Category Archives: Mexican Food and Drink

Natural Healing–Nispero leaf tea — Loquat leaf tea

I have long enjoyed the nispero fruit which is known as míspero locally.  Mama Sofia had several full-grown trees and when in season would always give us a bucketful to take home.  My husband has been trying for years to grow our own nispero tree. One time Miss Piggy broke loose and ate it.  Another time, a hoard of ants stripped the sapling bare overnight and it dried out. A third planting was destroyed by the chickens.  However we currently have not one, but two, healthy nisperos out back. They aren’t mature enough to produce fruit yet, but I have made nispero leaf tea.  It’s delicious! It has a fruity flavor all its own.

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The nispero (Eriobotrya japonica) otherwise known as loquat is not native to Mexico or Japan, but China.  I wasn’t able to trace its migration to Mexico, although I imagine it came with the Spanish.  Regardless how it arrived, it is a healthy addition to your Mexican diet whether eaten as a fruit or enjoyed as a tea.  It’s long been used to treat skin inflammation and respiratory problems in China. Here are some other health benefits:

Loquat has been found to be Anti-acne, Anti-aging, Anti-allergy, Antioxidant, Anti-inflammatory  and provide beneficial immunomodulatory effects (Read more here and here and here.) It reduces body weight through control of lipid metabolism and reduces fat deposits in the liver. The loquat flower has a protective effect on acute alcohol-induced liver injury. Loquat also reduces total cholesterol and triglycerides (Read more here.) and prevent skeletal muscle atrophy. (Read more here.) It is useful in treating diabetes (Read more here.), useful in treating cancer (Read more here and here and here and here.), useful in fighting bacterial infections, and useful in the treatment of respiratory disorders. Loquat leaf tea is known to relieve cough and reduce phlegm. as well as aiding in the treatment of chronic bronchitis.  Finally, Loquat suppresses ovariectomy-induced bone mineral density deterioration.  

Here’s how to make nispero leaf tea:

Pick a handful of leaves, preferably young leaves.  Scrape off the furry underside. Wash and let dry.

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Cut the leaves lengthwise in long stripes to reduce oxidation.  

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Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Let the leaves steep for 10 minutes. Strain and serve. Flavor with honey if desired.  It really doesn’t need it. The flavor is lightly fruity.

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I found one recipe that suggested the tea can be served as a hot toddy, with a splash of whiskey or bourbon and lemon on the side.  I suppose it could. Maybe I’ll try it this way during the rainy season on one of my days off.

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Natural Remedies — Lime Leaf Tea — Té de Limón

The other day we were going through our morning routine and discovered, to our horror, that we were out of coffee!  Never one to be dismayed by such trivialities, my husband ducked out back and plucked a few leaves off our limón tree.  Quite soon we had ourselves a nice cuppa of té de limón.

Despite what google translator says, we don’t have a lemon tree in the backyard.  It’s a LIME tree, specifically a Mexican lime tree (Citrus aurantifolia Swingle). The Mexican lime was actually introduced to Mexico by the Spaniards in the early 1500s.  That didn’t stop the author of my little herb book Antiguo Recetario Medicinal Azteca from including it though.  

We use limes on about everything from tacos to cucumbers. Delicious! So let me tell you about the health benefits of regular lime consumption.

Lime juice prevents scurvy.  Lest you think that this is irrelevant in this day and age, 6 to 8 percent of the general population in the United States are thought to have scurvy-level deficiencies.  Scurvy is especially prevalent among the poor, homeless and college students. 

Adding lime juice to food prevents cholera. Not to alarm you, but in 2016, there were 132,121 cholera cases and 2420 deaths attributed to cholera reported worldwide.  Cholera resistance seems to be a very positive benefit to lime consumption in my book.

The peel and leaves have been shown to reduce the oxidative degeneration of cells in neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.

Lime prevents cancer.  It slows cancer’s progress.  It destroys cancer cells. It is toxic to pancreatic cancer cells.  A high citrus diet combined with green tea consumption reduces your chance of getting any type of cancer incidences.

Lime relieves muscle spasms.

Lime is rich in fiber, vitamin C, folate and potassium, all good for general health.

Limes are helpful in the treatment of diabetes. Combined with garlic, lime juice decreases blood glucose levels.  (See Garlic Tea)

It’s great for cardiovascular health! Lime juice and peel have been shown to be effective in treating atherogenesis, plaque formation in the arteries, lowering high blood pressure and reduces triglycerides, cholesterol, and LDL.  Including limes and other citrus fruits in your daily diet reduces the chance of developing cardiovascular disease, especially cerebral infarctions.

Lime leaves are a good source of natural antioxidants and antimicrobial compounds and are comparable in their antibiotic effect to standard antibiotics such as tobramycin, gentamicin sulphate, ofloxacin, and ciprofloxacin.

Regular lime consumption has been proven to help protect the liver from toxins.

Limes can help prevent and reduce the severity of osteoporosis.

Limes are antifungal and antiparasitic.

