After an exceedingly cold and long winter, I promised myself that I would never again complain about summer heat…until now. It is hot and its sticky here already and it isn’t even noontime. In any other part of the country, a hot, humid day is bearable when you can flip on the a/c and chill out, literally. Unfortunately in Maine, the closest thing we have to air conditioning is opening a window. Am I complaining too much? No wonder my thoughts are turning to the tropics. Summer is one of the best times to experiment with tropical fruits that cool you down and improve your health at the same time. Here are a couple you can add to your summer dishes and drinks.
Explorer Christopher Columbus called papaya the “fruit of angels” and ancient civilizations like the Maya considered the papaya tree sacred calling it their “Tree of Life.” It’s no wonder the papaya has been touted so often in ancient history as it is packed with nutrients.
- Antioxidants — papaya is rich in nutrients like Vitamin A and C which support a healthy immune system. In fact, the papaya has 33% more Vit C than an orange.
- Fiber - we already know that fiber is helpful in improving cholesterol. One cup of papaya chunks has 2.5 grams of fiber.
- Enzymes — digestive enzymes are essential to help maintain our digestive system and improve elimination and colon health. Papain is an enzyme found in the papaya that aids digestion. It may also help break down proteins, fats and starches for better absorption and elimination.
- Anti-Inflammatory — Papaya has nutrients that reduce inflammation in the body which helps to speed up the healing process.
In order to get the best benefits from this angelic fruit, make sure it’s fully ripened. You can do this by allowing the fruit to ripen at room temperature. Here are some great ways to add papaya to your plate this summer:
- Breakfast — papaya slices or chunks are great over cereal, in a yogurt cup, or whipped into a fruit smoothie.
- Lunch — cut up some chunks and sprinkle on a summer salad or add to your favorite salsa recipe instead of tomatoes.
- Dinner — Experiment with grilled papaya as a great side dish to beef, chicken or fish.
- Dessert - how about a papaya popsicle? Just blend fresh papaya in a blender until smooth along with some vanilla ice cream then pour into a popsicle mold and freeze overnight.
I must admit that I’ve never been one to experiment with many tropical fruits so the mango hasn’t been on my must-have list until now. Apparently, I’m in the minority since the mango is considered the most popular fruit on the planet consumed by more people throughout the world than any other fruit…where have I been? Considered a super-food, the mango is full of remarkable benefits.
- Cancer prevention — researchers have found that specific compounds in the mango, like quercetin and gallic acid help protect against colon, prostate, breast cancers and leukemia.
- Skin & Eye Health — the vitamins in mangos help reduce night blindness and dry eyes as well as the topical benefits of clearing pores and reducing breakouts.
- Alkalinity - although it may sound counter-intuitive, the tartaric, malic and citric acid in mangos actually help reduce inflammation and increase the body’s natural alkalinity.
- Reducing heat stroke risk - according to Care2.com, juicing a green mango and mixing it with water helps reduce toxins in the kidneys and allows the body to regulate its temperature when the mercury rises.
Much like the papaya, mangos are best eaten when ripened at room temperature. A fully ripened mango is slightly soft to the touch with a yellow tinge on the skin indicating it’s ready to eat. Be sure to eat the mango fruit and not the peel. For some people who are susceptible to poison ivy/oak, contact with mango skin may irritate the lips or tongue.
Take any of the above papaya suggestions and replace them with mangos and you’ll be on your way to a soothing, cooling tropical treat! Here’s one of our favorite recipes:
- Mango-Steak Bites — cook a flank steak to medium-rare, slice thinly and spread with Chevre cheese. Roll up up the steak/cheese strip into bite-sized portions and top with a slice of fresh or dried mango and a sprig of mint. They are crazy good especially when served chilled on a hot evening.
Whatever you do to cool off this summer, be sure to include some of these amazingly beneficial and delectable fruits. I promise I’ll do the same and maybe my whining will wain in spite of the warm weather!
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“A table, a chair, a bowl of fruit and a violin; what else does a man need to be happy?” Albert Einstein
Copyright © 2013 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.