The nopal cactus, native to Mexico, is commonly known in English as the prickly pear cactus (español: nopal y tuna). It is known for high antioxidant, vitamin, and mineral content. Nopales are the pads of the nopal cactus. Sauteed nopales can be added to many dishes, such as salads, quesadillas or scrambled eggs. The sweet and colorful prickly pears, called tunas in Spanish, are delicious just as they are. Just peel and eat. The prickly pear fruit contains the flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin, which are antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Tortillas, beans, rice, and chiles are staples in Mexican households and Mexican restaurants all over the world, but people south of the border enjoy many other foods you may not have heard about. Here are a few of them.
A deliciously sour-sweet watery and nutritious cactus fruit.
Smells like pineapple, tastes like strawberries and apple with a touch of citrus, with a creamy texture, like coconut or banana, and generous amounts of Vitamins B and C.
A delicious and nutritious edible “disease,” huitlacoche, the fungus known in English as corn smut, can bring a higher price than the corn on which it grows. Raw or roasted, it makes delicious tacos, quesadallas, enhiladas, and other delicacies.
Flor de Calabaza
The beautiful squash flower can be cooked or eaten raw, made into poppers, or used as an ingredient in vegetarian pozole.
Nopales y Tunas
It may look like something to avoid touching, but this is a desert feast. The tunas (cactus pears) taste as sweet as jam when they are ripe, and they can be found in an explosion of different bright colors. The leaves, known as nopales in the mercado, are a rich source of protein and fiber. They can be scraped, chopped, seasoned, sauteed, and enjoyed in a variety of dishes.
(Original article published by M. Lesh in Coffee Talk, September 1, 2019)
When I switched to plant-based living after a lifetime of meals planned around a main course of meat, I immediately felt positive effects and found it surprisingly easy, even fun, to change my habits and explore new ways of enjoying food. Fruit and Stuff is a collection of some of the many things I have learned since I started the journey.
Even if you are not ready to give up meat, you will benefit from adding more plant foods to your daily meals. I hope you’ll find something useful here.
The most recent articles appear first on the Home page, and the tabs at the top of every page are for locating any article, past or present. The Glossary links to facts about plant-based foods, the Recipe tab will direct you to the recipe index, and the Resources consist of news and opinions about plant-based living.