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Ingredient Spotlight: Prickly Pear and its Many Wonders

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As more amazing ingredients become known to the modern world, many of them hold incredible benefits that are worth experiencing for yourself. If you’re into the latest and greatest discoveries about powerful health plants, prickly pear is definitely one to know. In fact, testing out prickly pear doesn’t have to stop at recipes either. You can even put it to use in your skincare routine to give that complexion a newfound glow. Look out for this one in the near future, because we’ve got a feeling it’s about to get much more popular.

Sadlero/Flickr

Prickly pear is a colorful fruit among the cactus family, which grows natively to Mexico. Nowadays, it’s harvested in broader areas around the Southwest United States and Europe.

Although the name is slightly misleading, prickly pear is not actually related to pears. It looks similar to cactus as well, with a slightly daunting outer skin. Don’t let this discourage you though, because the benefits it holds inside are completely worth it. With a sweet but mellow taste reminiscent of melon, a prickly pear can be used in countless dishes. Another great attribute is that basically all parts of this plant are edible, which includes the leaves and flowers. However, if you’ve never had prickly pear before, it’s recommended that you ease into it slowly when adding to your diet. This helps to ensure that you won’t have any initial discomfort in the process.

Beneficial Characteristics

Although research on prickly pear’s abilities is fairly new in development, it’s still a promising discovery with plenty of potentials. There are countless advantages you can expect to get when integrating prickly pear into your diet. With plenty of fiber as well as antioxidants, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and linoleic acid, this is a nutrient powerhouse. Specifically, antioxidants such as quercetin and dihydroquercetin found in prickly pear have been found to foster positive effects on the brain as well.

Prickly pear has also been used in holistic healing to treat issues such as digestive discomfort and viral infections. People have also included this as a key ingredient in alleviating the severity of hangovers. This capacity likely comes from prickly pear’s anti-inflammatory qualities, which can assist your body in order to operate at its best.

Ways to Enjoy Prickly Pear

Luckily, prickly pear is great in both sweet and savory dishes. A great unexpected way to include it in a recipe is this Pistachio Crusted Tofu With a Prickly Pear Sauce. This entree is not only delicious but also benefits from the vibrant color that this ingredient supplies.

For a more classic rendition on prickly pear, make it into this Cactus Pear Sorbet for the perfect icy treat.

On special occasions, consider showcasing prickly pear in special drinks for a rich pigment and impressive new flavor. It works particularly well in cocktails, martinis, and margaritas of your choice. It also lends itself wonderfully to smoothies and elixirs.

Another great way to work with prickly pear is by making it into a pancake syrup to drizzle on top as a unique finishing touch. The sweet fruity flavor is the ideal complement your morning meal.

Prickly Pear for Hair and Skin Care

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Yes, you can even use prickly pear externally to reap a new set of topical benefits. With even more Vitamin E than the ever-popular Argan oil, it’s about time this became used to its full potential. Prickly pear offers anti-aging benefits to the skin due to its amino acids which promote cell turnover. Whether you’re aiming to reverse the signs of aging or simply guarding against them, this is a great option. In addition, prickly pear oil absorbs quite well on the skin and can even help to reduce pores. It’s also great for promoting elasticity as well as brightening thanks to the linoleic acid inside. On top of all this, it also won’t clog pores!

For the hair, this pear is also great for smoothing and promoting overall health. The fatty acids and beneficial oils are to thank for these wonders.

All in all, pear is certainly worth trying out! Whether you’re looking to inject new flavor into your diet or searching for the next amazing skin savior, this might be the perfect fit.

For more cactus-related guidance, check out this guide to Cooking With Cactus: Tips and Tricks. Also, be sure to download the Food Monster App, which you can find on both Android and iPhone, in addition to Instagram and Facebook! The app features over 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes to help supply you with new healthy recipes every single day.

Lead Image Source: Judith Gandy

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