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A Vegan Dream! Why Jackfruit Is the New Meatless BBQ

Uptons Naturals

A huge fruit that grows on trees in South and Southeast Asia, jackfruit is set to take the vegan dining world by storm. Given that jackfruit has a similar texture to pulled pork (and you can roast it and add meaty flavors to it), it makes a great natural substitute for fish, pork, and more—true music to a vegan's ears!

Kristina Addington, chef and owner of the Louisville, Kentucky-based food truck V-Grits (which stands for "vegan girl raised in the South") loves to incorporate the fruit into her cooking. She first tried jackfruit at a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles, where it was being used as a tuna substitute. After playing around with it, she found the fruit worked really well with barbecue flavors.

Want to get started using it yourself? Experiment with these three tips.

1. Check the Asian markets. Addington buys canned jackfruit in water at Asian markets. You can also search for them online. Just avoid the ones packed in syrup, which are very sweet and more dessert-like (not to mention higher in sugar). She says you should drain and squeeze the fruit to get rid of as much water as you can for the meatiest texture.

2. Master the pulled-jack. Addington's go-to with jackfruit is called a pulled-jack sandwich (see what she did there?). Here's how it works: Coat the drained pieces with a spice rub and roast at 375°F for 25 to 30 minutes. Then add barbecue sauce, shred with a fork, and make your sammie! Easy peasy.

3. Go fresh or seasoned. If you want to try it fresh, find a younger, less-ripe fruit (also at Asian markets), which will be lighter in color. (A less-mature fruit will be firmer, and better suited for savory flavors.) Or you can buy the fruit seasoned and ready to eat in barbecue and chili lime flavors from Upton's Naturals ($5; uptonsnaturals.com). With just 45 calories, and 4 grams of fiber per serving, it's a healthy and delicious way to get your BBQ fix. (Plus, don't miss these 6 Vegan Barbecue Recipes.)

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