Simple, I love them and they make me happy.
So why not lemons?
When I was a kid, a bowl of lemon wedges sprinkled with sugar was my favorite snack. A salsa and Velveeta cheese sandwich with iceberg lettuce and extra mayo was my favorite sandwich. Somethings have changed. My love for lemons has not. I moved to California five years ago just for the lemons. Just kidding... (it was the avocados).
Lemons represent love, happiness, and healing. The lemon tree, a symbol of health, produces fruit year round. I hope to emulate the lemon tree, continually bearing little nuggets of love, happiness, and healing for those around me.
The lemon is nature’s perfect package: the sour zest, the bitter pith, and juicy tang.
They are the perfect example of an underutilized food. We squeeze the juice and throw away the peel. Yes, lemon juice is a great source of flavor, Vitamin C, A, B6, and Folate. But the peel contains all of these plus a concentrated amount of the phytochemical limonene. Limonene has been shown to improve digestion issues like acid reflux, help dissolve gallstones, and have notable anti-cancer activities. And the pith, the white, fleshy, bitter part, is made of fibrous pectin. The gel-forming abilities of pectin give jam its “jelly” and bind to cholesterol (and other toxins) to aid its excretion from the body.∗ These are just lemon’s health benefits- the household, body and beauty uses are endless.
It should be mentioned that not all lemons are created equal. Conventional lemons are sprayed with pesticides and often wax to give them an unnatural “natural glossy finish”. I could go on further about how much this frustrates me, but I’ll save that rant for later. Just know, buy organic whenever possible and ALWAYS if you are using the outer flesh of the lemon. Remember the above mentioned, limonene? That is the lemon’s natural pesticide, anti-fungal, anti-microbial defense and should be enough. Sometimes nature’s defense is our best offense. It’s okay if they look bumpy and misshapen- they are still delicious.
“In nature nothing is perfect and everything is perfect.” - Alice Walker
Lemon is my not so secret ingredient in most recipes. I love adding a little to soups, salads, baked goods, …water. Here is my latest favorite way to eat a lemon. It is the star of the show in this Lemon Blueberry Pie Smoothie recipe. This smoothie is an antioxidant, omega-3, fiber rich punch. The recipe calls for 1 whole lemon, but you can start with half a lemon. I like to add greens whenever possible, the darker the better. Be warned that kale and collard have a stronger presence than spinach. This smoothie is a great way to start the day or as an afternoon pick-me-up. And remember… chew your smoothies.
Lemon-Blueberry Pie Smoothie:
- 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
- 1 cup nut milk or ½ coconut milk w/ ½ cup water
- 1 lemon, seeded (peel, pith, and all)
- 1 cup dark leafy green (kale, collard, spinach)
- 2 tbsp flax seeds
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- Place ingredients in blender, pulse to start, then blend until smooth.
- Drink up and enjoy!
∗ Murray, M., Pizzorno, J., & Pizzorno, L. (2005). Encyclopedia of Healing Foods. New York, NY: Atria Books.