its website.

It's also high in fiber - two kiwifruit contain more fiber than a bowl of bran cereal.

California kiwifruit season runs through May.

For tips on selecting kiwifruit and ideas on how to use them, check out the commission's website.

Follow the link below to get a recipe for Mediterranean kiwi couscous.

Mediterranean Kiwi Couscous
Serves: 4 to 6
This recipe is courtesy of the California Kiwifruit Commission.

3/4 cup water
1/2 cup couscous
3 California kiwifruit
1 yellow or orange pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, preferably spicy
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup shredded fresh basil

In a small saucepan, lightly salt water then bring to a boil. Add couscous, stir, cover and remove from heat. Let stand until water is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, peel kiwifruit and cut into bite-size chunks. Dice pepper and slice large cherry tomatoes in half. Pit olives if needed and thinly slice green onions. Place all in a medium bowl.

Whisk vinegar with oil, garlic, oregano and generous pinches salt and pepper. When couscous has cooled, gently stir with kiwifruit mixture. Toss with as much dressing as needed to just coat. Stir in feta and basil. Salad will keep well refrigerated for 1 to 2 days.

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