The Hemp Connection + women's health tips

Food of the week: Nopalitos (Don't Boo the Goo!)

It's back…food of the week! I was busy with mandatory paperwork much of this month and it consumed blogging time. I'm excited about a summer full of fun foods to try.

I ran across this while writing another article, and since PCOS is common in Hispanics I wanted to be sure to include it.

Nopalitos are cactus pads…as shown at the top of this post, in their natural environment.

But there's a lot to getting them ready to eat! You have to skin them, which takes out the stickers. And you have to cook them. I see cactus pads in the local Hispanic market, but for those of you who are not quite so adventurous, you can find them already cooked, in which case this is how they look.

What's so great about nopalitos? Well, they're chock full of the kind of fiber that helps bring your cholesterol down. You will notice when you take them out of the jar, they have a bit of a gooey consistency, kind of like okra. Don't"boo the goo"--that's the fiber!

In addition to fiber, nopalitos have a decent choline content. Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., R.D., a respected colleague, shared in a presentation last year that choline is not at all easy to find in the diet. And that can pose a problem since choline is the building block for acetylcholine, crucial for memory. So crucial, in fact, that many Alzheimer's medications are designed to increase acetylcholine levels.

Who would have thought that cactus could be brain food? They are also a decent source of vitamins A, C, K…and folate, that reproductively important vitamin that keeps showing up in our recommended foods on this blog.

So how the heck do you cook it? I'd recommend you Google"nopalitos recipes" for a lot of suggestions, but I'll share one here that makes it look pretty tasty, adapted from a recipe I found at Karen's Kitchen.

Nopalitos Salad


1 jar precooked nopalitos
3 lemons
1 T olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic
Cilantro (1 or more bunches, to taste)
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
Salt to taste


Empty nopalitos into a strainer. Fill a large bowl with water and juice of 2 lemons. Add about a teaspoonful of salt and then put the cactus into it, soak for about 30 minutes.

Remove the leaves from the water and chop it into 1/2" pieces.

In a skillet, heat the nopalitos with onion, garlic and salt until warm.

Remove from heat and drain. Add the rest of the ingredients, adding juice of last lemon, salt and olive oil for a dressing. Serve cold.

Buen apetito!

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Food of the week: Nopalitos (Don't Boo the Goo!) + women's health tips