As a little girl, no trip to “the city”, a.k.a, New York City was complete until, at my mother’s pleading, my dad pulled the car over at 86th and 3rd, to fullfil her craving for the then exotic fruit, slightly odd tasting fruit, papaya, always available at the now historical Papaya King. She adored this gorgeously colored fruit which, to my young palette tasted a bit, well, off. Still, I loved anything coconut, and a trip to Papaya King meant a coconut treat for me!
As I grew up and traveled some, my taste buds came on board. In the Southern Philippines, I learned to stab a slice of fresh papaya with my fork, and then fill the tiny rows of holes with fresh squeezed Calamansi, a kind of citrus, not quite like a lemon or a lime, but these will do.
It was here that I also learned to love crisp, tart, unripe, green papaya, sliced into sticks, then dipped in vinegar and spicy salt. Later, in New York City, I learned you can julienne green papaya to add to salads and savory dishes.
In Mexico and in Panama, I came to love thick fruit smoothies, either alone or paired with bananas or pineapple or strawberries. I cut the papaya into cubes and store it in bags in the freezer. This way my smoothies are cold and fruity, undiluted by water or ice cubes.
Today, I enjoy teaming my papaya up with the taste of coconut, which I still adore.
But when I was first diagnosed as pre-diabetic (I have corrected this with my diet), I steered away from sweets, including fruits in general, since sugar is sugar… isn’t it?
With a Glycemic Index value of 59, Papaya is generally considered a “medium” sugar threat. And now for the good news: On the Glycemic Load Index, papaya measures at a low 10.
The Glycemic Load refers to the body’s response to sugars by taking into account both the quantity of carbohydrates as well as the type of carbohydrates. For a detailed explanation of glycemic values and how they are calculated, Click Here. In short, this means that eating papaya occasionally, especially if paired with other foods, doesn’t necessarily cause blood sugars to spike.
When I have a true craving for something sweet, I make this delicious treat using only four healthy ingredients.
1 Cup papaya, diced.
2 Heaping tablespoons coconut milk (I like to spoon it on, chilled)
1 Tablespoon crushed flax seeds (easy to crush up in a coffee grinder!)
1 Slice of Lemon or Lime
TIP: Keep papaya cubes cold and handy by freezing them. Then, use the same above ingredients to blend into a fresh smoothie, and, if you are feeling festive, add and ounce and a half of rum!