This humble fruit can do wonders for your health. Keep reading for tips on buying, storing and using papayas.
Papayas are one of the best foods that you can eat. The enzyme, papain, found in papaya helps the body break down proteins and can alleviate symptoms of gas, bloating and IBS.
In one study, people who took a papaya based formula for 40 days saw significant improvement in constipation and bloating.
Papaya is one of the most nutrient dense foods with high levels of beta-carotene, vitamins C and A and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus and iron. Papaya also contains vital anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties.
It is one of the best foods to eat when healing from chronic illness. When I first began healing I ate a papaya every single day! It soothes the digestive tract while providing essential fatty acids, minerals and vitamins to repair and rebuild muscles, tissues and organs.
It is a beneficial fruit for all, especially if you suffer from IBS, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, shingles, EBV and other viral illnesses. You CAN eat the seeds but they are very cleansing and not for everyone. Papaya seeds have a peppery flavor and can be added to smoothies or salad dressings. I personally crush the seeds and drink with lime juice and water. Papaya seeds are great for healing constipation and are also anti-parasitic. Best to take it slow though, too many seeds can cause diarrhea. I use about 5-6 seeds in my lime juice.
Where To Buy, When To Buy and When To Eat:
As humans, we tend to stick to what we know. If we're not sure about how to use something or don't want to waste money, we may avoid it all together. Fruit is notoriously unreliable as far as flavor, quality and ripeness and papayas are no exception. But with a little info and practice, you'll never waste food again!
First: Where to Buy
Papayas are sold in almost all grocery stores and international markets. But honestly, for a piece of fruit they can get pretty expensive. Here's the kicker, most grocery stores sell fruit by the pound and because papayas are a very heavy, fleshy and dense fruit, they can drive up the cost. So if you are paying by the pound, a single papaya can run you anywhere from $5 - $8. That doesn't sound very ideal, especially if you want to enjoy them on a consistent basis. Let me clue you in on a little known secret. The best place to purchase papayas at a conventional grocery store is Trader Joe's. Yep, all single produce items at TJs are sold per EACH. That means no matter how much something weighs, you pay one flat rate, they don't even have scales there! A papaya at Trader Joe's will cost you around $3.29, depending on what part of the country you live in. Another great place to buy papayas and other tropical fruits is at an international market or farmers market. These places often have much lower prices on exotic fruits than a national chain. In Atlanta, GA, the Dekalb Farmer's Market is a great place to buy items in bulk as well as weekly shopping. You may see a few different varieties of papaya but for the most part they all look and taste relatively similar.
Second: When To Buy
If you're like most people, you may buy a ton of fruit when you're feeling particularly inspired and then once it gets home it seems to lose some of its charm and falls to the wayside. That's okay, happens to the best of us. Some fruits can handle a bit of neglect, like apples and some citrus, especially if you keep them in the refrigerator. However, softer fruits require a little more special attention and daily inspection to know when they are getting close to the end. Example: avocados, one minute they're hard as a rock, the next minute they're dead, totally brown and unusable (what's the deal with avocados???). Anyway, the papaya is no different, however, the signs of ripening are easier to spot, here's how. When papayas are picked off the tree they are usually bright green and have shiny skins. They are very firm, like a watermelon. Depending on the harvesting time and shipment, retailers can receive cases of papaya that range from extremely underripe (not ready to eat, could take a week to ripen) and extremely ripe (ready now or yesterday). When shopping for papayas I recommend buying them on the riper side. Look for papayas that are more yellow than green and whose skin is more dull than shiny. This is more of a personal preference but I find I have better luck with fruit that ripens in transit or is picked closer to ripe than food that is picked too early and has to ripen on my counter. (Bananas are a prime example of this. I always buy them very yellow, otherwise, they seem to go from green to grey once I get them home).
Lastly: When To Eat?
Okay, here's a few pro-tips from me to you, but I always say to use your intuition when selecting fruit and determining when it's ready to eat. As I've mentioned earlier, the flesh will turn from a shiny, vibrant green to a dull, yellow orange. Look for the coloring difference and changes for your first clue. Secondly, a ripe papaya will have a good amount of give when you squeeze it, (not too hard!) Hold it in your hand it give it a firm press with your thumb. It should be nice a tender but not to where you can poke your finger through it. Lastly, and this is important, do not be alarmed if you see mold growing at the stem end of the papaya. I have cut into many a papaya that had a few mold spots on them and they were the most delicious piece of fruit I've ever eaten. Tropical fruit tends to taste best when it is verrrry ripe and kind of ugly, and sometimes that means mold. No biggie, just cut the ends off or cut around the mold, the skin is thick enough where you won't damage too much of the fruit. Okay? Okay.
Now, what you really came here for: RECIPES! Yes! What do I do with this beautiful, exotic fruit I now know so much about? Here are 11 ways to enjoy papaya.
Remove stem end of papaya, cut in half, scoop out seeds, sprinkle with lime juice and enjoy!
Papaya boats: Cut papaya in half down the middle, scoop out the seeds. Add in fresh cut banana, chopped dates (pitted), fresh mango chunks and fresh raspberries!
Papaya Chili Lime Mango Salad: Cut papaya in half and scoop out seeds. Peel the skin from the papaya and cut into chunks. Add fresh mango, juice from half a lime and add some Chili Lime Seasoning (from Trader Joe's.)
Papaya Passionfruit: This combination is insane! Bursting with sweet and tangy flavors. Cut papaya in half, scoop out seeds. Cut passionfruit in half and squeeze the juice and seeds over the papaya halves. Enjoy!
Pitaya Power Smoothie: 2 Bananas, 1/2 papaya (no skin, scoop out or peel), 1 fresh dragonfruit or 1 packet frozen dragonfruit. (Can also use powdered dragonfruit/pitaya powder). Add a splash of coconut water, blend and enjoy!
Tropical Bliss Smoothie: 2 bananas, 1/2 papaya, 1 cup mango chunks. Add a splash of coconut water, blend and enjoy!
Red Sunrise Smoothie: 2 bananas, 1/2 papaya, 1 cup raspberries. Add 1/2 cup coconut water if needed, blend and enjoy!
Blue Tropic Smoothie: 2 bananas, 1/2 papaya, 1 cup frozen wild blueberries. Add coconut water if needed, blend and enjoy!
Gut Soother Smoothie: 2 bananas, 1/2 papaya, 2 one inch chunks of fresh aloe (inner filet) or sub 6 ounces pure aloe vera juice. Blend together and enjoy.
Green Machine Smoothie: 2 bananas, 1/2 papaya, 1 tbsp raw honey, 2 cups fresh spinach. Add coconut water if needed (1/2 cup) blend and enjoy.
Persimmon Pudding Smoothie: 2 bananas, 1/4 papaya, 2 very ripe persimmons, 1 date (pitted), 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon. Add 1/2 cup coconut water if needed for smoother consistency, blend and ENJOY!
Feel free to experiment and see what other delicious recipes you come up with! These are some of my personal favorites. As always keep it simple, keep it clean and keep it healing!
Follow me on Instagram @allnatwellness for more tips, information and inspiration.