Texas Cactus Council
PO Box 423
Benavides. TX 78341
August 2019 Newsletter
CACTUS . Cacti are succulent perennials that are native to arid and semi-arid regions and are cultivated extensively, except where freezes regularly occur. The land area devoted to cactus cultivation in 2001 was about 1.8 million hectares (4.4 million acres), mostly for fodder, and over half of which was in northern Africa and northeastern Brazil. Cacti are also cultivated in over twenty countries for their fruits, which commercially fall into three categories: cactus pears, which are the fruits of the prickly pear Opuntia ficus-indica and certain other cacti with flat stems (cladodes), and represent over 90% of the cactus fruits sold; pitahayas, which are the fruits of vine cacti in the genera Hylocereus and Selenicereus ; and pitayas, which are the fruits of columnar cacti. Young cladodes are consumed as a vegetable (nopalitos) , particularly in Mexico. Nearly all cacti employ a photosynthetic pathway known as Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM), in which the stomates (shoot pores that allow CO 2 entry) open primarily at night, when temperatures are lower and water loss is lower than for the overwhelming majority of plants, whose stomates open during the daytime. The best known edible CAM plant is pineapple, which is cultivated on about half as much area as cacti. Because of their lower water loss, cacti and other CAM plants thrive in dry regions (and also require little or no irrigation when cultivated in other regions.
Although evidence for cacti in human diets goes back more than 8,000 years in present-day Mexico, worldwide consumption has developed only in the last few hundred years. Cacti were introduced into Europe in 1495 from the second trip of Christopher Columbus to the New World. Opuntia ficus-indica spread across the Mediterranean region in the sixteenth century, where it readily grew under the local semi-arid conditions. Also in the sixteenth century, Spaniards introduced Hylocereus undatus into the Philippines, whence it spread throughout southeast Asia. In the nineteenth century, it became established in Viet Nam and is now extensively cultivated in the Mekong Delta, where its tasty fruit with red peel and white pulp is called "dragon fruit." Also in the nineteenth century, the columnar Stenocereus queretaroensis was domesticated in Jalisco, Mexico. None of these species received much agronomic attention until the end of the twentieth century, and even then the money for research and development was meager. Both fruit crops and young cladodes used as vegetables require much hand labor. Although machines have been developed to remove the irritating small spines (termed "glochids") from cactus pears, many improvements in their cultivation await future research .
The Prickly Pear or Opuntia
A tangled mass of vibrant green, spiky paddles protruding from a stem and attractive red, orange or yellow bulbous fruit are two key characteristics of this cactus species. The prickly pear cactus is also called the paddle cactus and belongs to the Opuntia genus of cacti. They are also a distinct cactus species, due to their dual spike system, fixed spines and prickly glochids. The leaves or pads of cactus are called nopales and the fruit is called tuna or pear. On peeling the outer skin, the pear can be eaten raw or cooked to make jellies and sweets. The paddles are used in Mexican cuisine like a vegetable.
6 tender cactus pads diced and cooked 1 1/2 cup chopped tomato
2 serrano peppers finely chopped
1/2 cup of chopped onion 2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon oregano 1/3 cup of olive oil
1 avocado 1/2 cup crumble fresh cheese
Corn tortillas or tostadas to serve
VERY IMPORTANT TIP: Use kitchen tongs to hold the nopales or, better yet, wear gloves to protect your hands from the thorns. Once you are familiar working with cactus paddles then you can try to clean them without gloves. TO AVOID ALL THIS, USE SPINELESS CACTUS. I'VE BEEN SHARING MY SPINELESS CACTUS WITH EVERYONE WHO ASKS FOR IT. It's easy to grow. You'll have an easier time preparing your cactus recipes. This cactus requires very little care and grows very quickly.
We'll be meeting on Thursday, August, 8, 2018, at Dairy Queen in Freer, Texas, at 6:00 p.m. You may bring a door prize if you wish. Remind your friends.
J. T. Garcia
June 2019 Newsletter
Landscaping with cacti creates an interesting showcase that is low-maintenance. Most cactus plants survive harsh conditions and a broad range of temperatures. It is well-known that they grow through extreme hot temperatures, but most people do not realize that they survive short durations of freezing temperatures. One of the biggest benefits of creating a xeriscape is that the landscape conserves water.
Locate your cacti landscape in the full sun. Always check the tags on the purchased cactus plants because some can tolerate shade, which means that they can be planted in the shadow of taller cacti. Mix sand and small pebbles into the soil to create good drainage. Cactus plants survive wet conditions only if the soil does not hold the moisture next to the roots. Slopes are great to use for xeriscaping because they do not hold on to moisture, but the cacti can also be planted on hilled-up soil .
Draw the space on a piece of paper in pencil. Start by marking out the pathway through the landscape. Look through a book on cacti and sketch in a few plants with color pencil. Make a note of the average size of the plant and add this information to the plan. If one of the areas can be viewed from 360 degrees, place the tallest specimens in the center and the shorter ones closer to the path.
Cacti include many different types of plants. Succulents usually have small or no spines; the flattened leaves are designed to hold water. The classic cacti have modified leaves in the form of needles and a fat stem that stores water. Cactus plants to consider are barrel cactus, prickly pears, aloes and agaves. Do not forget larger varieties like the totem pole cactus, saguaro and chain-fruit cholla.
When planting a cactus, wear long sleeves, pants and leather gloves for protection. Spines will go through most material, so wrap the very prickly cactus plants in a large towel when handling them. Do not plant them deeper than the arrangement in the plant pot. Do not water very frequently after planting to prevent transplant shock. After four to six weeks, soak the ground thoroughly and let the soil dry out completely before applying more water. Once the cacti start putting on new growth, they do not need any more water except rainwater.
NOTE: Texas Cactus Council president Sylvia Anna Leal has announced that Texas Cactus Council member Natividad Vera (Tive) had some info on a trip she is working on for the council but she suggested it be taken some time when it isn't so hot. I'll keep YOU POSTED. STAY TUNED!!
Nopalitos Cactus Salad Recipe
6 diced tender cactus pads 1 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 3 cups)
1 cup chopped red radishes 1 cup finely chopped red onion 3 Tbsp lime juice 1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Blanch and rinse nopalitos : Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the nopalitos, return to a rolling boil and cook for 4 minute. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. Rinse with water for 1 minute. This will remove the slime.
Toss with remaining ingredients : Place rinsed and drained in a bowl with the chopped tomatoes, radishes, and onion. Toss with lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Fold in cilantro. Enjoy!
SPECIAL NOTE : The extracts from the pads of prickly pear cactus can be powerful regulators of glucose levels within the body. For patients with type 2 diabetes, it can cause a reduced spike in glucose levels, which makes the management of diabetes easier.
I've been asked for spineless cactus pads by people who are starting on their cactus garden. I do have them and will gladly pass them out to whoever requests them. Spineless cactus pads just need to be rinsed, and used in your favorite recipe. Since there are no spines at all, you can quickly complete the recipe and enjoy it.
Cactus is an American plant family not native to Europe, Africa or Australia . Very little is known about early cactus plants because only two cactus fossils have ever been found. The oldest, found in Utah , dates to 50 million years ago and was similar to today's prickly pear.
Cactus plants probably grew in a tropical environment until about 65 million years ago when, in much of California , the climate changed from year-round rainfall to a pattern of dry summers and wet winters. Later, when the desert began to form as the Sierra Nevada and Peninsular Ranges rose and blocked rainfall to the eastern valleys, the cactus adapted to the dry, desert conditions.
I would like to point out that the Texas Cactus Council has a website where you can find much information on our council and about cactus in general. You will find on the website activities, archives, awards, benefits, By-Laws, newsletters, Resolution by the Legislature naming prickly pear the official state plant of Texas , etc. Go to www.texascactuscouncil.net to get tons of information. (Newsletter archives are in the process of being updated.)
The Texas Cactus Council will meet on Thursday, June 13, 2019, at EL CHARRO RESTAURANT ( 1011 W. Front St. in Alice , Texas ) at 6:00. (361) 661-1409. They have a wonderful menu. Invite your friends to join us. You may bring a door prize if you wish.
J. T. Garcia
April 2019 Newsletter
Texas Cactus Council president Sylvia Leal started her presidency at the meeting in February. She's very excited about her plans for the meetings. She wants all the members involved in planning the activities for the meetings. Among suggestions were cactus grafting, designing cactus gardens, sharing of cactus recipes, and promoting using cactus as a very healthful activity. She has mentioned many of the recipes in the Texas Cactus Council cookbook.
