Farmers’ Market Finds: Nopal Cactus

Every Wednesday morning, we take time out of our day to wander the best thing about living by the beach – the Downtown Santa Monica Farmers’ Market.  Not only is it an excuse to get a healthy dose of Cali sunshine, but it’s also a chance to see firsthand what’s in season. We’re always blown away by the variety of fruits, vegetables and homemade fare, so we thought it would be fun to regularly share some of our more unusual purchases, along with health benefits and simple recipes to encourage you to venture beyond your berry and broccoli staples.

This week, it’s all about the nopal cactus. Considered a magical plant by desert dwellers, the nopal is the bright green fleshy paddle of the more commonly known prickly pear. Chock full of vitamins A, B and C and known for boosting brain and heart health, adding chopped raw nopales to your daily diet is a simple way to get more plant-based nutrition. They might look intimidating, but don’t be daunted by their appearance. Once you’ve peeled the skin, they’re really easy to work with, and guaranteed to put a smile on the face of even the hardest to please friends and family. Extra bonus: at one dollar a pound, they’re one of the cheapest things we add to our basket.
Perfect for those fast-approaching hot summer nights, here’s one of our favorite simple, healthy recipes. We’d love to hear about your cactus cooking experience, so let us know how it goes in the comments below!
Nopal Tacos
  • 1 lb cleaned and diced nopales, cooked and drained
  • Mix with chopped onion, tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro
  • Add a few drops of lime juice or orange juice
  • Serve on warm Food for Life® sprouted grain tortillas with chopped avocado
*Adapted from Rivenrock Garden’s Nopales Salad recipe.
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