Once, I bought a papaya at a fruit stand in NYC, got it back to my friend’s apartment, and was like, “Ok, now what?” I ended up eating a few bites by the spoonful, then trading it in for a liquid (read: wine) snack instead. But thanks to our health/fitness expert and food whisperer Cara, we will never be baffled by this big-ass fruit again. It can be found all year round, but the peak season is early summer and fall, so check out Cara’s how-to papaya guide, then pick one up and #MakeHealthyHappen!
There are some fruits and vegetables you pass by in the produce section and think “Hmmm, what is that thing and how the hell do I eat it?” Some of mine are: jicama, papaya, spaghetti squash, artichoke hearts, and bok choy (basically all of the large and ugly ones).
This week, I decided to tackle the papaya because I have been reading about the MANY health benefits of this melon-esque fruit, from helping digestion and dissolving fats (we all like the sound of that!) to reducing age-related loss of vision! As I read this article, I found myself taking another bite of my raw papaya salad (pictured below) after every listed benefit. It’s truly the “Fruit of the Angels” as Christopher Columbus called it. (You’re welcome for the history lesson.)
Now for the preparing!
As you can see, the fruit is as big as your head so it will feed you for days! Unless you’re feeding a large family, one should be enough. Pick one that is turning from green to yellow in color and soft enough to press your thumb into the flesh but not too mushy. If you get a firm, green one, let it sit on your counter for 2-3 days.
And now, how to EAT that thang!
1. Spicy salsa. Mix diced papaya, cilantro, chopped jalapeno peppers, and chopped ginger together to make a unique, delicious salsa that pairs perfectly with shrimp, scallops, and halibut (or lime-flavored tortilla chips).
2. Simple citrus. Sprinkle papaya with fresh lime juice and ENJOY!
3. Tropical fruit salad. Check out this Yummly recipe, but you can use most any fruits; I used blueberries, kiwi, and pineapple in mine. It’s great for hot days and serving over spinach or tenderized kale (click here for the kale 411) to make an extra-healthy salad.
4. Roasted maple cinnamon delicousness. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the papaya with cinnamon and place it in the oven for 15-20 minutes until heated all the way through.
Drizzle maple syrup over the fruit while it is still warm from the oven and let it cool for a few minutes before serving/eating with a spoon.
This is so delicious and can certainly satisfy those sweet cravings, so feel free to save it for dessert! I even used my leftovers for the fruit salad.
So go get you a papaya and take pics of your creations using the hashtag #makinghealthyhappen on Instagram; I will pick a winner by Thursday for a week of health coaching (plenty of time to make some positive changes). Here’s to tackling a monster fruit and making it a regular part of your diet!
For more on Cara, visit her website, and if you’re in Atlanta, come by and see us this Wednesday for another healthy eating seminar where you’ll learn about portions and portion control, snag some new recipes, and get a pint of Chuice and a copy of “The Get Real Diet.”