Flor de Calabasa – The Amazing Pumpkin Blossom and Why It’s Healthy to Eat!

A precious bee is pollinating a pumpkin squash blossom on a farm I visited last month in
Hidalgo, Mexico

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Just in time for Thanksgiving, I have been fascinated lately with this wonderful little flower! Who knew that the beautiful flower we see growing in the garden with our squash could be so healthy! It is just the simple squash blossom, but until my dear friend Gloria showed me how to cook with it, I never paid much attention to it.

Besides having a lovely light and mildly sweet taste, the squash blossom has many nutritional benefits. It primarily offers vitamin C and A, as well as folates, phosphorous and magnesium, which are all very important nutrients for body function and health. They have very few calories and are low in carbohydrates so they make a great light snack.

Since squash blossoms are very delicate, you probably won’t find them in grocery store, it is possible that a local farmer’s market may have them from time to time. The best to place to get these flowers is from your own garden!

My pumpkin squash blossoms at home
Trying to get a selfie with my blossoms!

I have found it to be fairly easy to grow squash and pumpkin in my area, but I’m just trying to figure out how to get rid of the tiny ants that have been hanging around – without using any pesticides. I am also learning that there are male and female blossoms, and of course bees are needed to pollinate in order to produce fruit. I think that God is just so amazing in His design that He planned for the females to become fruit and the males are left for us to consume!! See this article for more information on how to distinguish the blossoms: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/vegetables/squash/female-male-squash-blossoms.htm

The male squash blossom is the one to eat!

In the past Gloria spoke many times about the wonderful squash blossom quesadillas that she used to eat when she lived in Mexico. I never imagined it back then, but I had the chance to try this incredible dish with her near her family’s farm in Hidalgo last month!

While visiting the hot springs in Tlacotlapilco, we got to eat at the cocinas (or kitchen booths) that edged the pools. The ladies there made corn masa tortillas fresh on the griddle and served a comida corrida (daily special) as well as a la carte choices. Of course my choice was a flor de calabasa quesadilla and one with quelites (wild amaranth greens) both with melted Oaxaca style cheese that is very similar to mozzarella.

Oh my goodness were they ever delicious, and of course even better topped off with a spicy fresh salsa!

Handmade corn tortillas
Squash blossom quesadilla
Wild amaranth quesadilla

Amaranth greens are another incredible superfood. In my part of the world we call them bledo, has anyone ever heard of that? Like the squash blossom, the greens contain vitamin C, magnesium and phosphorus. Surprisingly they also have a marked amount of protein and calcium. This article gives a great summary of the amaranth health benefits: https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/amaranth.html

You can make a great authentic Hidalgo style quesadilla right in your own kitchen as well! Here’s what we did to make ours:

Hidalgo Style Squash Blossom Quesadillas

Find the freshest squash blossoms available, (these can come from zucchini and other squash as well)

Clean/rinse gently but thoroughly, slice open to make sure there are no bees hiding out! Remove the stamen/pistil from the middle and set aside to dry.

Make the corn tortillas. I always try to use organic corn masa, Bob’s Red Mill has a really nice one. Cook the tortillas on a cast iron comal if possible, but take them off heat just before they are completely done. Set in a cloth towel to keep warm.

Chop the squash blossoms and about 1/2 white onion and a clove of minced garlic.

To make the quesadillas really authentic you will want to add some fresh chopped epazote herb as well. Dried will work also if you can get fresh. Taste this first, as it has a very distinct flavor and might take some getting used to! (:

Epazote Herb

Saute the chopped ingredients in a small amount of avocado oil or organic beef tallow, add salt and pepper to taste. Shred the Oaxaca cheese. Now you can start to fill the corn tortillas with the sauted ingredients and cheese and heat them in a hot skillet with a small amount of oil. Gently heat the quesadilla until cheese is melted, then add some fresh salsa if desired and ENJOY!!

