NATURES BEAUTY - LILY

Easter is upon us, and no flower is more associated with the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection than the lily. Traditional lore says white lilies emerged where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the earth in his final hours on the cross. The ancient Greeks believed lilies came from the breast milk of Hera, the queen of the gods. In Roman mythology, Venus, the goddess of beauty, was jealous of the flower’s white loveliness. A European legend says if you approach an expectant mother holding a lily….

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NATURES BEAUTY - SQUASH

Is squash a vegetable or a fruit? You would probably call a zucchini squash a vegetable, but you would most likely call a pumpkin a fruit. The definitive answer, from a botanical view, is squash are fruits because they contain the seeds of the plant.  Squash are some of the oldest cultivated crops on earth, believed to have originated in Mexico and Central America more than 10,000 years ago. The word squash comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means…..

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NATURES BEAUTY - CINNAMON

One of the best-loved spices of cooks and food lovers alike is cinnamon. Made from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, cinnamon has been around since the days of ancient Egypt, where it was used to embalm mummies. The tree is native to the Caribbean, South America and Southeast Asia. Indonesia and China produce three-quarters of the world’s supply of cinnamon today.

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NATURES BEAUTY - CACTUS

rich in iron and vitamins A and C as well as B complex vitamins. They can be eaten raw or they can be roasted, boiled, sautéed or grilled or made into jams and juice. The purported benefits of fresh cactus juice include lowering blood sugar and cholesterol and healing wounds. Be careful, though – eating prickly pear can cause side effects such as nausea or diarrhea.


Certain cactuses produce a substance called mescaline, which can have hallucinogenic effects. Some cultures use cactuses as a treatment for various ailments. Prickly pear cactus is said to have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It can be used for treating obesity and hangovers. The plant’s fiber and pectin decrease blood sugar by minimizing sugar absorption in the stomach and intestines. In addition, the leaves contain several antioxidants that can help protect healthy cells from being damaged by free radicals, thus reducing cancer risk or at least inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. Other health claims for nopales include improved skin health and strong bones.


In Arizona, it is against the law to harm a saguaro cactus. You also have to get a special permit for any construction that will affect a living plant. Cactuses are a

a little tricky to grow in a climate such as we have in this part of the country, but for the reward of their beauty and quirkiness (and nopales), it’s worth giving cactus a try.


Sources:


TANYA TYLER

Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine

more articles by Tanya Tyler

Despite their prickly needles and spines, cactuses are really beautiful creations. There are approximately 2,000 different species of cactus. They are found from British Columbia all the way down to Patagonia and come in numerous shapes and sizes. The largest saguaro cactus on record, nicknamed “The Grand One,” was approximately 46 feet tall. The smallest cactus is only about a centimeter in diameter. Cactus flower colors range from white to yellow to red to magenta. Depending on the species, a cactus can live up to 300 years.


Cactuses are generally found in arid or desert environments, so they have adapted extraordinary measures to conserve water. They are called succulents because they can store water in their stems and roots. Those aforementioned spines – which can be soft or rigid, straight or curved, arranged in rows or scattered – often reach 6 inches in length. They are not only for defense; they also help the plants prevent water loss. They reduce air flow close to the cactus and provide shade. A waxy substance on the surface of a cactus prevents loss of water from transpiration.


Almost any fleshy cactus fruit is edible, including the leaves, flowers, stems and fruit. Dragonfruit comes from a type of cactus. The fruit of the saguaro has been an important part of the diet of the indigenous people of northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States for centuries. The fleshy oval leaves or paddles of the prickly pear cactus are called nopales in Spanish. They can be chopped up and used in a variety of dishes (once the spines are scarped off). Nopales are