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From the Kitchens of Pancho Villa has been awarded the honor of "WINNER" in the "Cookbooks: International" category of the 2014 International Book Awards!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Health Benefits of Nopales

Health benefits of nopales (cactus paddles) or prickly pear cactus:

Beyond loving the flavor and versatility of this unique vegetable, they are also healthy for you. Don't let that deter you, man does not live by chocolate alone!

Nopales (no-paaa-lays) are easy to prepare from fresh and have a slight tart flavor. Many people compare the flavor to a green bean, but frankly I don't get that. I have never had a tart green bean that had not been pickled. Buy them fresh if you can or go for the canned version.

Below are two resources that you can check out to learn more about the health benefits of the nopal. (remember I am not a scientist, but am a good investigator).

An excerpt from

Eating the nopal or pad of the prickly pear cactus has the following health benefits:

The nopal contains pectin, a bio-chemical component that reduces cholesterol levels in the body.
Pectin is a useful chemical for diabetic patients, as it helps curb insulin cravings. So the prickly pear's high pectin content makes it nutritious for diabetics.

Nopal is a good source of vegetarian protein that aids with water retention in the body. It is also useful for vegetarians looking to supplement their protein levels.

Nopal is an excellent source of fiber and hence aids in digestion by regulating the body's bowel functioning. It also aids with water absorption.

These fleshy cactus pads are storehouses of nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, B6 and K. They also contain high levels of calcium and magnesium.

Just like the nopal, the pear or tuna also contains a lot of fiber in its flesh. So like other fibrous vegetables and fruits, better digestion and a satiated appetite makes both parts of the prickly pear, perfect diet aids in curbing hunger pangs.

Medical benefits of the prickly pear nopal include:
  • Treating constipation and acting as a natural laxative
  • Strengthening the immunity of the body
  • Reducing and preventing inflammation in muscles along the body, from those in the gastrointestinal tract to the muscles in the bladder
  • Reduces cholesterol levels in the body
  • Stabilizes glucose and insulin levels in the body
  • Acts as a source of anti-oxidants
  • Helps treat gastric ulcers
  • Can be applied topically to heal wounds, scrapes and insect bites
  • Helps in reducing the effects of drinking too much alcohol

More information at:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

History of Sweetened Condensed Milk

As you have probably noticed in many of the Mexican dessert recipes I have shared with you, the use of sweetened condensed milk is widely used. I used to think that only my mom used this sugary milk when she made her cherry cheesecake. This milk has been used for almost 150 years! I had no idea......did you? I was playing around with a couple of recipes given to me by a friend and wondered who decided to combine milk and sugar in a can and make it thick. I found some interesting information and I hope you do too!

History of Sweetened Condensed Milk.

As you can imagine, it had to be a member of the Borden family who developed this milk. In 1851 Mr Gail Borden, Jr. was returning via ship from a trip to England. He was distraught about the death of several children on the ship, apparently from poor milk obtained from the cows on board. He had less than one year of schooling but knew something had to be done to keep milk fresh for more than a few hours. After several failures, he learned of the vacuum pan, used by the Shakers, a religious group. This vacuum pan allowed them to condense fruit juice and using this method he was able to reduce or condense the milk without scorching it. In 1853, his process of condensing milk worked and he was able to produce a usable milk that needed no refrigeration.

Borden had requirements for the farmers who sold him the raw milk, known as the "Dairyman's Ten Commandments", which included washing the udders before milking, keeping barns swept clean, scalding and drying the milk strainers morning and night. By 1858, Mr. Borden's milk, sold as Eagle Brand, was known for it's purity, durability and economy. Sugar was added to extend the shelf life of the milk. It can be kept unopened almost indefinitely.

By the time the Civil War had commenced, over 200 dairy farmers were supplying raw milk to Borden. The U.S government supplied it's Union soldiers with this canned milk as a field ration. After the war, the soldiers told of this wonderful product and it became a household product.

So, as Paul Harvey would have said, 'now you know the rest of the story'.

Click below to read the Dairyman's Ten Commandments”

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