Sweet and Savory Quinoa and Papaya Salad

by Leanne Vogel (Healthful Pursuit) on August 3, 2011

Have you introduced any new foods into your life recently?

Maybe you’ve given fennel a try?

What about coconut flour?

Or, maybe you gave kale a run for it’s money green(y)? [haha worst joke ever. I swear I'm actually funny in real life]

While I was studying to become a Holistic Nutritionist, I took it upon myself to buy something new at the supermarket each week and try to cook with it.

Although there were many flops along the way, I was introduced to amazing ingredients like millet, medjool dates, and even avocado – if you can believe it!

I can honestly say it’s been awhile since I’ve tried a new ingredient, so when I saw this salad recipe made from blended papaya seeds, I knew I had to give it a try.

Did you know that papaya (seeds and all) contain papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins? It’s generally used in digestive enzymes along with bromelain, a similar enzyme found in pineapple.

But what I didn’t know was that you could eat the seeds, and that these little black gelatinous balls have some pretty amazing health benefits to boot!

  • Papaya seed extract may protect the kidneys from toxin-induced kidney failure.
  • The have some powerful antibacterial properties that may be effective against staph, e. coli, and salmonella infections.
  • May effectively eradicate intestinal parasites. I bet you could take these while on a candida diet, then donate the fresh papaya to a friend.
  • In Chinese medicine, it is believed that a teaspoon of papaya seeds will help detoxify the liver.


Sweet and Savory Quinoa and Papaya Salad

Vegan [option], Gluten free, Dairy free, Refined sugar free, Yeast free, Corn free

This salad is so light and summery, right down to the chopped kiwis. I love preparing these types of grain based salads and using them as a mix-in with my daily greens. Just combine 1 serving of salad with 2 cups of greens and you have one mean meal. No extra dressing needed!

Lightly adapted from: The Healthy Foodie

Yield: 6 servings



  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups filtered water


  • 1/2 papaya, peeled, seeded and diced [reserve the seeds]
  • 2 kiwis, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup raw pecans, chopped
  • 1 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped


  • 1/4 cup papaya seeds
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp gluten-free Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp raw unpasteurized honey or agave nectar (vegan option)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon rind
  • 1/4 tsp herbamare
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes


  1. Place quinoa and water in small saucepan and bring to boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and keep covered while you work away at the rest of your salad. You can cook quinoa ahead of time if you’d rather use it cold.
  2. While quinoa is cooking, prepare and mix all the ingredients of the salad in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a food processor or blender, purée all the dressing ingredients until smooth.
  4. Combine salad fixings with quinoa and pour dressing over top. Stir to combine.
  5. You can serve immediately or allow to chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours. Store the leftovers in an airtight container. Will keep in the fridge for 3 days.


In conclusion, this salad practically heals you for all that ails you.


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{ 30 comments… read them below or add one }

Arielle (Your Vegan Girlfriend)

Oooo I’ve never made anything using Papaya seeds (or even Papaya for that matter wholy jeez!). I’ve actually never even heard of a recipe using Papaya seed before! So this is clearly very exciting.

I don’t know why but I’ve never thought of pairing tropical fruit with a simple grain dish like quinoa before. Thanks for the inspiration! Can’t wait to add some different fruits to my repertoire.

xo Arielle


Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

Papaya in a salad…you are genius. It looks soooo good, Leanne!

And yes, papaya is sooo healing. When I am on yoga retreats, they always encourage lots of papaya eating and in the Caribbean they eat it not only b/c it’s plentiful but b/c it’s also medicinal.


Kathleen @ KatsHealthCorner

I am in love with your website! Absolutely gorgeous!!! :)


Andrea @ Vegvacious

Oh my! I’m always looking for fun new ways to make quinoa and this looks fantastic!



Leanne, this quinoa sounds amazing. I have been on a quinoa kick lately so I gotta try this :)



Never thought of making something savory with papaya! This sounds delicious.


Junia @ Mis Pensamientos

i’ve never tried eating the papaya seeds before. so interesting! i bet putting fresh chunks of papaya in there would also be delightful :).


Clarkie @ Beloved Green

I love any version of quinoa, love the papaya seeds in the dressing. Yum!



