A Perfect Papaya Pick-Me-Up

By Paula Detwiller

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Have you tried a papaya lately? This sweet, silky fruit is oh-so-soothing on a hot summer day. Maybe that’s why June is National Papaya Month. It’s the perfect time to celebrate a tropical fruit that’s not only tasty, but also high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and potassium. And only 55 calories per cup!

Papaya Fun Facts

Native to Central and South America, papaya can grow from a seed to a fruit-bearing tree in less than 18 months—and the tree produces fruit year-round. No wonder early European explorers grew fond of papaya; Christopher Columbus is said to have called it “the fruit of the angels.”

This heavenly fruit contains an enzyme called papain that aids digestion. In fact, papaya (also known as “pawpaw”) was used for centuries as a remedy for digestive problems. Meanwhile, the spicy black seeds of the papaya were used for reducing inflammation and pain, thanks to their analgesic properties. Today, many cooks dry the seeds, grind them up, and use them like pepper.

Let’s Make Papaya Smoothies!

Are you ready for a nutrient-packed summer pick-me-up? Try this recipe (serves two):

4 ice cubes

2 cups chopped papaya (peeled and seeded)

1 cup chilled pineapple juice

½ cup milk

½ cup sliced banana

1 Tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons fresh lime juice

Crush the ice cubes in a blender, then add remaining ingredients. Puree until smooth. Pour into chilled glasses and enjoy.

In addition to blended drinks, papaya is fantastic in salads, cold soups, and salsas—particularly when served over spicy meat or fish. 

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