Fresh Papaya Packs A Nutritional Punch

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - January 05, 2011
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The best cuisine not only satisfies our hunger but delights us, entertains us and even expands our minds.

The same can be said for the arts. That’s certainly the case for Honolulu Theatre for Youth’s upcoming production of Theory of Mind by Ken LaZebnik. In it, veteran HTY actor Junior Tesoro plays Bill, a 16-year-old with extraordinary abilities, an incredible memory and a charm that is sweetly endearing. He’s also autistic - and in love.

Theory of Mind explores the struggles and challenges of a young man who wants desperately to be in love and to love someone, but lacks the social skills to achieve a successful and rewarding relationship.

HTY’s performances will be followed by a short discussion to help shed further light on autism.

The play opens at Tenney Theatre Friday, Jan. 7, and continues Saturdays Jan. 8, 15 and 22. For tickets, call HTY at 839-9885 or visit online at

This column is dedicated to Tesoro, who plays Bill so convincingly.

Ripe papayas should be stored in the refrigerator and consumed within one or two days for maximum flavor and texture. The seeds are actually edible and have a peppery flavor. Papayas also are a good source of fiber, which has been shown to lower high cholesterol levels, and folic acid found in papayas is needed for the conversion of a substance called homocysteine into benign amino acids such as cysteine or methionine. If unconverted, homocysteine can directly damage blood vessel walls and, if levels get too high, is considered a significant risk factor for a heart attack.

Welcome the new year with a resolution to eat more salads and fruit. This recipe uses leftover turkey breast, but you may substitute chicken breast.


* 2 cups boneless, skinless turkey breast meat
* 1 large papaya, peeled and cut into cubes
* 2 firm kiwi fruit, peeled and cut into cubes
* 1 small can pineapple chunks in juice, drained, reserve juice
* 1 tablespoon sliced almonds, for garnish (optional)
* 1 8-ounce cup papaya yogurt
* 2 tablespoons reserved pineapple juice
* 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

In large bowl, fold in papaya with turkey; add kiwi and mix carefully. Add pineapple chunks and chill all ingredients for at least two hours.

For Dressing:

Mix yogurt with reserved juice and cinnamon until well combined. Chill for about an hour for flavors to meld. Carefully toss dressing with salad and serve chilled.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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