Rivenrock Gardens Cactus Blog

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Aloe Vera

   The old folks say that every single plant has a use to man.

   From what I’ve seen, I agree with them.

   We like to raise medicinal herbs…. we only sell the cactus… but we’ve grown a good number of different plants that had some medicinal use. 

   For burns whether by hot exhaust pipes or by the sun, there is nothing that beats Aloe Vera.  People also make it into a drink that is said to be healthy, although there is a process to remove the astringency in the sap.  We just keep a plant on hand for the occasional burn….

   Here’s that plant…. it’s over six feet wide.


Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera

A New Nopal Cactus Health Drink

    New products made from nopal cactus are starting to come out onto the market.
  This one is made from wild-harvested cactus plants. I don’t really like the idea of folks wandering the desert and harvesting plants. The animals of the desert use this amazing plant for their life…. I’d be happier if this company advertised that the plants were grown on the terraced fields of Rivenrock…. but instead they take the food from the mouths of the wild critters in the Sonoran desert and call it ‘sustainable wild-crafting techniques’.

   The commercial is a bit overblown, almost sensationalistic…. but dang, I sure do love the photography and the scenery in this commercial. And I am sure that it is a very healthy drink.


Cactus for weight loss

    There’s all kinds of cactus fiber formulations out there.   I reckon there’s some validity to them…. I don’t wish to speak against them because a large company buys cactus from us by the ton, and freeze-dries it to prepare for making into a powder.  I hope they sell tons and tons!



   While I’m a fan of ‘fresh’, I do know that some folks would rather take a small pill rather than eat a leaf each day.



  I came upon this video of a woman pitching a weight loss formulation using dried nopal cactus.




   I don’t know what studies she’s referring to…. but year by year, more studies come to light that do seem to point toward the efficacy of cactus for medical uses.  I think the next few years will bring to light the largest studies to date… ones that are ‘double-blind’ studies with a timeline of years for the research.  There are several large studies that have been in effect for the last five years or more…. these are the studies I am waiting for.

Cactus prickly pear helps normalize blood sugar

   I came by an informative article on the efficacy of Prickly Pear Cactus for the normalization of blood sugar levels and other health issues such as Cholesterol, and weight.


   The article written by Winston F. Craig, Ph.D., R.D., who is professor of nutrition at Andrews University is titled ‘Cactus prickly pear helps normalize blood sugar’.   Here’s a quote from the article….


“The stems of prickly pear cactus contain substantial levels of pectin and other soluble fibers. It’s the fiber content that is believed to be responsible for the ability of the cactus to lower blood sugar and blood lipid levels. Broiling the cactus stems apparently increases its ability to lower blood glucose levels. About 400-500 grams (one half pound) of broiled cactus stems is the typical dose needed for the effect. The high content of pectin also provides the consumer with a sense of abdominal fullness. This property may play a role in the use of prickly pear cactus for weight reduction”

Sauteed Cactus Recipe

mmMMMmmm Good!


   This recipe reminds me of a  friend of mine. He wanted to have a wife schooled in ‘The Old Ways’, so he went  down to Mexico and got himself a wife from his parent’s native village and brought her here to The States.  Ten years ago she knew no English…. now she can converse pretty well in both languages.  I went by their house one day, and they’d just settled down to a big bowl of sauteed cactus much like this recipe. 


   He had the biggest smile on his face when he saw me come in the door… he was so happy and proud to show me that his wife knew all about eating cactus, made him cactus meals nearly daily, and even cared enough to serve the meals in their clear bowls, so you could see all the bright colors of the various ingredients showing from all directions.


   Yes, this meal will make a brilliant display of greens, whites and reds and yellows.  

Sautéed Edible Cactus, Peppers, and Corn

Recipe Summary

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Number of servings: 4




    • 1 large red bell pepper

    • 1 large green bell pepper

    • 1 large onion

    • 1 Tbsp trans-fat free butter

    • 4 small ears of small summer corn

    • 1/2 lb fresh, firm edible cactus, with spines removed, cut in 1/4- to 1/2-inch diced pieces

    • finely minced cilantro or parsley




Halve peppers; then remove seeds and stems. Cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch squares. Cut onions the same size. Cook peppers and corn in butter in a heavy pan over moderate heat until just softened.

Remove husks and silk from corn; then cut from cob. Add edible cactus and corn to peppers and onion; stir over high heat until vegetables are cooked through, but firm-tender, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with herbs and serve hot.


Sautéed Edible Cactus, Peppers, and Corn
Serving Size 1/4 of recipe
Amount Per Serving 
Calories 180 Calories from Fat 35
% Daily Value (DV)* 
Total Fat 4g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 10mg 3%
Sodium 30mg 1%
Total Carbohydrates 31g 10%
Dietary Fiber 4g 16%
Sugars 8g  
Protein 5g  
Vitamin A 70%
Vitamin C 260%
Calcium 10%
Iron 8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000-calorie diet.


  You can find the original recipe with the ‘Diabetic Exchanges’ and the nutrients at Walgreens.


   I substitute olive oil for the butter… I’m an olive oil fanatic.  

   You can see how totally healthy this meal is…. and it is the common meal that peoples in the Americas would have eaten a thousand years ago. The bodies of the Native Americans were adapted to this low-fat high-nutrition diet…. it is the diet that all peoples should return to…. it is much healthier, and dang, it just plain tastes great!

Cactus, the new ‘Super-Fruit’

Here’s an artistically well-produced infomercial for a cactus fruit drink.


   They really hype it as some miracle-cure…. I don’t endorse that style… but I do like hearing people talking good about cactus. And the scenery in the video is pretty, as is the creative filming…. and if you want to buy fruit direct and make your own drink.. join our mailing list, when we start selling the fruit in another month… you could get notified and buy the fruit from us.

   The supposed super-nutrient in nopal cactus fruits is an antioxidant called ‘Betalains’.


I’ve often heard anecdotal evidence that the fruits are very healthy….


Cactus Video Playlist

Going through all the cactus videos I’ve collected on YouTube, I realized I should share this list.

   We have about a dozen of the best videos I’ve found, videos that will show you how to select and prepare cactus for eating, as well as a few recipe videos.

  So, now we have the Cactus Video Playlist.

Wear Sunscreen

I recall hearing this commencement address put to music many years ago. It’s true and pertinent.


Too bad they did not put the entire thing up on this little video… but they must have run out of cactus photos.


The photos are good.


We also have a video of a Hermann’s Tortoise eating nopal cactus

Cactus Salad (Nopalitos) with Maria J. Ronquillo

 Recipe for a “nopalitos” salad, as show on the show Let’s Cook Together, on 3ABN  in 2006


  I use about the same recipe myself…. I use a lot of onion, some garlic,  and more cilantro, some cumen, and corn and cooked black beans also.  I don’t use lemon since our cactus already has a lemony tang to it.




   The folks in this video harvest the same type cactus we do… Nopalea grande. We also use similar thick rubbery gloves. Leather gloves are not what to use.


     We put ours into five gallon buckets also,  to take them to the packing shed…. but our buckets are clean.

Cactus for Diabetes

Letha Hadady, author of FEED YOUR TIGER: 
     ”If you have diabetes or are at risk, there are several supplements that are easy to use and find in north American healthfood stores. ..Here is nopale cactus, which grows wild in the desert southwest, Mexico and throughout Latin America in dry climates. It also lowers blood sugar gradually and it tastes mild enough for the entire family. “