Slicing the blossoms
The corn tortillas
Sauteing the blossoms and onions
Our Quesadillas de Flor de Calabasa!

These were really fun to make with the kids and they tasted great (almost as good as the ones in Hidalgo) Haha – there’s nothing like the real food on location!

What ideas do you have for cooking squash blossoms? I would love to hear about it!


How to Make a Scrumptious Organic Peach Pie!

Organic Peach Pie from our Home Bakery – Hollyhock and Nopál

I’m back to writing now after enjoying celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot) last week! It was a joyous time dwelling outdoors and just focusing on the presence of God and His beautiful creation. This is a photo of the sukkah we built in our backyard.

Our backyard sukkah

So last post I talked about the incredible nutritional value of peaches, and now I want to share my recipe for a sweet peach treat with you!

My love for peach pies started when I was very young. Around seven years old, my mother did me the wonderful favor of entering me into the Kids Cook summer cooking contest at the Arizona Republic/Phoenix Gazette Newspaper.  Each week we kids were to try a recipe and then mail a short report back to the newspaper about how it went. The peach pie recipe was my favorite!

My mother saved the recipes for me from the Phoenix Gazette Summer 1977! That’s me on the lower right at 7 years old.

In college, I started to use a recipe from the Fanny Farmer Baking Book. Now as a mom, I learned to perfect my pie crust preparation by taking tips from Sally Fallon’s Nourishing Traditions cookbook. It’s been a work in progress and I’m sure I’ll learn some new methods as time goes on!

These days I am using only organic ingredients for my peach pies since conventional peaches have high amounts of pesticide residues.

Peach Pie and Pie Dough

Basic Pie Dough Adapted from Marion Cunningham’s and recipe

For a 9 inch 2 crust pie:

2 1/4 cups organic all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt

3/4 Organic palm shortening

6-7 Tbs cold filtered water

Mix flour and salt together in a food processor. Have cold water ready at hand. Place the palm shortening in bits onto the flour salt mixture. Pulse just until crumbly, don’t over mix. Add cold water one tablespoon at a time and pulse each time. Give two or three more pulses, just enough that the dough holds together, but again do not over mix. You should have a nice soft dough that is not sticky but not dry either. Remove dough from processor, cover and set aside.

Pie Filling

About 5-6 peeled, pitted, and sliced organic peaches

5 tablespoons organic flour

1/4 cup organic or coconut sugar

1/4 tsp Himalayan salt

1 Tb organic lemon juice, preferably fresh squeezed

2 Tbs organic unsalted butter

Preheat your oven to 425 F

Roll out half of your dough on a floured surface and lift carefully into a glass pie pan. Then roll out other half and cut into 1/2 inch strips.

2nd half of dough cut in strips

Place peach slices in large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl mix flour, sugar, and salt, pour mixture over peaches and toss gently but well, add lemon juice. Pour fruit mixture into dough lined pan and then dot with butter. Don’t forget the butter!

Dotting with butter!

Moisten the edges of the bottom crust and then weave a lattice top. This is not required but sure makes for a pretty pie!

Sprinkle a little bit (or a lot) of organic sugar on top crust before baking. Bake at 425 for 25 minutes. Reduce to 350 and bake another 20-25 minutes until the top is browned. I always put a cookie sheet under the pie as it is baking since sometimes peach juice may bubble out of the top of the pie and make a big mess in the stove. Remove from oven and cool on a rack. Enjoy!!


What I Didn’t Know About Peaches!