Many ranchers have been using cactus to feed their cattle for many years. This year has been quite rainy and there has been no need for feeding cactus. Pastures have been very green and cattle have not had the need for cactus. Ranchers use pear burners for burning the spines off prickly pear cactus. This practice enables the livestock to eat the cactus without any problems. Ranchers are cautious when feeding cactus to their animals. They must also be fed other supplements. This is because cactus contains much fiber which will form into volleyball size balls of fiber. Here's where the supplements help. Ranchers also feed cattle cubes and or hay to the cattle. The supplements prevent the fiber balls from forming. Cattle who are fed only cactus and develop these balls will eventually die. So now we know. Feed cattle cactus, hay and cattle cubes. Cattlemen are delighted to have prickly pear in their pastures. During heavy droughts, ranchers are indeed happy to have cactus in their pastures for their livestock. A farmer recently indicated that cactus has been a “life saver” for many.
The use of prickly pear as an animal feed has been studied extensively by many researchers both in the U.S. and abroad. The nutrient content of prickly pear in varies according to various feeding forms, stages and ages of growth. In most reports, prickly pear fed “as is” is very high in moisture content (low in dry matter), energy, fiber and ash (mineral matter) but low in protein. This has been reported since the earliest published reports of its use.
One of the first documented reports of the use of prickly pear as livestock feed was published by Griffiths in 1905. He reviewed the use of prickly pear in dairy, beef cattle, swine, sheep and goat rations and found widespread use of per as a livestock feed in Texas at that time. He also reported that sometimes “pear balls” or balls of undigested fiber will develop as a result of feeding prickly pear alone and reported that feeding hay reduced the incidence of pear balls. The spines were also a problem as they needed to be singed off although cattle did apparently eat the green, unsinged pear readily. Most “pear cattle” he noted scoured heavily but not heavily enough to cause sickness and the scouring was reduced by adding sorghum hay to the diet ( Griffiths , 1906). Griffiths (1905) was so impressed with the usefulness of prickly pear that he stated “The destruction of pear in Southwestern Texas would be a severe calamity to the stock industry.
Spaghetti with cactus and mushrooms
2 packages of spaghetti
4 cups of water
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 tablespoon of butter
1 cup of diced cactus 1 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms
6 tablespoons of red wine
Salt and pepper
Cook the pasta for 15 minutes in water with salt and oil. Heat butter over low heat and sauté the cactus. After 5 minutes integrate mushrooms and red wine. Let cook until the wine evaporates and season .
Serve the spaghetti with cactus and mushrooms to taste.
Cactus Pear Fuchsia Lemonade Recipe
1/2 cup lemon juice sugar or Splenda to taste
1 cup water Ice
Cut the ends from the cactus pears and slit through the peels lengthwise. Pull back the peel and scoop out the fruit.
Put the prickly pear pulp, lemon juice, sugar and water in a blender and blend until smooth.
Strain through a colander over a bowl.
Pour the lemonade into ice-filled glasses. Garnish with mint and lemon slices.
3 Nopales (cactus pads) diced
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 arbol chile
2 tablespoons tomato
Boil diced cactus pads. Cook until soft, for approximately 20 minutes. Drain the nopales and rinse in cold water. Set aside. Heat the oil in a hot skillet, saute the onion, garlic, and arbol chile. Once the onion has softened, add the nopales …cook 5 minutes. Enjoy.
The Texas Cactus Council will meet for the monthly meeting on Thursday, April 11, 2019, in Freer, Texas at Old Skool Gym & Event Center , 5112 South Hwy 16, Freer Texas 78357 (the old Freer Furniture Co. Inc.) 6:00 pm. President Sylvia Leal asks that everyone bring a friend and a side dish or dessert hopefully made with cactus, or your choice.
Sylvia will be making an enchilada casserole and king ranch casserole, and will have iced tea. Members may bring their own drink if they choose to do so. You may bring a door prize if you wish. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible.
J. T. Garcia
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas
February 2019 Newsletter
We start this newsletter on a sad note. Longtime member of the Texas Cactus Council Josie Slonaker has passed away.
Josephine "Josie" Slonaker passed away on 28 December 2018 after a lengthy illness. She was born on 25 February 1935 in Corpus Christi , TX to James E. Wilburn and Mary Delgado.
She graduated from Corpus Christi High School and went on to work for the city as a records keeper.
In early 1963 she started working for the Army Aeronautical Depot Maintenance Center (ARADMAC) as a key punch operator. It was there she met the love of her life, Charles Slonaker. ARADMAC would later become the Corpus Christi Army Depot (CCAD) and Josie excelled in her field in the computer room and became shift supervisor before an accident ended her work career. She then focused her attention on her family, doing everything she could to make sure they were taken care of. Rest in Peace.
Sylvia Anna Leal
The Texas Cactus Council has a new president. Sylvia Anna Leal was elected by the council at their last meeting. Her parents, Ida and L.A. Perez, were long-time active members of the council. Mr. Perez passed away a few years ago. Mrs. Perez is still active in the council. All live in Freer, Texas . The Texas Cactus Council thanks the outgoing president, Emma Martinez, for her 6 years of service to the council. Thank you, Emma, for your leadership and guidance. Sylvia Anna served on the Board of the Boys and Girls Club of Alice, Texas . She is currently a member of the Duval County Appraisal Review Board. She also serves as Duval County Pct. 7 Democratic Chairman. Congratulations to Sylvia. She and her mother are co-owners of the OLD SKOOL GYM in Freer, Texas . They will be starting a boxing gym. She worked in Ben Bolt and Benavides as school bus driver, pool manager, volleyball and softball coach. She's also been a swim coach.
Cactus Facts for Kids
Check out our fun cactus facts for kids. It is never too early to start kids on the value of cactus.Learn how many species of cactus there are, areas where the cactus is native too, ideal growing areas for the cactus, what eatable fruit certain cactus can produce and much more.
Cacti are native to the Americas , ranging from Patagonia in South America through to areas of western Canada . One species, Rhipsalis baccifera, is the exception, it is also found in tropical Africa, Madagascar and Sri Lanka . It is thought that droppings from migratory birds dispersed the Rhipsalis seed in these other lands.
- The cactus generally lives in dry places prone to drought, such as deserts .
- There are 1,500 to 1,800 species of cacti. Each species for the most part fall into one of two core cacti categories, these being opuntias or cactoids .
- Cacti come in all shapes and sizes from round and short through to thin and tall. The smallest grow just a few centimeters high and about 1 cm (0.4 in) across. The tallest cactus can reach heights close to 20m (66ft) and up to 1 meter thick.
- The ancient Aztec's of South America often depicted cacti in many of their sculptures and drawings. While Mexico's national coat of arms shows an eagle , a snake , and a cactus.
- Cacti show many 'adaptations' to conserve water during long dry periods. An adaptation is a trait in a living organism that helps it to survive, populate and evolve.
- The cactus manages to collect its water using its quite large root system. Small thin roots grow near the surface of the soil and collect as much rainwater as quickly as possible during the few times it rains. Cacti can also have a single long thick root called a taproot which grows much deeper to reach underground water supplies when the top soil is dry .
- Cacti can gather and hold a lot of water in their stems. The water is not pure, clear water but is quite a thick viscous liquid. It is drinkable though and has been known to save many peoples lives in the desert.
- In the early 1800s when cacti were first taken back to Europe they were cultivated as ornamental plants. Rare species were often sold to collectors for very high prices. Today cacti continue to be grown as houseplants as they are pretty easy to grow and maintain.
- The nopal industry in Mexico was worth around US$150 million in a recent study and the fruit (tunas) is an important commercial crop in Mediterranean and North African countries.
The Texas Cactus Council will meet on Thursday, February 14, 2019, at 6:00 p.m. at D. C.'s Restaurant in Benavides , Texas , 202 Main St. , 361 256-3611. The Catholic Church is 2 blocks south. Thanks to those who have sent in their membership dues. You may send yours to the address shown on this newsletter. Active dues: $20 per year- Associate dues: $10 per year. Nos Vemos en D. C. ‘s. They have a great menu. You may bring a door prize if you wish.
