In this week's The Willowbee Tree story, “Dreams and Fancy,” like many three-year-olds, little Ty has an active imagination. His sister, Piper, sometimes doesn't appreciate his sense of wonder—especially when she is in a hurry. But when the Willow Tree takes them to the Amazon Rainforest, a place of abundant fancy, Piper learns how to better engage with her brother's imagination.
If you've listened to the story, you'll know that one type of animal the children run into is a troop of spider monkeys. (Did you know that a group of monkeys is called a “troop”?)
Spider monkeys are among the most intelligent “New World” monkeys. They live in the rainforest canopies from Mexico to South America, hardly ever visiting the forest floor. They even eat hanging upside down from trees!
But what do they eat? I'm so glad you asked! Spider monkeys are what's called “frugivores,” which means that they prefer to eat fruit. They supplement their mostly-fruit diet with honey, young leaves and flowers, bark, and the occasional insect or bird egg.
For this recipe, though, we'll mostly stick to the fruit.
This fruit salad is made up of all the tropical fruit a spider monkey would love. A word of advice though — while it seems plain wrong to make a monkey salad without using banana, even with the lime juice treatment the banana in this recipe is given, the banana will brown quickly. As such, I recommend making this salad just before you want to eat it, or, at the least, adding the banana at the very last minute.
Likewise, it's best to sprinkle on the toppings right before eating, so that they don't loose their crunch. Both coconut and cashews are most definitely on the spider monkey diet. Chocolate chips are not, of course, but most of the world's cocoa does come from rainforest areas. (And besides, you can pretend they're bugs!) You can sprinkle a little of each on top of your salad or pick and choose according to your own preference. Either way, you'll have a snack or side dish that a spider monkey would love.
Spider Monkey Fruit Salad
2 cups mango
2 cups pineapple
2 kiwi fruits
3 tablespoons lime juice, divided
Fresh ginger (a piece about as big as the tip of your thumb)
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup sweetened coconut chips and/or
¼ cup chopped cashews and/or
¼ cup chocolate chips
Cut the mango and pineapple into about 1-inch chunks and combine in a large bowl.
Use a knife to remove the skin from the kiwi fruits, cut the kiwi into similarly-sized chunks, and add them to the bowl, as well.
Next, mince or grate the ginger. Put the ginger, lime juice, and honey in a small jar with a tight fitting lid, and shake it hard to combine. Pour the mixture over the fruit and toss it all gently together.
Right before you're ready to eat, slice the banana into chunks, too, and quickly sprinkle it with about a tablespoon of lime juice. Add it to the fruit mixture in the bowl, and gently toss the whole salad one more time to get the banana well incorporated.
Last, sprinkle on your chosen toppings. While I recommend you eat this salad immediately, I do not recommend that you take things so far as to eat it upside down.
I promise that it's just as refreshing and vibrant when eaten sitting at a table!
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About the Author
The Sparkle Kitchen Series is created by Meryl Carver-Allmond.
Meryl lives in a hundred-year-old house near the prairie with her sweet husband, two preschoolers, one puppy, one gecko, and about ten chickens. While she's been writing since she could pick up a pen, in recent years she's discovered the joy of photography, too. She feels lucky to be able to combine those skills, along with a third passion — showing people that cooking for themselves can be healthy and fun — in her Sparkle Kitchen posts.