by Stef Jantz, Food Columnist
It’s prickly on the outside but soft on the inside. It’s none other than the aloe vera plant. A multi-purpose plant we are very lucky to have been gifted to this planet.
It’s part of the lily family, which is pretty cool, and its origins were mysterious until lately.
In Egypt, carvings were found over 6000 years ago and were considered a common burial offering or gift to deceased pharaohs whose remnants were found in tombs. However, its medicinal uses appeared in Sumerian hieroglyphic tablets around 2200 BC in the Mesopotamia civilization and were recorded using it as a laxative.
It’s also said that aloe was used as an embalming because of its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. Aloe was widespread around the globe and was along the trade routes throughout the Middle East, Coasts of Africa, and Mediterranean regions.
It also spread along the Silk Road to Asia, India, and the Far East, but many believed it may have originated in the Sudan or Arabian Peninsula, or even maybe the Canary Islands.
The aloe vera plant is loaded, as you know.
It’s 99% water and the inner gel contains vitamin A, vitamin C and E, vitamin B12, folic acid, and choline.
The gel also contains important en- zymes, minerals, natural sugar, lignin (formation of cell walls), saponin (lowers cholesterol), salicylic acids (aspirin), and amino acids.
It’s also great for your digestive system. Ever tried aloe water?
There are different types out there and there’s one brand that has different flavors with small chunks of aloe in it. Don’t cringe, it’s actually really refreshing!
Think of it like boba tea for its crunchy property in recipes, mainly salads, jellies, smoothies, and drinks.
Now, if you plan on cutting and trim- ming your own aloe, be sure to look it up and do it by the book.
There are little toxic bits on the flesh that are yellow and noticeable but don’t let it deter you. However, I will leave you with a drink recipe for you and your family for those hot days on the water, next to the water, or just hanging out.
I was hesitant to try aloe and don’t regret it, so I dare you to try something new if you haven’t already. You know, you can also add a little something to make it a party too.
Watermelon Coconut Aloe Juice
*3-4 cups whole de-seeded watermelon flesh, not including the rind (enough to fill a large blender 3/4 of the way; about 1/8 of my medium sized watermelon)
*about 1/4 cup aloe flesh, pressed or scraped from the leaf, greens discarded
*fresh basil, to garnish
–Fill the blender with the whole watermelon flesh – about 3/4 of the way full.
–Top with enough coconut water to just cover the watermelon.
–Add aloe flesh. Blend. Serve.
–Garnish with a basil leaf.