J. T. Garcia
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas
December 2018 Newsletter
Significant Health Benefits of Cactus
Talking about cactus, you may imagine a kind of desert prickly plant which sometimes can be found in our room. Such quintessential desert plan may look intimidating, but in science you are suggested to make it as food. It is really reasonable because Cacti contain high vitamins and various nutrients that prove they are beneficial for our health.
Called a superstitious plant, cactus has been a vegetable mainstay for mealtime in some Latin American countries. However, its popularity becomes higher in the United States in which you can find it in many Mexican product stores, grocery stores and farmer's markets. It has numerous varieties since it is included in the genus Opuntia, owning more than 200 species. Cactus is avoided by people due to its bristles and spikes, but it is worthy in alleviating kinds of ailments from high levels of cholesterol to various kinds of cancer. Aside from those benefits, there are still more health benefits of cactus leaves that need to be exposed.
The reason why cactus leaves are high in benefits is due to its content. To make the health benefits of cactus leaves more detailed I will explain it one by one in these following paragraphs.
Decreasing Cholesterol Levels
Cactus leaves relates to a way to decrease cholesterol levels within your body with its pectin and fiber content. There have been many studies to examine how good cactus leaves benefits for health, especially in lowering cholesterol. Based on a research to 68 women in France, the researchers found the women experienced cholesterol decrease and triglyceride decrease within their body. Meanwhile, there was an increase in good cholesterol that is harmless for our body.
Our body elevates blood sugar every time so it needs to keep in the normal level. If the level is high it can lead to some diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Consuming cactus leaves can help you control the level of your blood sugar so it will be a good intake for whoever suffering diabetes or obesity. The pectin and fiber inside the leaves can reduce blood sugar by lessening sugar absorption within the stomach. For type 2 diabetic patients, cactus leaves can help them reduce spike within the glucose levels. This will make the diabetic management easier.
Combining cactus leaves consumption with exercise can improve the sensitivity of your insulin that means the proper response from cell to insulin. This conclusion is gained from a study of animal that is published in 2013. Another result performed that a group of people eating diets with which added 5 percent cactus leaves by weight while taking swimming program had successfully decreased their blood sugar and speeded up insulin levels instead of the other group ate high-fat food and didn't take workout.
Fighting against Cancer
Health benefits of cactus leaves are useful to help people from several serious diseases, notably cancer. Based on a study about the leaves there is a potential of cancer healing doe to its compounds. Cactus leaves are great sources of antioxidant that is crucial for cellular health and can cure dangerous cancer. It is extremely beneficial for improving the immune system when facing various cancers attack. The antioxidant compounds with flavonoids, phytochemicals, vitamin C and phenolic which are also good properties to fight against cancer. They work together by protecting your body from free radicals that is harmful and can lead to cancer and cardiovascular disease.
There have been dozens of laboratory tests about the health benefit of cactus. In 2009 the scientists do a research about the effectiveness of cactus leaves on the cells of liver, breast, prostate and colon cancer. The properties in cactus leaf prevent the cancer growth without giving any negative effect to the healthy cells. Cactus leaves are also known found to have strong anti-inflammatory properties that can prevent cell from damage and function as an anticancer.
Eating cactus is an effective way to help your body enhance the digestion process. Thanks to the high amounts of fiber, the digestive process becomes easier and the movement comes smooth. The leaves assist in decreasing cellulites and improving the ability to retain amounts of water within the body for speeding up the bowel movement. Hence, some bowl problems like constipation and diarrhea can be overcome due to the stimulus on the muscle along the bowl track. Moreover, excess fiber within the body actively functions to decrease cholesterol amount, thereby maintaining the health of your health as well.
The meeting for this month will be on Sunday, December 2, 2018, at the Civic Center in Benavides, Texas, at 2:00 p.m. Everyone is being asked to come in by 12:00 noon to help with the decorations. If you wish to participate in the gift exchange, a gift worth at least $10 must be brought in. Men bring a gift for a man---ladies will bring a gift for a lady. If you're bringing a guest, the guest can also take part in the gift exchange.
This will be the Christmas meeting. Everyone is donating for the Christmas Social. The Texas Cactus Council is donating tamales for the occasion. The following members are bringing the following items for the party: EMMA Martinez---Spanish rice, IDA Perez---beans, TIVI Vera---dessert, BELIA Blanton---cake, MARIA Dolores Perez---Regular and diet drinks, LUPITA Utley---paper goods, J. T. Garcia---dessert & ice. If you haven't volunteered a food item yet, just bring whatever you want. Suggested party items are salads, fruit, capirotada, empanadas, a favorite cactus casserole, peanut brittle, leche quemada, etc., etc. Do not forget to bring your dancing shoes. We will be dancing to the music of the Herrera Brothers.
May everyone have a fantastic Christmas! Blessings!
J. T. Garcia
October 2018, Newsletter
Aloe Vera Blood Sugar and Cholesterol Benefits
A study published in the October 2012 issue of the journal "Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders" found that supplementation with aloe vera inner leaf gel for eight weeks significantly reduced levels of blood sugar and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL "bad" cholesterol, in participants with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition distinguished by a cluster of risk factors that predispose an individual to developing heart disease and diabetes. Levels of hemoglobin A1c -- a test that measures average blood sugar levels for the last two to three months by determining the amount of glucose that has become attached to red blood cells -- also were significantly reduced.
Prickly Pear Blood Sugar Benefits
Mucilage, a complex carbohydrate, and fiber in prickly pear cactus help maintain healthy blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of glucose from the intestinal tract, according to the University of Texas at El Paso. Researchers of a study published in the June 2011 issue of the journal "Phytomedicine" found that prickly pear may keep blood sugar levels in check by preventing damage to the liver, which helps process fats and sugars. The laboratory animal study also observed that prickly pear helped maintain insulin sensitivity in cells throughout the body.
Cactus/Aloe Vera Smoothie to combat Diabetes recipe
2 or 3 tender cactus pads (diced)
3 aloe vera leaves
Wash cactus pads and aloe vera leaves. Cut out sharp sides of aloe vera leaves. Remove one side of aloe vera leaves. With a spoon scrape out the aloe vera gel. Place gel in a bowl and rinse with water. Place gel and diced cactus in blender, Add lemon juice. You may add Splenda sugar substitute if you wish (Note: Stevia is healthier). Drink smoothie. Will help reduce blood sugar levels.
Soda vs Juice
The consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, such as soda and juice, has increased significantly among kids over the past few decades, according to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital. This, in conjunction with decreased physical activity and limited access to healthy foods, has increased the incidence of childhood obesity and Type-2 diabetes. In general, most health experts see soda and juice as nothing more than sugar and calorie bombs with little nutritional benefit and many adverse effects.
Water and low-fat milk should comprise the majority of your child's beverage intake; however, many parents will attest to the challenge of getting their child to drink plain water. As a result, some experts suggest serving your child a glass of half water and half juice and gradually decreasing the amount of juice until only a minimal amount is needed to provide just enough flavor. The “Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine” study notes that soda, including diet varieties, 100 percent juice, sports drinks and energy drinks should be offered only as occasional treats .
Pollo con Nopales (Chicken and Cactus)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (or use any chicken parts you wish)
3 fresh tomatillos, husks removed
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded
6 tender, diced cactus pads, ½ diced medium onion, 3 cloves diced garlic, salt/pepper
Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook the chicken in the boiling water until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 165 degrees F (74 degrees C). Drain and set aside to cool. Once cool, shred the chicken into small strands.
Fill the pot again with water and bring to a boil. Cook the tomatillos, jalapeno peppers, onion and garlic in the boiling water until the vegetables are all tender, about 5 minutes. Drain. NOTE: Use less water if you do not want a soupy dish.
Blend the tomatillos and jalapeno peppers in a blender until smooth; pour into the pot with the shredded chicken and place over medium heat. Cut the nopales into small dice and add to the mixture. Allow the mixture to simmer until completely reheated, about 5 minutes. YOU WILL ENJOY THIS!!
Thanks to those members who have paid their dues. Send dues to address on top of newsletter. Active: $20 Associate: $10.
We welcome 2 new members into the council: Suzy and Derek Digilormo. BIENVENIDOS AL CONCILIO DE NOPALEROS!
The council will be meeting on Thursday, October 11, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. at El Sombrero Jalisiense (361 256-8050) in Benavides, Texas, 116 N. Guevara. They have a GREAT menu. Invite your friends and relatives. You may bring a door prize if you wish. (The restaurant is on the left as you enter Benavides on HiWay 359 from Hebbronville , TX . Los esperamos!
