Friday, June 15, 2012

June is Papaya Month!

Want a piece of the Caribbean without forking out $1000 to get there? No worries, just pick up a papaya. For some reason, this tropical fruit hasn't increased in popularity here. Truth be told, I didn't even know what one tasted like until Dan picked one up and placed it in our grocery cart. My initial reaction was: "What, why are we spending X amount on a fruit?" Yet, my Dietitian ways gave in because I know healthy food is the cheapest insurance policy anyone can buy. My frugal budget would just get stretched elsewhere (goodbye for now Genesis 1:29 sprouted grain and seed bread). That shopping trip I would have been perfectly comfortable getting the tried and true strawberries, blueberries, and the apple-orange-banana crowd pleasers. That was before my papaya popping days.
Turns out that expensive fruit was a solid nutritional investment. Each cup of cubed papaya (can I tell you how much I like typing the word 'papaya'?!) has 2 1/2g fiber, 1 1/2 day supply of vitamin C, close to a third of the vitamin A you need, 14% of a day's folate, and 6% of a day's potassium...all for just 60 calories! That means there's no need to stop at just one cup. :)
The best part is that there is nothing like the subtle, sweet, tropical taste. All you have to do is scoop out the black seeds and avoid eating the skin. Sounds pretty simple, right? Just look for the papayas that are at least partially yellow on the outside. If they are hard and green, they're immature and won't ripen properly. Similar to other fruits, they should give slightly to pressure. When it's completely yellow, slice open and indulge. No plane ticket to the Caribbean necessary.
If you don't want to eat it alone, here are 7 ways to incorporate papaya:

1. Toss papaya in with mango, melon, and pineapple for an 'exotic' fruit salad.
2. Similar to peach or pineapple salsa, next time throw papaya into the mix.
3. Grill them! Cut in half, scoop out the seeds and grill until marks appear.
4. Blend with strawberries, banana, and a naval orange for a refreshing smoothie.
5. Pop a papaya popsicle! Freeze slices of the papaya by themselves or on sticks for a cool treat.
6. After prepping papaya, mix into a nut and fruited couscous pilaf. Serve in papaya skins.
7. Simply squeeze fresh lemon or lime juice on slices to enhance the flavors.

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