Papaya is one of those foods that often slips under the radar. Unless you’re on a tropical vacation (here’s to hoping) you probably don’t eat this tasty fruit very often, which is a shame since it’s packed with fiber, vitamin C, folate, and carotenoids (which turn into vitamin A in the body). If you are bored with your run of the mill bananas and apples, grab a papaya and try one of these exotic recipes. You’ll feel like your on vacation in no time.
It just so happens that my absolute favorite Thai dish stars papaya–it’s called green papaya salad (or “som tom”). If you have ever stared at the greasy noodle-filled options on the Thai takeout menu, struggling to find a single healthy option, this is a great one to try. For this recipe you’re actually looking for a very underripe papaya (green skin rather than turning orange). It’s shredded and then tossed with a simple spicy/savory/sweet dressing, some raw green beans, carrots, and tomatoes, and finished with peanuts. Be warned that this recipe has a lot of heat, so cut out the chiles for a milder version.
Love papaya in its fully sweet and ripe form? Try it in a tropical smoothie bowl. Simply blend half a papaya with 1/2 cup frozen mango, 1/2 frozen banana and 1/2 cup almond milk and you will immediately feel like you’re on the beach. Add ice if you prefer it extra cold. To make it a heartier smoothie, add a handful of oats for fiber and a few handful of spinach or kale (as long as you’re prepared to lose that beautiful orange color) and blend. You can drink it as is, or top with toppings (like coconut, chia seeds, hemp hearts, almonds, banana slices, berries, etc) and eat it as a smoothie bowl.
Use the Leftovers
Wondering what to do with the other half of the papaya? Throw it in a salad with avocado, quinoa, and sunflower seeds or use it to make a fruity salsa by dicing it finely and adding red onion, jalapeño, cilantro, and lime juice. Even though it’s officially fall, it’s not too late to enjoy this delicious and super nutrient packed fruit!