Mark on your calendar: Sunday, December 2, 2018
December Meeting, Benavides Civic Center ---1:00 p.m. Everyone's thinking about Christmas gifts, tamales, cake, pan de polvo, etc. More information in next newsletter.
August 2018 Newsletter
The Texas Cactus Council met in June, 2018, at Tina's Mexican Kitchen in Hebbronville , Texas . After an enjoyable meal, President Emma Martinez introduced the guests for the evening, Derek and Suzy Digilormo. It was a pleasant evening. TCC member Jose Leandro Martinez suggested that we should all make an effort to invite others to our meetings. All agreed that each one should invite 1 prospective member to the Council. ALL MEMBERS WILL INVITE AT LEAST ONE PERSON TO THE NEXT MEETING AND ENCOURAGE EACH ONE TO JOIN AS MEMBERS .
Nopal Cactus (Prickly Pear) Origins
Since the Pre-Columbian period, the native people of the Americas, Aztecs, Zacatecas, Tepehuanes, Chichimecs, and Coras have utilized the fruits and green stems of the Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) as food.
Archeological research using Carbon-14 dating techniques found human coprolites (preserved feces) containing the remains of Nopal cactus dating back as far as 65 B.C. Another source of information about Nopal's many uses by people in the ancient times can be found in the journals of the missionaries who worked in the region, in the Spanish conquistador's messages to their leaders and in the native documents which survived destruction during the cultural cleanse ordered by Mexico's Spanish archbishop.
The Aztecs used Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) for building materials, food, making glue, firewood, strengthening mortar, stiffening cloth and for religious rituals .
The tuna or the Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) fruit is boiled then combined with honey, which is known to help in curing respiratory tract infections. The fruit of the Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) is eaten to help with such conditions as arteriosclerosis, diarrhea, and a sore throat.
The Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) pads can be used as heating pads to reduce swelling, muscle pains, muscle aches and are also utilized for dressing wounds and/or cuts. The pads' gel or sap can be applied to bruises, burns, and cuts.
Pureed or ground young Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) is used as a laxative while a paste out of Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) is used to treat toothaches. The Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) sap is known to alleviate pain and to soften the skin.
Frustrated With What You See In The Mirror?
Studies show that being overweight plays a major role in health risks such as heart disease, respiratory problems, and hormonal imbalances.
Over 66% of Americans are overweight by at least 20 pounds. Obesity is at an all-time high as America becomes the fattest nation on the face of the earth.
Most of us could stand to lose a few pounds or at the very least start down the road to a healthier lifestyle. We have become a nation dependent on fast food and quick-fix pre-packaged foods to accommodate our busy lifestyles.
Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) may help to ramp-up your metabolism, turning you into a fat-burning machine. Combined with exercise and a proper diet plan you may be able to shed off those unwanted pounds.
The soluble fibers found in the Nopal cactus ( Prickly Pear ) are hemicellulose, pectins polysaccharides, mucilages and gums and are used to delay the intestine's glucose absorption. The Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) fibers, lignin, and pectin also decrease one's appetite or satiety which is a significant factor in controlling obesity (weight management).
If a patient is allergic or sensitive to psyllium (which is a well-known fiber supplement taken orally for the cleansing of the colon), Nopal cactus (Prickly Pear) is a fantastic and gentler alternative.
CACTUS MEXICAN STYLE
1 lb cactus pieces
1 small tomato 1 / 4 small white onion
1 jalapeno pepper
1 / 4 bunch cilantro
1 / 4 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
4 tablespoons corn oil
Steam the cactus until softened.
Drain the cactus.
Fry all the ingredients except for the Monterrey Cheese.
Combine fried ingredients with the cactus and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Top with cheese before serving.
One cup of raw nopales contains approximately:
14 calories 1 gram (g) of protein
less than 1 g of fat 3 g of carbohydrate
2 g of fiber 1 g of sugar
20 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A
8 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C
141 mg of calcium 4.6 mcg of vitamin K
The prickly pear fruit, which comes in a variety of colors, contains the flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin, which are antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties .
The Texas Cactus Council will meet in Freer, Texas, on Thursday, August 9, 2018, at 6 p.m. The meeting will be at Dairy Queen. Please don't forget to invite prospective members. You may bring a door prize if you wish.
J. T. Garcia
The ranch is now full of colorful prickly pears (tunas). The beautiful red and purple fruits are ready to be harvested by those interested in making jelly, syrup or any other prickly pear beverage or dessert. It is recommended that you be careful when getting tunas. They are all totally covered in spines. You can remove the spines with a small torch. Look for recipes for using the tunas online or find a recipe in our cookbook. Enjoy your recipe and share with your friends.
June 2018 Newsletter
Diabetes Breakthrough That Could Save Your Life
A new diabetes breakthrough that has already helped thousands of diabetics in United States and millions worldwide combat their diabetes.
Many angry and greedy insulin and diabetic pharmaceutical companies have requested government organizations in United States to ban the new groundbreaking online video that reveals how to naturally help combat diabetes from the comfort of your home.
They are afraid it will affect their bottom line and put them out of business.
Prickly pear cactus, also called nopal, is promoted for treating diabetes, high cholesterol, obesity, and hangovers. It is also touted for its antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
Some preliminary evidence shows that prickly pear cactus can decrease blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. Research also suggests that prickly pear cactus extract may lessen the unpleasant effects of a hangover. However, more research is needed to confirm these benefits.
It's too early to call prickly pear cactus a superfood, but it can be part of a healthy diet. Indeed, prickly pear cactus is popular in many areas of the world, particularly Latin America, because it's high in fiber, antioxidants and carotenoids.
The edible parts are the leaves, flowers, stems and fruit. Prickly pear cactus is eaten whole (boiled or grilled). It is also made into juice and jams.
Grilled Nopales Huaraches
1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
6 small cactus paddles (about 1 lb.), cleaned
1 cup refried black beans, warmed
1/4 cup chopped red onions
3/4 cup KRAFT Mexican Style Shredded Four Cheese with a TOUCH OF PHILADELPHIA
Heat grill to medium heat.
Blend first 3 ingredients in blender just until blended. (Some chunks can remain.)
Combine oil, oregano and cumin; brush onto cactus. Grill 8 min. or until tender, turning occasionally. Transfer to plate.
Spread cactus with beans; top each with 1 Tbsp. tomatillo mixture. Cover with onions and cheese. Serve with remaining tomatillo mixture.
NOTE: Texas Cactus Council recommends that you use spine- less cactus in all cactus recipes. This will make it easier for you and just as tasty.
2 tablespoons butter 1/4 cup onions
1/2 cup fresh diced cactus pads
3 eggs 1/4 cup salsa, plus more, if desired
1/2 cup Cheddar
In a saute pan heat the butter and saute the onions. Add the diced cactus pads and cook for 3 minutes.
Add eggs and mix together. Then add your favorite salsa and Cheddar.
Recipe courtesy of Esparza's Tex Mex Cafe, Portland, OR
The prickly pear has a long history of use in traditional medicine for shortness of breath, fatigue, stomach problems, liver disease and diabetes.
The Texas Cactus Council has been meeting every other month. The next meeting of the council is in Hebbronville, Texas, on Thursday, June 14, 2018, at 6:00 p.m. at TINA'S MEXICAN KITCHEN at 313 S. Smith Ave. Their phone number is (361) 231-7112. WWW.TinasMexicanKitchen.com . They have Traditional Mexican Cooking with a Hebbronville twist. Invite your friends to the meeting. You may bring a door prize if you wish.
J. T. Garcia
Thanks to all members who have sent their membership dues. Mil Gracias.
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas
April 2018 Newsletter
We had a great meeting in Baffin Bay, Texas, at Sea Wind RV Resort in February. Many Winter Texans spend time there away from their very cold homes up north. The pleasant winter weather at Baffin Bay is just right and we can find hundreds of folks from up north in Baffin Bay enjoying the beautiful green gardens and the fantastic fishing opportunities. Members of the Texas Cactus council brought delicious dishes, many containing nopalitos (tender cactus). Over 30 winter Texans were there and they enjoyed the feast. The members brought in desserts, main dishes, beverages, etc. Emma Martinez, Texas Cactus Council president, talked about the council and its activities. Questions posed by the members of the audience were answered. Everyone had a great time. We might be making additional presentations at Baffin Bay during the coming year.
