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Preparations | by *April*
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Patrick and I made veggie burritos and guacamole for dinner tonight. They were *so* good.


Ingredients not pictured: jarred jalapenos (and juice), chipotle tabasco, a can of meijer's refried beans with lime, shredded colby jack cheese, spices for the guacamole and flour tortillas.


While most people are familliar with the majority of these ingredients, I wanted to include information about the nopale or nopalito - as I know a lot of people pass by them in the produce section and they're quite delectable. For those of us that don't eat meat (or not often - in my case) nopalitos impart a hearty meaty texture that is usually only a function of a soy derivative.


Here's information from wiki about nopales (often referred to as nopalitos when already processed and cut around here).


Nopales are a vegetable made from the young stem segments of prickly pear, carefully peeled to remove the spines. They are particularly common in their native Mexico. Farmed nopales are most often of the species Opuntia ficus-indica, although the pads of almost all Opuntia species are edible.


Nopales are generally sold fresh or canned, less often dried to prepare nopalitos. They have a light, slightly tart flavor, and a crisp, mucilaginous texture.


Nopales are commonly used in Mexican cuisine in dishes such as huevos con nopales (eggs with nopal), or "tacos de nopales". Nopales are also an important ingredient in New Mexican cuisine, and are gaining popularity elsewhere in the United States.


Health benefits


Nopales are very rich in insoluble and especially soluble dietary fiber. They are also rich in vitamins (especially vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K, but also riboflavin and vitamin B6) and minerals (especially magnesium, potassium, and manganese, but also iron and copper). Nopales have a high calcium content, but the nutrient is not biologically available because it is present as calcium oxalate, which is neither highly soluble nor easily absorbed through the intestinal wall.


Addition of nopales also reduces the glycemic effect of a mixed meal.


Economic value


According to Reuters, some 10,000 farmers cultivate nopal in Mexico, producing around $150 million worth of it each year. Detection of the cactus-eating moth Cactoblastis cactorum in Mexico in 2006 caused anxiety among the country's phytosanitary authorities, as this insect can be potentially devastating for the cactus industry.


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Taken on June 7, 2008