Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A Soothing Prickly Pear

Prickly pears
The fruit of the Nopal cactus has been used for generations by various indigenous peoples as a healing substance; they are grown in Mexico, and in many places in the United States, from the northwest all the way to New England and up into southern Canada. They are also grown in southern Europe and the Middle East. They are sometimes known as paddle cactus or cactus figs.

The Opuntia ficus-indica, also known as Indian fig or prickly pear, is one of the best known of the Nopal species. The prickly pear has culinary as well as medicinal uses, and was realtively easily avaialble in the United States by the 19th century. In 1889, Hester Martha Hunt recommended them in her Fruits and How to Use Them; she advised the reader to eat them sliced and dusted with powdered sugar. And Thomas Jefferson Murrey's 1884 book on Murrey's Salads and Sauces featured a Prickly-Pear Salad similar to Hunt's recipe - but with added lashings of orange juice and "a wineglassful of brandy."

Prickly pear for sale in Mexico
The Nopal cactus is frequently used in Mexican cuisine in everything from egg dishes to candy, jelly and beverages. In Mexico, too, they are traditionally used for medicinal purposes, especially as an anti-inflammatory. You can enjoy both the delicious taste and health benefits of the Nopal cactus in a wellness drink called Nopalea, available from Trivita, a company that's been concerned with people's physical, emotional and spiritual health since 2000. Opuntia cactus (and Nopalea, of course) contain all kinds of antioxidants that have been proven to help relieve inflammation in the joints and muscles. Nopalea can be drunk daily to help neutralize toxins in the body, reduce inflammation, and help the body in general as a tonic. If you or someone you know suffers from inflammatory problems in joints and muscles, or digestive problems, you might want to give Nopalea a try; you can try it for free ($9.95 shipping) by calling Trivita at 1-800-203-7063.

[Images from Wikimedia Commons.]

1 comment:

Joyce Lansky said...

Learning something new. Who knew the cactus bears fruit?