Winter appears to be over. Prickly pear cactus at the ranch is covered with tender nopalitos awaiting to be harvested. We can already see many small tunas (cactus fruits) all over the cactus plants. Each tuna will also produce a beautiful yellow or orange bloom which will result in colorful pastures. We no longer have to feed cactus to the cattle since earlier rains have led to green pastures. All animals are nice and fat.
Those of us who have spineless cactus in our cactus gardens are very fortunate. These cactus plants are now full of tender nopalitos. I simply go to the cactus plants and break off these tender pads by hand and place them in a large Tupperware dish. The tender cactus pads are then rinsed in the sink, diced and blanched. They can then be placed in the freezer and used whenever you are ready to do so.
BATTERED FRIED CACTUS
Tender cactus pads sliced in strips cooking oil salt/ pepper your favorite batter
Set the frying pan with oil on medium. Dip the cactus strips in the batter. Cook strips in pan. Cook until golden brown. You'll have to cook plenty since most will come back for seconds. Enjoy.
MEXICAN CACTUS DISH
6-8 tender nopales (cacti), diced.
Cooked chicken pieces sliced. 2 avocadoes, chopped
1 1/2 cups brown rice 2 cups water
salt to taste a bit of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced handful of cilantro
1 lime's juice
For the green sauce:
8 medium tomatillos, husked 2 cups water
2 tablespoons cilantro, diced 1/2 cup onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced • Boil the cactus in a saucepan with a pinch of salt until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
Start boiling your rice, only add a pinch of salt at this time.
While the cactus boils, begin making green sauce.
Place all green sauce ingredients in a pot and began to heat. Be sure to remove the green husk around the tomatillos.
Bring to boil and simmer for about 10-15 minutes until the tomatillos are soft and tender.
While the sauce is simmering heat up chicken, add garlic and diced onion, with some salt to taste.
When they are done boiling, place in a blender and blend until smooth.
Place the salsa in the same saucepan and reheat until simmering and the sauce thickens a bit.
Drain the cactus.
Add the cactus and the beyond meat chicken into the green sauce saucepan
Let them simmer, covered, for about 5 minutes on a low heat.
When the rice is done boiling, fluff it while stirring in all the rest of the rice ingredients.
Do Nopales Have Nutrients?
Nopales is the Spanish word for the stem of the prickly pear cactus, a plant native to Mexico . Hispanic cooking commonly uses nopales, which are similar in taste to green beans, as a vegetable in soups or salads, as a tortilla filling or grilled and served as a side dish. Available raw, jarred or canned, nopales are low in calories and fat and are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidant compounds.
REMINDER: Please pay your dues if you haven't done so. The yearly dues are $10 for Associate membership----$20 for Active membership. Mail your dues to PO Box 423 , Benavides , TX 78341 . Send only checks—no cash. Payable to TCC.
The Next meeting of the Texas Cactus Council will be on Thursday, April 12, 2018, at El Charro Restaurant in Alice , Texas , starting at 6:00 p.m. Their phone: (361) 661-1409 . They have a great menu. You may invite your friends and relatives. You may bring a door prize if you wish. Hope to see all of you there. Some members have asked me for spineless cactus. I'll pass out some pads at the meeting for your garden. This is the best time to plant them.
J. T. Garcia
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas
February 2018 Newsletter
(The article below was submitted to us by Bill Prichard (longtime supporter of the Texas Cactus Council).
A cold front that delivered low temperatures to much of Mexico earlier this month also caused widespread damage to nopal, or prickly pear, crops in the south of Mexico City.
More than 70% of nopal production in Milpa Alta — the capital's southernmost and most rural borough — was lost due to single-digit temperatures and overnight freezes on December 9, 10 and 11. The bulk of the edible cactus pads that are sold in Mexico City are grown there.
“ A good season was on its way until we got the frost,” local producer Juan Alonso Peralta told the newspaper Milenio .
Peralta's nopal plants are spread over four hectares of land in Milpa Alta and during the harvest season he picks between 500 and 600 kilograms daily. Most of the yield is transported to the city's huge wholesale market, the Central de Abasto, and another local market.
However, this year most of his crop was lost, meaning that he will lose the majority of his income as well.
“ I had scheduled to harvest my crop of around 300 tons between December and January but now we only have 30 or 40 tons . . .” he lamented.
“ The nopales turn yellow, 90% of the nopal is water. When the temperatures drop. . . the nopal loses its consistency, and it's not possible to sell it . . .[because] it's not edible anymore.
“ It's the only source of income we have,” he explained.
Several other producers in the borough are in a similar situation. One is Joel Cruz, who along with his family cultivates four hectares of nopal in the San Pedro Atocpan area.
“ . . . the cold came, the nopales froze, they dried out and they're rotting . . .” he said.
Cruz also complained that he had lost his source of income but was grateful that personnel from the Mexico City Rural Development Secretariat (Sederec) had responded quickly to their predicament.
Between December 13 and 22, Sederec staff and company representatives carried out inspections to assess damage across almost 2,000 plots of land in the borough.
Growers are hopeful they will receiv insurance payouts via the city government to mitigate their losses but any compensation before the end of the year looks unlikely.
“ The insurance policies cover approximately 1,300 to 1,500 pesos [US $65 to $75] per hectare,” Sederec official Cecilia Cruz García said. [Note: 1 hectare = 2.471 acres]
However, she added that “we don't have the records yet because the engineers are only just determining the extent of the damage.
“ Sometimes it takes a little while because it's the end of the year.
Due to the hard freeze and cold weather, many ranchers are busy burning prickly pear cactus for their cattle. It is always wise to also feed the cattle hay and or cattle cubes in addition to the cactus. If only cactus is fed, cactus fiber balls the size of a volleyball will form in the cow's stomach and will eventually kill the animal. Supplemental feed will help the cattle avoid the formation of the fiber balls.
We're already seeing signs of winter weeds in the pastures because of the rains we've received. We even got some snow in South Texas in December. Things should get better for the cattle and the farmers soon.
Nopales/chopped Prickly Pear Pads
1 teaspoon vegetable oil 6 tender nopalitos sliced in strips
1 small tomato (diced) ½ onion (diced)
Place a frying pan on the stove at medium heat, add the oil and nopales. Saute until the nopales begin to let out liquid. Mix everything well until the liquid evaporates, about 15 minutes . Add the tomato and onion and continue stirring until the onion becomes transparent.
The meeting scheduled for Thursday, February 8, 2018, will be at Sea Wind RV Park at Baffin Bay. Meeting is from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m . It is right next to King's Inn Restaurant. We will be making a presentation for Winter Texans on activities of the Texas Cactus Council. We will have sample cactus dishes, different cactus pads, explanation of uses of cactus----as cattle feed and used in landscaping. We will be taking Cactus Council cookbooks for those wishing to purchase some.
All members are encouraged to prepare a dish (appetizer, dessert, beverage) to share with those in attendance. All members are encouraged to make their own plans for lunch. Eat before you arrive or eat after the meeting. Please call Emma Martinez, Texas Cactus Council president at (361) 442-3728. Tell her of your plans to participate. Ask her for details of the meeting. We hope to get a good attendance. We thank you for your willing to share with our Winter Texans. In Kingsville, TX, take Hiway 77 South--- past Ricardo, Texas. Turn left on CR 628. You then turn Right on CR 2270---cross bridge and you're there. Our thanks to members of the Texas Cactus Council for their participation in this presentation.
J. T. Garcia
WELCOME, WINTER TEXANS
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas
December, 2017, Newsletter
PDO urged for nopal as China seeks patent
Researchers urge protection for endemic plant, also known as prickly pear
Researchers at a university in the state of México are urging the federal government to grant designation of origin (PDO) status to the nopal cactus in the face of a threat from China to patent production of the plant.
The academics fear that if China is successful in patenting the nopal, also known as prickly pear, they could increase production and flood markets with the plant's edible paddles.
At an agricultural forum held at the Chapingo Autonomous University (UACh) in Texcoco, they argued that by guaranteeing PDO protection to the nopal — a national symbol that appears on the Mexican flag — a nascent Chinese ambition to dominate production would be stopped or at least slowed down.
The paddles are well known for their nutritional benefits, are used in a variety of typical Mexican dishes and have been eaten here for thousands of years. The plant's fruit, known as tuna, is also eaten, its juice is acclaimed for its medicinal properties and it can even be used as an energy source .
International demand for its high-fiber paddles has increased in recent times.