Would you believe I’ve never even eaten a papaya?? This looks too yummy to pass up! Plus all those benefits? I’m in.


alyssa - fashion fitness foodie

Quinoa is quickly moving up to new favorite food status.


Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

Sweet and savory grain bowls are a favorite of mine! Come to think of it, I have tried lots of new items lately – I prepared bulgur (total sweet and savory bowl too!), used fennel in a tofu scramble, and fell in love with coconut flour. Papaya is next on my list! :)


Sonia The Healthy Foodie

Wow, I can’t believe that I got to help you make a new food discovery! It’s usually the other way around… ;) Don’t you just love the peppery taste of those seeds? Who would’ve known, right?

Glad you liked ‘em, Leanne, and thanks for the credit.

One small tiny little detail, though… may I ask you to please link to me in your source (after “Lightly adapted from”) My name is there, but it’s not clickable :(



Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Oh my goodness, look at that. I forgot to link it! Thanks for catching that, Sonia. And thanks for the inspiration ;)


Jenny (Fit Girl Foodie)

i’ve never made anything like this before. I’ve only made my quinoa savory, it would be fun to make it with a sweet papaya taste :)


Lisa @ Healthful Sense

The BEST part of blogging has been meeting fabulous people like you and trying new and delicious foods!! Before blogging I never had coconut flour, cacao nibs, maca powder… the list goes on and on. It’s like a gold mine reading blogs … super excited with each new discovery :)


Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

That’s a great way of looking at it, too! I’ve tried different foods all different ways now that I’ve started blogging. I still have yet to try maca, maybe I’ll pick some up over the weekend.


The Elegant Eggplant

YUM!! i love quinoa, always looking for new ways to switch it up.



Oh, I have a papaya in my fridge, and I had no idea what to use it for- untill I saw this! Perfect timing ;)



The salad sounds delicious! I always feel so bad putting all those papaya seeds in the garbage! Now that I know they won ‘t kill me, I’ll definitely give them a try =P

I love trying new things that I find on my favorite blogs (yours especially). I am in LOVE with quinoa flakes since discovering them here. I have tried so many versions of those quinoa flake bakes in the past few weeks and they have all been fabulous (cherry and almond, prune and walnut, apricot, pistachio and cardamom, etc.).

Two other ingredients I recently introduced to my diet are matcha powder (I make a matcha citrus smoothie for breakfast, yum) and aleppo pepper, a mildly spiced dried pepper from Turkey.

Thanks again for being so inspiring!


Leanne (Healthful Pursuit)

Wow, the prune walnut quinoa flake bake sounds amazing! I’ll have to give that a try for tomorrows breakfast :)


Heather @ Get Healthy with Heather

I didn’t know you could eat papaya seeds either… Very cool! This not only sounds healthy and oh so good for you, it looks delicious too! Your photos are stunning like always :)



That’s so cool! I’ve never heard of eating papaya seeds before, but I always get a kick out of how round and black and slimy they are. This salad looks right up my alley!


Callie {Rawxy}

Wow, Leanne – this sounds/looks wonderful! I would have never thought to blend the seeds and add to a salad!



this salad looks great I love trying new things!


Katy @ notjustacarnivore

I’ve wanted to try cooking quinoa for quite sometime; this just might be the recipe to let me do it!


Pretty. Good. Food.

Yum! Sounds so fresh and light!


Katy @ notjustacarnivore

My plans for the day might have just changed to making this nut butter to take to the hotel with me for wedding prep week. I love so many of your recipes!



What a great idea! I love when you can use every bit of fruit/veggie.



i love your site- i feel healthier just reading it:-)
also papaya seeds can be dried and put in a pepper mill and then added to anything you like. i actually mix it with my peppercorns to give my pepper a hidden nutritional punch.
thanks for sharing all your knowledge!


Lisa B.

I’m SO glad I stumbled onto this blog. I love these recipes. I’m always looking out for really flavorful vegetarian/vegan and whole grain dishes. And I’m looking to incorporate more raw food dishes into my diet, as well, although I can’t go 100% raw and don’t really want to. Anyway, thanks for sharing all these wonderful recipes (and your humor) with us!


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