Nopal is a vegetable made from the pad of the prickly pear cactus that is indigenous to Mexico. The texture of cooked nopales is reminiscent to green beans, and they are used extensively throughout Mexican cuisine.
Nopales have been used in Mexican and Central American cultures to lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. Although there are no large scale studies indicating that nopales do demonstrate consistent blood glucose lowering effects, the high pectin and fiber content of nopales are thought to play a role in decreasing carbohydrate absorption.
Because of their high water content – almost 94% – nopales are very low in calories. A one-cup serving has 14 calories and 2 grams of dietary fiber.
To prepare nopales, the younger plants are selected, de-thorned and then cleaned and boiled, broiled or sauteed. When seasoned properly, the end product is usually tasty, but the preparation is nothing short of a pain.
Enter Tortillas de Maize con Nopal – nopales in a tortilla. I found these spectacular low-calorie tortillas at Northgate Market in San Ysidro, CA. They look, taste and cook up like regular corn tortillas – with about half the calories per tortilla of a regular corn tortillas.
One Tortilla con Nopal contains:
- 25 calories
- 0 g fat
- 6 g carbohydrate
- 1 g fiber
- 1 g protein
- 10 mg sodium
The only discernible difference between this and a regular corn tortilla was a slightly longer cooking time required to crisp the tortilla – and of course, the garish green color.
If you want the calorie-controlled high fiber benefits of nopal in the convenience of a tortilla, I highly suggest you check out the bright green tortilla, the one con nopales.