While China currently has about 3,000 hectares dedicated to nopal production and cannot compete with Mexico's massive output, UACh academic Pedro Ponce Javana said it was still urgent that Mexico acted to certify the native plant as uniquely Mexican.
If granted the designation, it would join 14 Mexican products that already enjoy PDO protection .
However, China's patent plan is not the only threat to Mexico's diverse range of cactus species.
Celebrating National Cactus Day on Tuesday, UACh academics and producers also said that all of Mexico's cacti need to be better protected and/or commercially exploited because producers from Asian countries are illegally extracting various types from the country.
More than 7,000 species have been taken by Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai producers over the past few decades, they said, including 500 tonnes of cacti that were sent to Japan from Colima in 1982 in what was described as a looting of “historical” proportions.
A worldwide cactus boom is currently taking place and cacti of the sempervivum genus (known as houseleeks or live forever cacti) are in particularly high demand. Smugglers invariably collude with Mexican traffickers who help them to locate, extract and transport the plants or in some cases, seeds.
Nopalitos Cactus Salad Recipe
10 – 14 tender fresh chopped nopalitos
1 lb cherry tomatoes, quartered (about 3 cups)
1 cup chopped red radishes
1 cup finely chopped red onion
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 Blanch and rinse nopalitos: Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the nopalitos, return to a rolling boil and cook for 1 minute. Strain through a fine mesh sieve. 2 Toss with remaining ingredients: Place rinsed and drained nopalitos in a bowl with the chopped tomatoes, radishes, and onion. Toss with lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Fold in cilantro. Colorful salad for the Holidays .
The December, 2017, meeting of the Texas Cactus council is set for Sunday, December 3, 2017, starting at 1:00 p.m. at the Benavides Civic Center (Benavides, Texas). A meal provided by the members is scheduled. As of now, the following food items will be brought by the indicated member. EMMA MARTINEZ: turkey, J.T. GARCIA: turkey, TEXAS CACTUS COUNCIL: tamales, IDA PEREZ: dressing, LUPITA UTLEY: paper goods (plates, cups, napkins, etc.), YOLANDA ZAPATA: cranberries, NATIVI- DAD VERA: fruit salad, MINNIE SALAZAR: pie, RAY ESPINOSA: drinks/ice, IRENE ZAPATA: banana bread. YOLANDA GUEVARA: enchilada casserole. We still need green bean casserole, bread rolls, desserts & salads, and VERY IMPORTANT: we need gravy . If you have not called Emma Martinez with your food donation please call her at 361 442-3728. If you wish to participate in the gift exchange, bring a gift worth $10. Men bring a man gift. Women bring a woman gift. Label the gift “man gift” or “woman gift”. Call Emma if you have any questions or comments. And bring your dancing shoes. Music will be provided by the HERRERA BROTHERS. Members are asked to arrive 1 hour early to help with the decorations. We will all stay for awhile after the meal to also help with the cleanup. You may invite family members and friends, who may also participate in the gift exchange and food donation.
J. T. Garcia
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas
October 2017 Newsletter
RANCHING - The word ranch is derived from Mexican-Spanish rancho , which denotes the home (headquarters) of the ranchero . In Texas, the word initially denoted an establishment engaged in livestock production using unimproved range pastures as the primary resource, with or without plowland crops. From the beginning, ranching often included raising cattle, sheep and goats, and horses. Cattle ranching has been a major Texas industry for nearly three centuries.
Many youngsters dream of being a cowboy or cowgirl. They turn broom handles into stick horses to ride the range and round up their stuffed animals instead of cattle.
2017 RANCHING HERITAGE DAY!
RANCHES! RANCHING FAMILIES! VAQUERO FAMILIES!
We are planning an exhibit in the First National Bank Community Room of Jim Hogg County ranches, ranching families, and vaquero families. We want your artifacts, pictures, stories, whatever reflects your ranching heritage! Set up will be Friday afternoon, October 13th. Tables will be provided. Each family or ranch will be space for their exhibit. Please bring your own table covering. Saddles are welcome if you have a saddle stand. We are not allowed to use picture hangers so bring your own easels. Some large pictures may be leaned against the wall. You may use items like family photos, cattle working pictures, written histories, artifacts such as boots, hats, tack, statues, lamps, diaries, and any artifacts that reflect your ranching history.
The Texas Cactus Council has been invited to participate in the Jim Hogg County Vaquero Festival in Hebbronville, Texas, on Saturday, October 14, 2017. Displays will be located all around the Jim Hogg Courthouse in Hebbronville. We are being asked to bring any items regarding ranching heritage. Some Cactus Council members have indicated that they will bring cactus dishes, cactus related pictures, or ranching items such as saddles, spurs, lassos, pictures, paintings about ranching and vaqueros. All members are encouraged to bring something to the festival. TCC members planning to cook something, bring your receipts and you will be reimbursed (no more than $25). Other suggested food items which you can bring: empanadas, homemade chorizo, tamales, menudo, pan de campo, carne guizada with nopalitos, cactus tuna jelly or pancake syrup, etc. etc. The event will run from 10:00 am until 4:00 p.m.
We had a long, dry, hot summer. The pastures were dry and the cattle were hungry. The cactus pear burners were brought out to burn cactus as cattle feed. The cattle enjoyed the cactus and hay. But we finally did get some rain and we quickly saw the grass grow fast. The cactus tunas (prickly pears) are now colorful and ready to be used in the many recipes we all have. Our Texas Cactus Council Cookbook contains recipes for the tunas as well as for the nopalitos. Many of our members have become very inventive and developed quite delicious recipes. I will be taking some spineless cactus pads to pass out to those wishing to start their cactus gardens. Cookbooks will also be taken to the Jim Hogg County Vaquero Festival for those wishing to purchase one.
Would you like to lose weight? Follow the RECIPE below.
NOPAL SHAKE against overweight
Drink a half liter of this juice a day, a glass at noon and one in the afternoon after eating. You must drink two liters of pure water a day to remove fats and toxins. Do not eat anything fried, salty or sugar and refined or processed foods throughout the day. Drink this juice daily until you see results.
Please call Texas Cactus Council president Emma Martinez if you have any question. Her number is (361) 442-3728. Or call me at (361) 207-0966. We hope you make an effort to be here.
The December Christmas meeting is set for Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017, at the Benavides Civic Center. More info later.
J. T. Garcia
Peruvianus f. montrose
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas
August 2017 Newsletter
We start this newsletter on a sad note. We've lost a long-time member of the Texas Cactus Council. Luz Abel "L.A." Perez, 81, peacefully entered into eternal rest on Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at his residence surrounded by his loving family. He was born in Alice, Texas, on March 25, 1936, to his parents, Louis and Elena Gonzalez Perez. He was a 1956 graduate of William Adams High School. He served his country as a US Army Veteran (click for obit) in the Korean War. He married his high school sweetheart, Ida, upon returning from the service on August 4, 1961, at Santa Rosa De Lima Catholic Church. He was a life member of the Alice VFW Post # 8621. He was an active member of St. Mary's Catholic Church and chartered the Council #7167 of the Knights of Columbus in Freer, Texas. He retired after 31 years of employment with Southwestern Bell Co. (AT&T Telephone Co.) and after retiring he joined his wife full time at Freer Furniture Inc. He was a Freer Jaycee in Freer, Texas, and was involved in several civic organizations. He enjoyed traveling the world and spending time with his family and friends. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather, and brother who will be sadly missed by all. He was buried in Freer, Texas.
He is survived by his wife, Ida, three sons, two daughters, 14 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren. May Abel rest in peace.
Trip to Blanco, Texas a Success
The trip to the Lavender Festival in Blanco, Texas, was enjoyed by those who were fortunate to go. The trip was on June 10, 2017. Thanks for joining us.
Beautiful Lavender Field
Nopales (Cactus) nutrition facts
Nopales are thick, oval, flat, modified stems of the cactus plant eaten as a vegetable. It's soft pads, known as nopalitos , are one of the chief components of Mexican cuisine since olden times and today, gaining popularity among the Europeans and US for their health benefiting profile.
The cactus species is thought to have originated in the desert lands of Mexico. Over two hundred Cactaceae cultivars grow in their natural habitat, particularly in the semi-arid and dry areas of northern Mexico. Edible cactus paddles, however, gathered from the Opuntia ficus-indica (Barbary fig) plants are now grown by cactus lovers in their backyards and can be found in many grocery stores.
