Readers and patients keep asking for more ideas to dress
up their favorite salads, dishes, and to use as marinades…
you asked, here are three of our test-kitchen favorites:
Papaya Salad Variations:
For this dish, you want ripe papayas, tender but not mushy.
The skin should be bright yellow with a few mottled spots,
and the fruit should be sweet-smelling and aromatic. The
papaya has small black seeds that look a little like capers
or caviar. These seeds have a little heat in them, and they
can be used for a garnish or to add a little zip to salad
If you have mangoes that are ripe, they are wonderful
here as well. If you would like to try something other than
hazelnuts, pecans, almonds, macadamias, pine nuts
or pistachios would all be really nice, but when our test
kitchen used walnuts we didn't like the flavor—don't know
Papaya Seed Dressing
- 2 Tbs. papaya seeds*
- 3 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice
- 3 Tbs. rice vinegar
- 1 Tbs. plus 2 teaspoons honey
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 2 small cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp. toasted ground cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Think sliced lime wedges for garnish
- 4 cups baby mâche, or endive, lamb's lettuce, butter lettuce Bibb lettuce or your choice of greens
- 2 or 3 avocados, peeled, pitted, and sliced in small cubes or thin slices
- 1 1/2 Tbs. toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped Freshly ground black pepper
Split the papayas in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds, and set aside 2 tablespoons of seeds
for the dressing, picking-out any membranes attached to the seeds. Peel the papayas and cut
crosswise into 1/4 inch-thick slices.
To make the dressing, combine all the dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
To serve, toss the greens with half the dressing. Add remainder on top of served plates.
Sprinkle the nuts and some freshly ground black pepper.
Cactus/Prickly Pear** – Lemon Vinaigrette
This recipe is great poured over avocado and papaya with
a bed of your favorite greens. It's also a great marinade for
other fruit and/or chicken. Makes about 1 cup
- 3 cactus pears
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. each: sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, and granulated sugar or Stevia to taste
- 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
This recipe is great poured over avocado and papaya with a bed of your favorite greens. It's also a great marinade for other fruit and/or chicken. Makes about 1 cup
- Place a fine mesh strainer in a slightly larger mixing bowl and set it aside.
- Peel and cut the cactus pears into quarters; add them to a blender and pulse until you have a smooth purée.
- Pour cactus pear purée into the strainer and, use the back of a large mixing spoon to help you drain all of the liquid into the bowl. (All of the tiny seeds will be held back in the strainer.) Get as much of the juice as possible—you need approximately 2/3 cup.
- Add lemon juice, vinegar and seasonings to the juice and mix. Then gradually whisk in the oil.
Please note that the vinaigrette prep time takes about 15 minutes.
* Papaya Seeds contain nutrients that have been reported
to help heal cirrhosis of the liver and improve kidney health,
preventing renal failure. Its anti-inflammatory properties
help treat arthritis and joint disease. In addition, they contain
an alkaloid called carpaine that kills intestinal worms and
** Cactus/Prickly Pear is the common name of the fruit that
grows on top of the leaves of Nopales cacti—botanical name
is Opuntia. Throughout North and South American there are
about 200 specifies of Nopales but not all varieties are edible.
The most common for eating and cooking is O. ficus-indica also
known as the Indian Fig Opuntia. Before eating a prickly pear,
it is very important to remove the skin and peel it off so all of
the spines are removed. If they aren't, the glochids can lodge
themselves in your lips, gums, and throat, which can be very
painful. After that, however, the fruit can be used for a variety
of things, either eaten raw or dry and made into various jellies
and jams, candies or alcoholic beverages like vodka. Reported
health benefits include, but are not limited to:
- Boost immune functions—a single serving of prickly pears contains more than 1/3 entire daily requirement of vitamin C;
- Strengthen bones and teeth—because of its high level of calcium;
- Aids digestion—because of significant level of dietary fiber, helping to eliminate constipation, bloating, and serious GI disorders such as colon cancer and gastric ulcers;
- Protects heart health—high levels of fiber help lower "bad" cholesterol, significant levels of potassium to help lower blood pressure by relaxing blood vessels and reducing cardio stress. Additionally, they contain betalains which have been connected directly to strengthening blood vessel endothelial walls;
- Cancer prevention—because of the high levels of flavonoids,
- polyphenols, and betalains, all of which act as antioxidant
- compounds and neutralize free radicals before they cause
- healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells;
- Antioxidant protection—antioxidants do more than prevent cancer, they also protect the skin, lower chances of premature aging, improve vision, prevent macular degeneration, and increase strength and functionality of your brain. Free radicals are partially responsible for the oxidation of neural cells that often lead to dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Polyphenolic compounds such as those in prickly pears have been linked to increase cognitive activity;
- Reduces inflammation—topically, prickly pears were mashed and applied to parts of the body that were inflamed. When consumed, it's been reported that some of the antioxidants and minerals have lowered overall inflammation, particularly in conditions like arthritis, fibromyalgia, gout, or muscle strain. It is also a great remedy when applied topically to eliminate the swelling of bug bites, a method that has historically been used for hundreds of years.
*** Jicama's health benefits are mainly derived from the
unique mixture of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other
organic compounds, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin
E, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium,
manganese, copper, iron, and a small amount of protein. The
following are specific health benefits reported:
- Digestive aid—an alkalizing food
- Boosts immune responses—helps prevent and/or shorten duration of colds and flu
- Aids in managing blood pressure
- Helps prevent cancer and heart diseases
- Improves brain and cognitive function and abilities
- High antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- Helps maintain circulatory health.
NOTE: ONLY the ROOT of the jicama plant is edible, the rest of the plant matter is toxic.