Summer is Popping with Papaya

Are you terrified of the indigestion you will feel after eating at this summer’s cookouts? Papaya may be able to help you. Although we know very little about where the fruit came from, papayas are now widely produced throughout Africa, the Caribbean, Florida, India and the Pacific. In Latin America, the biggest producers of papayas are Costa Rica, Guatemala and Mexico. Papayas are pear-shaped and contain an enzyme named papain, which helps to break down protein in food and eases digestion.

Papayas are known as pawpaws in some places and contain minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and sodium. The fruit is considered a berry and is full of vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and D. Because of its nutritional value, papayas have been known to help with more than just indigestion. There have also been claims that papayas help with swelling and back pain.

Although doctors still need to do more research about the effects of papaya, a study in the Journal of Medicinal Food from May 2007 found that papayas fight parasites in the intestines without many allergic reactions. In 2009, another study in the Journal of Medicinal Food found that papayas may help people with stomach ulcers.

With all these benefits in mind, why not try to include papayas in your diet regularly? The tasty fruit can be cut up and placed in salads, blended into a smoothie or used to tenderize meat. It can even be used to top off your yogurt or cottage cheese. Ease your indigestion symptoms with some papaya. Here are a couple of recipes you might enjoy:

1. PAPAYA CHICKEN

Courtesy of Cooking Channel

INGREDIENTS:

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 onion, chopped

2 tablespoons grated fresh garlic

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon paprika

2 pound chicken breast, boneless and skinless, cut into 1-inch pieces

1/2 cup yogurt

1 cup papaya chunks

Serving suggestion: Serve with rice or rotis.

DIRECTIONS:

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and ginger and saute until the onion is softened, about 4 minutes. Add the cumin seeds, coriander, fenugreek seeds, and paprika and toast for 10 seconds and then add the chicken pieces and cook until it is nearly done, about 8 minutes. Add the yogurt and finish cooking the chicken, about 2 more minutes and then stir in the papaya chunks.

2. GREEN PAPAYA SALAD

Courtesy of The Kitchn

INGREDIENTS (Serves 4 as a side):

For the dressing:

1 to 2 tablespoons small dried shrimp

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

2 medium limes, juiced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 to 3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 red Thai chili pepper, sliced thinly (adjust amounts to the spice level you desire)

For the salad:

1 small green papaya (1 to 1 1/2 pounds) peeled, seeded, and grated (or 3 cups pre-shredded green papaya)

1 cup bean sprouts

3 medium scallions, sliced thin

1/2 cup fresh Thai basil leaves, roughly chopped 

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 to 2 small tomatoes, cut into strips (optional)

1/2 cup raw peanuts, crushed

DIRECTIONS:
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a bowl and crush with a pestle or the back of a spoon to release the flavors. Taste, and adjust the fish sauce to your liking. Add the chiles bit by bit until you get the spice level you can handle. Add the other salad ingredients and toss well. Taste and adjust the lime juice or fish sauce if needed.

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