Fresh organic peaches from Utah

I think most people love peaches!  Eating a wonderfully sweet, ripe peach in the late Arizona summer is one of the most delicious taste experiences I know. Since I was a young girl I have been eating peaches and making peach pies every summer, so after reading this article by Dr. Axe https://draxe.com/nutrition/peach-nutrition/  I was pleasantly surprised to find out the amazing benefits of the Prunus persica (peach) 

According to the Dr. Axe article, eating peaches can be effective in the following areas:

1. Combats Free Radicals

2. Fights and Prevents Cancer

3. Prevents Dangerous Heart-Related Conditions

4. Reduces Inflammation

5. Treats Gut Disorders

6. Destroys Candida Fungus

7. Supports Healthy Eyes

Since I recently received a cancer diagnosis, the findings that the polyphenols in peaches can inhibit cancer growth was very encouraging. “A study at the Texas A&M University found that tumor growth and lung metastasis were inhibited in vivo by peach polyphenolics and may be considered as al chemopreventive tool to reduce the risk of metastasis  which can be supplied by consuming two to three peach fruit per day or alternatively using a dietary supplement peach polyphenol extract powder.” (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24745759). Even more reason to eat this delicious fruit!

Of course the best way to eat peaches is organic, fresh and never having been frozen or cooked.  I typically eat my fruit only once a day, separate from other foods to aid in digestion and assimilation of nutrients.

Dr. Axe posted a recipe for a great salad https://draxe.com/recipes/balsamic-peaches-and-goat-cheese-salad-recipe/ . I tried it at home with what I had on hand! Here’s my adapted recipe below.

Dandelion Green and Romaine Salad with Balsamic Peaches

Dandelion Greens with Balsamic Peaches Salad

Becky’s recipe adapted from Dr. Axe

  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon fermented balsamic vinegar
  • 2 organic peaches, cut into wedges
  • 1-2 pounds dandelion greens and romaine lettuce rinsed
  • 1 shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 cup raw walnut (soaked if possible)
  • 1 bunch basil, cut into thin strips
  • 4 ounces organic feta cheese, crumbled (reserve for last)
  • ⅓ cup kefir (preferably raw fermented)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon organic dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoon raw honey
  • 2 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoon fermented balsamic vinegar
  • ⅓ cup organic olive oil
  • 1 or 2 organic garlic cloves minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon organic powdered garlic
  • Himalayan sea salt and organic black pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine 1 tbsp. honey and vinegar; add peaches and coat.
  2. In large pan, sear peaches over medium heat for about 2 1/2 mins per side or until peaches are carmelized. remove and let cool.
  3. In a large bowl, toss together peaches, dandelion greens, shallot, walnuts, basil
  4. Whisk together last 8 ingredients or combine in a Mason Jar
  5. Drizzle over salad and Serve with 1 oz Goat Cheese on top.

Carmelizing the Peaches with Fermented Balsamic Vinegar and EVOO
Making the dressing

Later I will share my peach pie recipe for those times when you want to splurge a little bit on a sweet treat!  

Enjoy your salad and your peaches too!


What Does Living Naturally Mean to Me?

First and foremost, living a simple and natural life to me can be summed up by what the Apostle Paul says in the book of Romans paraphrased here:  … Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him.  But here is a more nuts and bolts description of just a few of the things that I have done over the years to try to live a more natural life.  Some were simple changes, others took a little more time, and some I’m still working towards!

  1. Eating healthy whole foods as much as possible! Homegrown vegetables and homecooked meals are the best!
  2. Removing processed foods and refined sugars from our diet and choosing organic as much as possible, especially clean meats and dairy products.
  3. Removing toxic cleaning products from the house and replacing with natural cleaners.
  4. Not using a microwave – We removed ours from the house more than 10 years ago and have never missed it! Well actually the only time I miss it is the day after Thanksgiving when I want to heat up a plate of leftovers.  But I just heat it on the stove or in the oven.
  5. Trying to stay away from WiFi and cellular waves as much as possible -that can be challenging in today’s world.  We still run DSL in the house.
  6. Try to wear mostly cotton clothing, organic cotton being the best!
  7. Using very few skin care, makeup products, and commercial fragrances.
  8. Try to avoid watching too much television and/or internet
  9. Getting outdoors and exercising a lot! 
  10. Going gray naturally and loving being myself!