Monday, January 7, 2013

Guess What I'm Eating: Papaya (Paw Paw)

This amazing fruit brings back the greatest memories of growing up on the most beautiful island in the world.  Jamaica, of course!  Imagine being able to eat the most delicious and interesting fruits freshly picked from the tree in your backyard or neighborhood. NO pesticides, NO additives, NO weird flavors and NO questionable sizes and shapes.....where a girl's gotta be wondering, "What in the world?".  Everything sweet, everything juicy, everything just ripe, everything ORGANIC!  That's the good life!  Ohhhh, do I miss those days!   But food transportation has made it possible for me to at least relive those memories for just a little bit, even if the fruit is freshly picked from elegantly organized tables on the outskirts of the supermarket.  Since I'm new in town, I am still looking for the best places to find cheap but good quality produce.  I have a large pool right now with Trader Joe's, Ralphs, H-Mart, Vons, Sprouts and Whole Foods swirling around in it. 

 Let me not lie.

 I cut off Whole Foods once I got here.  I only make a visit for specific things like nutritional yeast or carob powder.  They are unfortunately doing the most with those high prices.  Trader's Joe's is a staple and now I just recently found an even better deal for produce than H-mart at a large Mexican Supermarket. That's where I bought this gorgeous one! 

So what's the deal with papaya or paw paw, as we call it in Jamaica?  

For one, it is pretty easy to buy here.  That's a plus in my book.   Secondly, it has a beautiful orange color and a really sweet flavor.  It's melon-like and thus is packed with water so it's really refreshing as well.  
Side note:  I actually put it in my green smoothies from time to time.  Bomb!  

It is an excellent source of Vitamin C and Vitamin A and also contains other essential nutrients like folate, potassium, Vitamin E, Vitamin K and of course, fiber.   Fiber is the key to function if you catch my drift.  :)  It has thousands of micronutrients in the form of carotenes (gives the orange/yellow color) and flavonoids, which can serve as antioxidants and contribute to overall heart and colon health.  

Here's just a little history and random facts for ya:
  It's unclear where this fruit originated but it is thought to be native to the Americas and was termed the "fruit of the angels" by Christopher Columbus.  It is also known to contain an enzyme called papain that actually helps to digest protein, which is why "paw paw" can be used as a meat tenderizer.  

I'm not even playing around right now.  Grubbing!

You'll know it's ripe when 75% to 100% of the fruit is yellow or yellow-orange and gives slightly when you press into it.  It will also be ridiculously fragrant once the fruit is cut open.  
This big guy is great for fruit salads, dressings, drinks, sauces or just all by you can see  :)

Give this fruit a try if you haven't before.  I think you'll like it.

1.  Margen, Sheldon, MD.  The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition.  University of California Berkeley.
2.  The World's Healthiest Foods: Papaya.  

Thank you for reading! My people, I appreciate you all so much.  Be happy and healthy.  Ciao!

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