Saturday, February 18, 2017

Low Carb Cactus Salad #GardenCuizine #Nopales @EatRight #diabetes #prediabetes #preventdisease

Low Carb
Cactus (Nopales) Salad
with Cilantro-Lime dressing

Nopales (Nopalitos - chopped, cooked cactus pads) provides dietary fiber along with antioxidants and lots of other healthy nutrients. Prickly Pear Cactus has even been shown to lower blood glucose in people who are diabetic, which I find very interesting since I work with adults and kids with pre-diabetes and diabetes. 

We cooked cactus for the first time on Super Bowl Sunday for use in this simple Mexican salad. The salad tasted so good it didn't last long in our house. Leftover salad was enjoyed wrapped up in warm corn tortillas for lunch the next day.

Have you ever tried it? I wondered what cactus would taste like. After reading posts that cactus tasted similar to green beans, I wasn't sure I'd like it. I'm not a big green bean fan. I was pleasantly surprised how good it was. Nopalitos didn't really have a distinct flavor; the texture was tender-crisp, similar to asparagus. 

This recipe was inspired from a Tender Cactus Salad recipe posted online from McCormick. The recipe does not call for avocado, but some people I've spoken with tell me that they make their cactus salad with avocado in it. 

The Mexican market where we found Nopales was sold out of Mexican oregano, so I made it without oregano; it tasted good. I imagine it would be even better with the traditional herb. I didn't substitute Italian oregano because Mexican oregano is not the same. 

We've grown Italian oregano for years; now, I look forward to growing Mexican oregano

When you try Prickly Pear Cactus, let us know how you liked it and how you prepared it. Here is my recipe:
Serves 6
1 1/2 cups cooked Nopales (2 Prickly Pear Cactus pads)
3/4 cup diced fresh tomatoes
1 cup crumbled Queso Fresco* Mexican cheese
1/3 cup chopped onion
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
1/8 teaspoon (tsp) salt
pinch fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp Mexican Oregano

Putting it all together
Cook Nopales: refer to below link on how to prepare cactus for cooking: slice prepared cactus pads. Add to soup pot and fill with water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook 25 minutes. Drain, saving cactus (juice) liquid for other recipes.

Combine cooled cooked cactus and remaining ingredients. Let sit room temperature before serving for flavors to blend. Stir a few times before serving. Refrigerate leftovers.

* Queso Fresco is an unaged mild cheese that can be found in a Mexican market.  
Excellent Source: Vitamin C* 
Good Source: Protein and Calcium

GardenCuizine Prickly Pear Salad Nutrition Facts: this information is based on the only USDA Nutrient Data for Cactus Pears. *The green cactus paddles may not be as high in vitamin C as the pear buds.
1/6 of recipe (107 g): 84 calories, total fat 5g, saturated fat 3g, trans fat 0, cholesterol 11mg, Sodium 210mg (9% DV), total Carbohydrate 6g, dietary Fiber 2g (8% DV), sugar 1g, Protein 5g, Vitamin C ~12.9mg (~22% DV), Calcium 135mg (13% DV), Magnesium ~36.8mg (~9% DV)

Related Links
Preparing Nopales
Oregano: Mediterranean and Mexican
Photo and blog post Copyright(C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

@Eatingsoulfully Preparing Nopal Cactus for salad #GardenCuizine #MexicanCooking #Diabetic #Nopales

Preparing Nopales
Prickly Pear Cactus
Fresh Prickly Pear Cactus pads

I knew I wanted to cook nutritious Prickly Pear Cactus after reading Constance Brown-Riggs' article about it's health benefits in Today's Dietitian magazine. Our first recipe was a Cactus Salad. This popular Mexican dish tasted better than you may think! But, finding the cactus may be a little tricky.  

First, we went to our local ShopRite. They only had Cactus Pears, which is the fruit of the Prickly Pear Cactus. Then we tried Wegman's, another supermarket. One of their produce guys told us they have not carried Nopales since October. I asked him if it was a seasonal item; he said he didn't think so. I did a quick search for local Mexican markets on my iPhone... we took a short drive and found it at Mi Ranchito in Moorestown, NJ - success!

We lucked out, the moist, green paddles were already prepared and ready-to-go in plastic baggies with 4 paddles per baggie. The cactus was in the stores refrigerated section next to a batch of fresh cilantro. 

To prepare Prickly Pear Cactus pads, carefully trim the thorns off and slice off the nubs too. To do it, run your chefs knife along each side; then trim around the outer edge (see above photo).

Cactus can be cooked several ways. One way is to brush each side with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and grill. We cut ours into bite sized pieces and boiled it for use in Cactus Salad. The cooking liquid reminded me of Aloe Vera juice so I saved it to add to smoothies. Even Mom loves this high fiber nutritious food. 

GardenCuizine Cactus recipes coming soon....

Related Links
Dynamics of Diabetes: Prickly Pear Cactus 
Cactus Pears

Blog post and photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Quick and easy to prep Lentil Soup #GardenCuizine #nutritious #recipe

Lentil Soup
low sodium, high fiber 
low carb, low fat
Yields 3 quarts
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 celery sticks
3 carrots
1 medium onion
1 Tablespoon Bryani Paste*
2 teaspoons dried thyme
3 small tomatoes (or one small can diced tomatoes with liquid)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
10 cups water
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cup whole lentils, rinsed 

1 teaspoon mild hot sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Putting it all together
Wash and chop celery, carrots, onion and tomatoes. Set aside. Heat olive oil in a soup stock pot. Add chopped celery, carrots and onion; stir. Simmer the aromatics letting them cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for at least 10 minutes. Stir in the Bryani Paste and thyme. Stir in chopped tomatoes and garlic powder. Stir in water. Add lentils and bay leaves. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils are soft. 

When the soup is finished cooking: remove the bay leaves. Stir in cheese and hot sauce. Puree some, not all, of the soup. Serve or store in quart containers - label, refrigerate or freeze.
  • Serve with extra hot sauce and grated cheese (rather than salt) and a 1/2 sandwich, whole grain crackers or crusty bread
  • Experiment with soup variations adding: potatoes, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, Asofoetida, ginger, coriander or fresh garlic minced vs powder
*Bryani is a paste blend of curry, ginger and tasty spices. Ask for it at your supermarket.

Excellent Source: Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A and Folate
Good Source: Vitamin C and Thiamin
If you're counting carbohydrates: Only 9g net carbs

GardenCuizine Nutrition Data Homemade Lentil Soup: 1 cup (281g): 122 calories; total fat 4g; saturated fat 1g; trans fat 0; cholesterol 2mg (1% DV); Sodium 137mg (6% DV); total carbohydrate 16g; dietary Fiber 7g (29% DV); protein 6.5g; Vitamin A 2806 IU (~56% DV); Vitamin C 6mg (~10% DV); Thiamin 0.2mg (~13% DV); Folate 108mcg (27% DV) plus other nutrients...

Related Links
Cooking Up Legumes Guide  
Recipe and photo Copyright (C)Wind. All rights reserved.