Papaya recipes for health & happiness
Boost your mood and keep your immune system in flu-fighting form this winter by adding some Aussie papaya to your meals and snacks. According to Accredited Practising Dietitian Caitlin Reid, the tropical fruit – which is available year-round – contains a unique bundle of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants which can help support overall health.
“To promote good health and a strong immune system, it’s important to maintain a diet rich in antioxidants known as carotenoids,” she says. “These plant pigments produce the bright reds, yellows and oranges of fruits and vegetables. Enjoying just one serving of Aussie papaya daily – 150g or one cup diced – as a snack or in your meals is the perfect way to help bolster your body’s antioxidant status and overall immunity.”
Keep calm and eat papaya
In just a single 150g serve of papaya, you’ll find more than double your daily requirements of vitamin C (225%) which, as an antioxidant, blocks some of the damage caused by free radicals. The antioxidants found in the fruit can also reduce inflammation in the body, improve skin elasticity and assist in the formation and repair of skin cells.
But this delicately sweet delight isn’t just good for physical health; it’s also good for your psychological wellbeing. Papaya is rich in vitamin B6 and folate, both of which have been found to be lacking in patients who suffer from depression. Research has found that the fruit contains compounds that can provide a sense of calm; while eating nutrient-rich, high-fibre fruits also keeps the good bacteria in your gut happy, leading to a better mood.
Pep up your plate
Loaded with natural sweetness and flavour, papaya is the perfect addition to your winter diet. Add it to soups, smoothies, breakfast oats or eat as a snack, with a squeeze of lime.
“Papaya pairs beautifully with seafood, coconut, passionfruit and lime,” Reid says. “My favourite way to enjoy it is as a fruit boat for breakfast or in a tasty curry.”
You can tell a papaya is ripe when the skin is green/yellow in colour. When cut, the fruit should have bright orange/red flesh. To ripen the fruit, store it on the counter or in a paper bag with a banana. (Bananas produce a gas that softens and ripens fruit.) Once it’s ripe, store it in the fridge and eat within one or two days.
5 dietitian-approved ways to enjoy Aussie papaya
1. Squeeze of citrus: pair it with a squeeze of lime or lemon for a refreshing, low-calorie snack. Add sea salt and hot paprika or chilli salt for an even zestier twist.
2. Toast topper: change up your morning brekkie! Thinly slice papaya on top of toast with goat’s cheese, honey and mint for the perfect immune-boosting breakfast or snack.
3. Satisfying smoothies: papaya is 90 percent water, so add it to your smoothies for a tasty way to stay hydrated. Try this simple tropical smoothie.
4. Level up your salads: papaya adds colour, sweetness and a tropical twist to salads. As an added benefit, the fruit delivers more than double your daily vitamin C needs. Dish up Reid’s immune-boosting salad (recipe below).
5. Boost your baking: add papaya to cakes, banana bread or muffins for a source of fibre to promote happy gut bacteria. The fruit is also rich in folate to help fight fatigue and tiredness. Try Reid’s mood-boosting papaya and lime cake (recipe below).
For more recipes and information about Australian papaya, click here.
Immune-boosting chicken and papaya salad
Recipe by Caitlin Reid
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 15 minutes
½ cup quinoa
1 avocado, chopped
200g punnet cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cup mint
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lime juice
1 cos lettuce, shredded
1 BBQ chicken with skin and bones removed, shredded
½ papaya, sliced
100g Greek feta, crumbled
1. Cook quinoa according to directions on the packet.
2. In a bowl, toss tomatoes, avocado, mint, lime zest and olive oil. Leave to marinate.
3. Place shredded lettuce in bowl. Scatter chicken and quinoa on top.
4. Toss through tomato, avocado and mint mix.
5. Place papaya slices on top of salad.
6. Crumble feta over the top and serve.
Mood-boosting papaya and lime cake
Recipe by Caitlin Reid
Prep time 10 minutes
Cook time 1 hour
½ papaya, sliced and ½ of the slices cut in half
1 cup coconut sugar
½ cup olive oil
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1 tbsp grated lime rind
⅓ cup lime juice
1 cup plain Greek yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2¼ cups self-raising flour
Icing sugar, for dusting
1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and grease a 22cm springform cake tin.
2. Place coconut sugar, olive oil, eggs, lime rind, lime juice, yoghurt and vanilla extract into bowl and mix for 1 minute or until well combined.
3. Add self-raising flour and mix until lump-free.
4. Pour half of the mixture into cake tin. Smooth mixture and top with halved papaya slices.
5. Pour remaining mixture into cake tin. Smooth and top with remaining papaya slices.
6. Bake for 50 minutes. Cover with foil and cook for another 10 minutes, or until skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
7. Cool in cake tin for 10 minutes before removing. Dust with icing sugar before serving.