Cactus is a modified evergreen plant that grows well in semi-arid and desert climates. Cactus leaves are actually flat, oval, and pad shape stems but misinterpreted as leaves. On the cactus plant, its segmented stems stack one over the other in odd angles arising directly from the root. The completely grown up plant may reach up to 10-12 feet in height; however, in the cultivated farms, their growth is truncated to about 4-5 feet. The nopal pad surface indeed is covered with sharp spines (glochids) at the nodes.
Attractive blooms begin to appear during the spring all along the sides of pads, which subsequently develop into pear shaped delicious "cactus fruits." The fruit, commonly known as prickly pear, is actually famous in the whole Latin world as "tuna." Each fruit measures about 5 cm in diameter and weigh about 75-100 g. Sweet and juicy; their taste is somewhat reminiscence of watermelon and strawberry combination.
Health benefits of nopales
Nopales are one of the very low-calorie vegetables. 100 g of fresh leaves carry just 16 calories. Nonetheless, its modified leaves (paddles) have many vital phytochemicals, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that can immensely benefit health.
The succulent paddles are rich sources of dietary fiber, especially non-carbohydrate polysaccharides, such as pectin, mucilage, and hemicellulose . Together, these substances help bring a reduction in body weight, LDL-cholesterol, and blood sugar levels. This fiber and mucilaginous content in cactus aid in smooth passage of digested food through the gut and help relieve constipation problems.
Also, the juice extracted from the nopal has been suggested to have an immune booster and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cactus pads feature moderate amounts of vitamin A with 100 g fresh pads carrying about 457 IU of vitamin-A and 250 µg of ß-carotene. ß-carotene converted into vitamin-A inside the human body. Studies found that vitamin-A and flavonoid compounds in vegetables help protect from skin, lung, and oral cavity cancers.
Further, nopal pads contain small levels of the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid. These vitamins are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions inside the human body.
Fresh pads contain average levels of vitamin-C. 100 g provides 9.3 mg or 15% of this vitamin. Vitamin-C is a water-soluble, natural antioxidant, which helps the body protect from scurvy and offer resistance against infectious agents (boost immunity) and help scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
They contain small amounts of minerals, especially calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron.
NOTE : Removing of spines from cactus pads can be very difficult and troublesome. This can be avoided by using spineless cactus. I have passed out hundreds of spineless pads to many cactus enthusiasts through the years. However, the very hard freeze suffered in early January, 2017, nearly wiped me out. Very few of the spineless cacti have sprouted back. It'll be awhile before I get the spineless cactus back in full-swing in the garden.
Preparing cactus pads for a recipe
The Texas Cactus Council will meet on August 10, 2017, at Jerry's Diner in San Diego, Texas, at 6:00 p.m. Invite your friends, your neighbors. You may bring a door prize if you wish.
J. T. Garcia
June 2017 Newsletter
The pastures are nice and green after all the rains we've been getting. Prickly pear cactus fruit is everywhere and will soon add wonderful color to the landscape. Bob White quail are plentiful as are the wild turkeys. It's mating season for the turkeys and we should soon see mother hens with large flocks of baby turkeys. The hunters leave their deer feeders running year round and this attracts the gobblers who readily come to enjoy the corn. They are joined by the quail, mourning doves, white-winged doves and white fronted doves. And of course, wild hogs are there. They have increased in numbers and are actually a problem for most farmers and ranchers. Studies are being made to come up with a solution to control the beasts who ruin whole fields of grain, corn, etc. Fields are also damaged by all the diggings of the hogs. As of now, no solution for the hog problem has been found.
Cactus Mexican Style
10 tender diced cactus
1 small diced tomato
small white diced onion
1 diced jalapeno pepper
cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
4 tablespoons corn oil
Steam the cactus until softened.
Drain the cactus.
Fry all the ingredients except for the Monterrey Cheese. Combine fried ingredients with the cactus and allow to simmer for 15 minutes.
Top with cheese before serving.
Nopalitos con Papas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 potatoes, peeled and cut into strips
10 tender nopalitos (diced and boiled for 12 minutes)
1 onion, diced
1 small tomato, diced
1 minced jalapeno pepper (optional)
salt to taste
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the potatoes, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally until they begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Stir in the nopalitos, onion, tomato, and jalapeno. Season to taste with salt, and continue cooking and stirring until the onion has softened and turned translucent, and the potatoes are tender, about 10 minutes more.
The Texas Cactus Council will not be meeting on the month of June. They will instead go on a field trip to the Lavender Festival in Blanco, Texas, on June 10, 2017.
The entire town of Blanco and the surrounding countryside will be bathed in lavender during the Lavender Festival. The Lavender Market, on the grounds of the historic Blanco County Courthouse, is always a must-see highlight of the festival. Selected vendors and artists from across the Hill Country will offer lavender-related pleasures and treasures from the finest craftsmen.
A leisurely drive through the breathtaking Texas Hill Country has always been a favorite activity for out-of-town guests. Our lavender fields are enhancing this natural beauty.
Each lavender farm experience will be as varied as its farmers. Farms will offer items for sale, ranging from their favorite lavender plants, to lavender products, to Hill Country crafts. Many of the farms offer special entertainment; and some provide activities and events for the whole family.
If you are interested in lavender's mystical culinary properties, its various craft uses, aromatherapy benefits, or its suitability as a landscape plant, you will find a session designed to answer your questions.
During Lavender Weekend, Lavender Festival Fever will be in full swing, with the whole town participating in the celebration. Merchants will offer lavender merchandise and restaurants will serve lavender-flavored dishes. Who couldn't love lavender in one of its many forms?
The Texas Cactus Council president mailed information about this field trip to the members of the council. For more information, search for Lavender Festival online. Bring your camera, sunscreen, sunglasses and caps. It promises to be a wonderful day.
The next regular meeting of the council is set for August.
J. T. Garcia
Thanks to all who have sent in their membership dues.
April 2017 Newsletter
Thanks to Bill Pritchard for submitting the article below.
Methane plant is the first to use Nopal
Mexico News Daily | Tuesday, March 21, 2017
A staple of Mexican landscapes and countless dishes, nopal — also known as prickly pear cactus — is now powering a tortilla plant and two vehicles in Michoacán.
It was 10 years ago that Rogelio Sosa López, a farmer and tortilla producer in Zitácuaro, Michoacán, and an associate, Antonio Rodríguez, began investigating cheaper sources of fuel and power generation, which represented Sosa's biggest costs.
Using old equipment and a trial-and-error approach they began producing methane with nopal, reducing energy costs by between 40% and 50%, said Rodríguez, a former Pemex employee.
Now they have a two-hectare nopal plantation and a processing plant where a special machine liquefies the nopal. The resulting pulp is mixed in large tanks with water at 38 degrees C, “the right temperature for nopal to break down and release methane.”
Further treatment with sulphuric acid extracts carbon dioxide, giving the plant a 96% concentration of methane at a production rate of eight tonnes a day.
The complete process is sustainable, said Rodríguez, because it produces only water and nopal waste that is used to irrigate the plantation, and a fiber that can be used directly as fertilizer or added to compost.
Sosa's and Rodríguez' project, now a firm called Nopalimex, is the first in the world to produce biogas from the cactus.
Another inadvertent result of their investigation was that the methane could also be used to power motor vehicles.
Two have been running on nopal methane for two years at a cost of 10 pesos per liter. Come next year, the farmers turned fuel innovators plan to be ready to supply the fuel needs of vehicles owned by the Zitácuaro municipality, such as police patrol cars and ambulances.
In order to run on methane, the vehicles have to be modified with a small container tank, a vaporizer and a nitrogen container. In all, the ZItácuaro municipality will save 30% of its fuel costs during the first two years, said the mayor.
Sosa said the state government has also shown interest in further developing their project and investing in it, as has a Spanish firm that has even suggested international clients for the nopal methane.
We are beginning to recover from the big freeze in January. While we did lose some cactus plants, new sprouts are now growing. In fact I've been harvesting nopalitos non-stop for the past few weeks. And it's quite easy since what I have is the spineless cactus variety, which is so easy to process and use in so many recipes. I'm sure I'll be able to once again give out spineless cactus pads to those of you who have expressed an interest in growing nopalitos.
Nopalitos Con Huevos Breakfast Tacos
Cook nopalitos in boiling water 10 minutes. Drain.
Combine eggs and next 4 ingredients stir well with a whisk.
