There’s a reason papaya is a major player in the skincare industry…
Summer is officially-unofficially here (technically there are still a few days left of spring, which is difficult to believe). Along with sun, blue sky and sweltering humidity, comes my complete inability to turn on the stove. Hot temperatures I can deal with, but I have zero desire to make things any warmer than they already are with a hot oven. But as markets are brimming with fresh produce and fruits, who needs heat? Summer is the perfect time to cool your body down with everything fresh and crisp — from bright green local lettuce to more exotic tropical fruits coming into their prime season. To me, papaya is the taste of summer all wrapped up in one convenient package. Peeled, cubed, and drizzled with a little lime juice, this exotic berry (yup, not actually a fruit!) makes a simple meal that nourishes while it cools from the inside out. There’s a reason papaya is a major player in the skincare industry — the antioxidants and enzymes present provide vital nutrition internally while boasting the ability to resurface and renew skin externally. Today I’m diving into the beautiful papaya — what it is, the benefits and, most importantly, how to eat it. Scroll on to learn more and find a cooling recipe, no heat required.
What is it? Believed to be native to Southern Mexico or Central America and originally cultivated in Mexico, the papaya is a large berry with bright orange flesh and greenish-gold skin when ripe. Similar in texture to an avocado (a very juicy avocado), when sliced in half a ripe papaya will reveal dark brown seeds that are easily scooped out. Papaya is available year-round but peak in summer and early fall, making them the perfect addition to fresh fruit breakfasts and snacks on those 90-degree days when you can’t bring yourself to turn on the stove.
What are the benefits? Rich in vitamin C, folate, fibre, antioxidants, beta-carotene, and beneficial enzymes, papayas can benefit the entire body, from head to toe, internally and externally. The vitamin C present in papaya can help boost immunity, and help resurface skin when applied as a mask. Rich in fibre and the enzyme papain, when combined these two nutrients can aid in digestion, helping to break down proteins and scrubbing the digestive tract (papains) and moving food through the system faster and more efficiently (fibre). The presence of fibre also aids in heart health by potentially lowering cholesterol. A popular ingredient in over-the-counter skin care products for good reason, papain, the beneficial enzyme in papaya, can help slough away dead skin cells when applied to the skin, and the vitamin C and other antioxidants can help resurface and smooth skin.
How do I use it? When choosing a papaya, the skin should be a mix of light green and gold tones, and it should be about as soft as a ripe avocado. Papaya is delicious fresh, especially topped with a bit of lime juice and honey, and it blends easily into smoothies. It’s also a great topping for chia puddings, yogurt, smoothie bowls, oatmeal, and banana ice cream. Create an easy face mask by mashing fresh papaya together with a bit of raw honey and applying to clean, dry skin (always do a patch test first). Create a hair mask by mixing mashed papaya with jojoba oil and applying to hair before rinsing.
Papaya Breakfast Smoothie Bowl
½ banana, frozen
½ cup frozen cauliflower
1 tbsp coconut butter
⅛ tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup nut milk or coconut water
Dash of cinnamon
Optional: Scoop of vanilla protein powder of choice
Chopped almonds and blueberries, to top
To prepare the papaya, slice lengthwise and use a spoon to scoop out the seeds. Set ½ aside or freeze for later use.
Place frozen banana, cauliflower, coconut butter, vanilla, nut milk, cinnamon, and protein powder (if using) in a blender or food processor. Process on high until mixture is smooth. Pour into the papaya half and top with almonds, blueberries, and any other toppings of choice. Enjoy!
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This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.