For us in arid West Africa, one of the fruits we can find more easily at some times of the year is papaya. This is good news, since papaya is an excellent source of vitamin A and C, and also a good source of folate, magnesium, potassium, copper and vitamin K.

However. Contrary to the universally loved mango, papayas tend to be less well-liked. I used to be one of the people that thought they were bland and just.... not good. My husband says they lack in acid and that makes them so tasteless. Whatever the case, with a few tricks our family has really learned to love papayas.

First of all, there is a huge difference in varieties. Try the big ones that are very dark orange or almost red. They can be delicious. But the real magic trick is lemon juice sprinkled over papaya chunks. It just adds the missing factor and turns papaya into a treat! Orange juice can be substituted though lemon or lime is best.

Here are a few more ways we enjoy papaya:

Tropical Smoothie

3 cups frozen papaya chunks
5 small frozen bananas
2 cups water
1 cup milk powder
Vanilla or coconut flavoring

Blend all in blender till smooth. Add sweetener if desired - most of the time this is plenty sweet without! Coconut flavoring really adds that special touch. Coconut milk would also be an option.

 

Yogurt Smoothie

5 cups frozen papaya chunks
4 cups yogurt
Sweetener to taste
Vanilla

Blend till smooth. This really deserves the name smoothie- it is so silky! The tartness of the yogurt makes up for lack of it in the papaya. Yum!

 

Also, if you haven't read the article about using papaya for a pumpkin substitute, be sure to go check it out here!

 

Any other ideas? How does your family eat papaya?

 Need a quick snack? I love to make protein balls - I love the way they taste, and I love that they're kind of good for me! I also love the extra fiber that this recipe has - I think I'll  make some for after Baby is born!

Chocolate Chia Fiber Balls

1/2 c. peanut butter (I like crunchy)

1/2 c. quick-cooking oats

1/4 c. honey

1/4 c. flaked coconut

2 Tbsp cocoa powder

2 Tbsp chia seeds

1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Roll into walnut-size balls, and roll balls in coconut or oats to coat. Refridgerate and enjoy!

Note: I actually never measure (except to check the measurements for this post!), I just pour in a scoop of this and a handful of that until it looks about right! There are all kinds of ways you can change this recipe, depending on what you like and what you have on hand.

A few ideas for endless variations:

Omit cocoa powder, coconut, and/or chia seeds

Add any combination of chocolate chips, raisins, chopped nuts, dried fruit as desired

Use maple syrup, corn syrup, or homemade sugar-syrup if you don't have access to honey

Use any kind of nut-butter instead of peanut butter

The best thing about protein balls is how many variations there are. Whatever you have on hand, just throw it together! A great idea from a friend of mine - if you have a fussy eater or a very young toddler, try rolling tiny pea-size balls. The smaller size goes down easier for little people, and are especially good if you have a child re-gaining weight after losing appetite with an illness.

Do you have a favorite protein ball recipe?