Lime juice is recommended for preventing and treating urinary tract infections.

With all this medicinal good stuff in such a small thing, it’s worth reconsidering putting the lime in the coconut and drinking it all up.  

Not quite so adventurous?  You can still enjoy the health benefits by adding a little lime leaf tea to your diet, here’s how.

Pick and wash a handful of medium-sized leaves.  Add to a liter of water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Allow to cool enough to drink.  Add a drop of honey for sweetening if you like.  Enjoy.

 

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Natural Remedies — Cherimoya

It’s that time again.  Walking in our backyard has become a hazard.  When you least expect it, heavy green fruit balls just might fall on your head.  So beware!

Our cherimoya, AKA chirimoya, chirmuya or custard apple, tree is loaded this year.   This strange name comes from the Quechua language and means “cold seeds” so called because the tree grows at altitudes of 1,300 to 2,600 m (4, 200 to 8,500 ft) and must have cooler weather periodically or will eventually go dormant.  There are several varieties of cherimoya.  The one in our backyard is the Annona cherimola.

You know a cherimoya is ripe when it has the consistency of a ripe avocado when squeezed, a bit mushy but is not yet brown and rotty. The peel and seeds are not edible.  In fact, the seeds are poisonous when crushed.  They contain small amounts of neurotoxic acetogenins like annonacin.  Dried seeds that have been ground into powder can be used to make a paste that can help get rid of hair lice.

Cherimoya tree bark extract is also dangerous.  If injected it can induce paralysis. I don’t know how anyone would have discovered that by accident, but it’s a useful fact to know. The leaves have long been used to treat hypercholesterolemia in Mexico and scientific study has confirmed that there is a basis for their use in treating high cholesterol. Cherimoya leaves have also been used traditionally in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery and again, scientific studies confirm its use for those illnesses.

“We had an abundance of mangoes, papaias and bananas here, but the pride of the islands, the most delicious fruit known to men, cherimoya, was not in season. It has a soft pulp, like a

And oh, the taste!  Once you break open a cherimoya, the inside is creamy white. The riper it is, the sweeter and softer the texture.  While I’ve seen descriptions of the flavor ranging from banana to bubble gum, to me, it has a sweet, citrus flavor.  In fact, they are so sweet that I can’t eat more than one.

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There’s more to these huge ugly roundish fruits than meets the eye. Cherimoya is an excellent source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, fiber, and riboflavin.  It’s been proven to help with depression and to be suitable for the treatment of oxidative stress related disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Asperger syndrome, cancer, atherosclerosis, heart failure, myocardial infarction, Sickle Cell disease, autism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and even tempers the wear and tear of normal aging like wrinkles, osteoporosis and gray hair. Cherimoya has also been shown to be successful in the treatment of diabetes and gastrointestinal disorders.

The fruit is only in season a short time, in our area mid-September to November, so it’s best to eat what you can while the cherimoya is available.

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The Herbal Starter Kit by the Herbal Academy

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Herbal Fermentation

One of the things that sold me on the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle was the inclusion of Herbal Academy’s The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course normally retailed at $129 USD.  Just like the previous course I enrolled in at Herbal Academy, the Herbal Materia Medica Course, it was jampacked with information.  I’ll share a few highlights so you can see for yourself.
The Craft of Herbal Fermentation Course by Herbal Academy

Unit 1 was all about brewing herbal beer. Not only is it good for you, but the act of making your own beer allows you to become a part of a centuries-old brewing tradition.  The course talked about the history of beer brewing as a medicinal tonic, provided a brewing video tutorial, and even expounded on the experience of herbal beer tasting.  Included were all sorts of downloadable handouts to simplify your beer brewing efforts.

Unit 2 dealt with herbal mead.  This time there were two video tutorials as well as an entire lesson dedicated to herbal mead brewing philosophy. Again, lots of handouts and fascinating tidbits.  Did you know that the Maya made a mead called balché from tree bark and another mead from the nectar of the Morning Glory plant called xtabentún?

Unit 3 focused on kombucha and water kefir. I’d heard these two beverages mentioned time and time again as probiotic drinks and was extremely curious about the material in this unit.  There was a video tutorial for each type of fermented drink along with a lesson about sugar, caffeine, and alcohol safety concerns.

Unit 4 was devoted to lacto-fermented vegetables like pickles and sauerkraut. Again there was a video tutorial and plenty of downloadable resources.  If you are interested in just getting these handouts without enrolling in the course, Herbal Academy has made them available here.

So there you have it–a brief overview of the course.  Sadly, for me, this course was for informational purposes only.  Just like with canning, the supplies I would need to successfully ferment herbally are not available locally.  I did get a nifty badge to display proudly.

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I am looking forward to my next class with Herbal Academy, the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course, that begins October 30. There’s a discount if you register before then.  Here’s a link to a sneak preview of the course: 3 Nervine Herbs to Help Soothe Stress.

Enroll in the Herbal Self-Care for Stress Management Course

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