Heat butter and oil in skillet over medium heat.
Add the onion and garlic and saute 3 minutes or until tender.
Stir in the tomato and nopalitos, and cook 1 minute.
Wrap tortillas in foil and place in 325 degree oven for about 5 minutes. (or heat them on a grill).
Spoon egg mixture onto each tortilla.
Sprinkle evenly with minced cilantro, and fold in half.
Southwestern Cactus Salad
8 tender cactus pads, diced and boiled 12-15 minutes
2 cups chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onion
5 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (optional)
In a medium size mixing bowl, combine cactus, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and cilantro. Squeeze the juice from both lemons over the mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Sprinkle with garlic salt (if you'd like) and serve.
I will make an effort to take some spineless cactus pads to the next meeting to pass out to those members who have shown an interest in starting their cactus garden. We will be meeting on Thursday, April 13, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. at El Dorado Restaurant in Kingsville, Texas , 704 N. 14 th Street 78363. Bring a door prize if you wish.
THANKS TO THOSE WHO'VE PAID THEIR DUES.
__J. T. Garcia
February 2017 Newsletter
Plaque-busting plants take on Alzheimer's and Parkinson's
by Michael Franco
January 9th, 2017
(Thanks to Bill Pritchard for sending me this article.)
The fight against the debilitating effects of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases may have just gotten a new weapon from both a land-based and sea-based plant in the Mediterranean basin. Researchers at the University of Malta (UM) have found that an extract from the prickly pear cactus and brown seaweed known as peacock's tail – which both grow in the region – might help disrupt a key process in which both diseases take hold.
Sticky proteins known as beta-amyloid plaques have previously been shown to play a role in Alzheimer's disease in the brain by interrupting the nervous system, so finding something that can blast them from the body, or keep them from forming in the first place, would be a boon to fighting the disease.
To test out the effectiveness of the extracts in doing just that, the researchers gave a yeast colony a healthy dose of beta-amyloid clumps and then treated the colony with the prickly pear and seaweed extracts, which dramatically improved the health of the yeast.
Next, the researchers moved on to fruit flies that were genetically altered to develop Alzheimer's symptoms. Sure enough, the extracts worked once again. When given the seaweed extract, the median lifespan of the flies was extended by two days. When the prickly pear extract was used, the life extension doubled to four days. "Considering that one day in the life of a fruit fly is equivalent to around one year in humans, the results are dramatic," says a UM report on the study. "Interestingly, the mobility of sick flies was improved by about 18 percent after treatment, highlighting a significant improvement."
Next, the researchers figured out that in flies whose brains were stacked with alpha-synuclein, a sticky protein that plays a role in Parkinson's disease, treatment with the natural substances again prolonged their lives. They concluded that the extracts limit the buildup of the sticky proteins into large clumps that can harm the nervous system, thereby helping to keep both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's at bay.
Clinical trials will follow but, as lead study author Ruben J. Cauchi points out, the compounds are already available for use by consumers.
We believe that the discovery of bioactive agents that target pathways that are hit by multiple neurodegenerative conditions is the most viable approach in our current fight against brain disorders," he said. "A clear advantage of the drugs used in this study is that, in view of their excellent safety profile, they are already on the market as nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals."
The study Cauchi co-authored appears in the journal Neuroscience Letters.
Source: University of Malta via ScienceDaily
In the January, 2017, Newsletter I announced that we were so lucky that a hard freeze hadn’t hit our area, which was unusual for us. Well, short-ly after I sent out the newsletter, we were hit by a very hard freeze. Many orange trees in town were apparently totally destroyed, many still with oranges. I suffered tremendous loss with my spineless cactus (which is usually not killed in the winter). And of course my bananas trees were wiped out as they are every year. Luckily they will sprout and grow during the Spring and Summer. Rose bushes in town were not bothered by the cold weather. My Chaya tree was destroyed as was my beautiful Angel’s Trumpet. I’m not sure if they’ll sprout this Spring.
And the pear burner has been connected and we’ve been burning cactus for the cattle. Cactus and hay are being fed. I’ll be getting the cattle some mineral. A few cows have dropped calves. Somehow the cold weather does not seem to bother them. Cows are smart mothers and know how to protect their babies in the heavy brush and creeks.
Pollo con Nopales (Chicken and Cactus)
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
3 fresh tomatillos, husks removed
3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded
1 (16 ounce) jar canned nopales (cactus), drained
Fill a pot with water and bring to a boil. Cook the chicken breasts in the boiling water until no longer pink in the center and the juices run clear, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside to cool. Once cool, shred the chicken into small strands.
Fill the pot again with water and bring to a boil. Cook the tomatillos, jalapeno peppers, and nopales in the boiling water until the vegetables are all tender, about 5 minutes. Drain.
Blend the tomatillos and jalapeno peppers in a blender until smooth; pour into the pot with the shredded chicken and place over medium heat. Cut the nopales into small dice and add to the mixture. Allow the mixture to simmer until completely reheated, about 5 minutes.
1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic
1 arbol chile
2 tablespoons diced tomatoes
Nearly fill a large pot with water, leaving 3 or 4 centimeters at the top. When it comes to a boil, add the salt, baking soda, and nopales. Cook until soft, for approximately 20 minutes.
Drain the nopales and rinse in cold water. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a hot skillet, saute the onion, garlic, tomatoes, and arbol chile. Once the onion has softened, add the nopales and cook for 1 or 2 minutes. Serve with baked beans, Spanish rice and cheese.
The Texas Cactus Council decided at the last meeting to meet every other month. The meeting for February, 2017, will be at Jerry’s Diner in San Diego, Texas, at 6:00 p.m. on February 9th. You may bring a door prize if you wish. The president announced that we will have a program at each meeting.
J. T. Garcia
Beautiful Cactus Blooms
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas
January 2017 Newsletter
Hope everyone had a great Christmas and that the New Year brings you much success, joy and good health. There is one amazing thing that I have observed and that is that we are already in the new year and we have not had a frost yet. My banana trees are still full of green leaves. This is a tree that is easily killed by cold weather. We usually get a freeze by late November or early December. The buffelgrass at the ranch is very green and lush. The cattle are really happy and are eating heartily. I cannot remember this ever happening. Now this is in my part of South Texas (between Corpus Christi and Laredo). Some parts of the state have been hit by cold freezing weather. How long will this good luck last? Don't know. Hopefully it will last for a while.
The prickly pear cactus is also in very good shape. Should the need arise for feeding it to cattle, we'll burn off the spines and let the cattle enjoy it. As I've mentioned before there are plenty of quail. They built their nests under the cactus pads. The cactus offers them shelter and protection from predators. Some farmers south of here have told me that they have seen many pheasants in their ranches. Apparently someone brought some of these birds and released them - - - and they have multiplied. A game warden told these farmers that they can shoot the pheasants whenever they want, that they are not protected. I encourage all of them not to shoot them. Let them increase in numbers even more.
Lentil and Cactus Soup (Mom's Recipe)
14 cups water
TIP! To enhance the flavor of your dish, use Swanson® Chicken Broth in place of water.
3 cloves garlic, cut into thirds
1 pound lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 1/2 tablespoons chicken bouillon (such as Knorr®)
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin, or to taste
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon (such as Knorr®), or to taste
1 cup cooked diced nopales (cactus), drained
3 small potatoes, peeled and chopped
Bring the water to a boil in a soup pot with 3 cloves of garlic. Stir in the lentils and 1 1/2 tablespoons of chicken bouillon. Simmer over medium-low heat until lentils are almost soft, about 1 hour.
Heat extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet, and cook and stir the onion and 2 chopped cloves of garlic until the onion becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and continue
to cook and stir until the tomato releases its juice, about 5 more minutes. Stir the tomato mixture into the lentil soup along with cumin and 2 more teaspoons of chicken bouillon, or to taste. Bring the soup to a simmer, stir in the nopales and potatoes, and cook over low heat until the potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle evenly with minced cilantro, and fold in half.
Thanks to those members who have paid up their membership dues.
The Texas Cactus Council will meet on Thursday, January 12, 2017, at El Charro Restaurant in Alice, Texas (1011 W. Front 78332) at 6:00 p.m. They have a great menu. Invite your family and friends. You may bring a door prize if you wish. I will bring some spineless cactus pads for those who want to start their cactus gardens.
See you all in Alice.
J. T. Garcia
Webmaster: Chumbe Salinas