when life gives you lemons…
September flew by in a flash and somehow here we are well into autumn!
The transition is still happening around me – the weather has changed yet the leaves are just beginning their transformation. Halloween decorations are cropping up on front porches and apple varieties are multiplying in barrels at my food co-op.
But I’m still looking for a little bit sunshine in the form of a lemon.
I can remember this time several years ago, hopping between health and nutrition conferences and searching for lemons among the apples and pears in the market. I was both amazed and inspired by how much the lemon – its juice, its flesh and its peel – had come up throughout both conferences, even though one seminar was focused on fighting cancer and the other on striving for longevity.
So I was looking for life to give me some lemons.
Since two major factors in both cancer prevention and living a long and healthy life are managing blood sugar and quelling inflammation, I decided to focus today on two recipes that include ingredients that target both those goals while simultaneously celebrating the benefits of the lemon.
And, since I’m often asked for healthy breakfast ideas, I wanted to provide you with recipes that you can easily use to start your day. A good breakfast, within one hour of waking, is your best bet for maintaining balanced blood sugar throughout the day!
Try one (or both) of these options and bring a little lemony sunshine back into your morning (even if it’s cold and dark when you make your way to the kitchen).
Lemon’s Life Lengthening Legacy
Lemons are actually a superfood. We tend to think of foods like goji berries and acai as superfoods, but don’t forget about the lemon!
When choosing a lemon, hold the fruit in your hand and determine its heaviness. You’ll get more juice out of a heavier lemon with a thinner skin. You can store lemons at room temperature for about two weeks, and in the fridge, in a crisper, for longer.
If you want to make your own lemon juice to have on hand for quick meal prep, juice a large batch of lemons over the weekend and pour into mini ice cube trays. Freeze and store in a container in the freezer to have ready-to-go lemon juice. But truth be told, squeezing a fresh lemon takes about two seconds!
The Health Benefits of Lemons
- The phytochemical limonene, found in high concentration in the white, spongy inner parts of the lemon, is being used in clinical trials to dissolve gallstones. It’s also shown to have extremely potent anti-cancer potential.
- Lemon is an antioxidant. It deactivates free-radical damage which can help in the prevention of heart attacks, stroke and cancer.
- Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C, one of nature’s most important antioxidants and one of your immune system’s best friends.
- One large Japanese study on the health benefits of green tea showed that a squeeze of lemon in the tea helped the body to absorb 13% more of the tea’s antioxidant potential than tea consumed without the lemon!
- Although lemons seem acidic in nature, they are actually alkaline in the body, helping to remove acid wastes. This is helpful for many health conditions including the mitigation of arthritis.
- A few drops of lemon in warm water will help to prime the digestive system and support the gate-keeping activities of the liver. This makes lemons one of your top cleansing foods.
- Lemon seems to have strong antibiotic effects and has been shown to have a significant role in protecting against specific bacteria-borne illnesses.
- A compound in lemons called limonoid has been shown to aid in the prevention of cancers in the mouth, skin, lung, breast and colon.
The Organic Factor: Lemons are on the Environmental Working Group’s list of fruits to buy organic. Even though these fruits have a skin, the skins of non-organic lemons are heavily sprayed with pesticides. If using the zest, be 100% sure that you’re working with an organic lemon.
Grain-Free Lemony Biscuit Scones
Whenever I can, I start my day with a green smoothie. Actually, a workout and a green smoothie. It’s what feels best to me on several levels. It’s as if I’m launching into the day with a big ‘check’ off my to-do list. That eight servings of fruits and vegetables that I’d like to be eating to stave off cancer and consume a hearty filling of disease fighting antioxidants?: ‘check!’
That said, sometimes I crave something that might feel closer to a carb. These easy grain-free scones hit the spot and deliver a great pack of protein that won’t spike my blood sugar and leave me hungry, crashing or craving a green tea latte by 10am.
- 1-1/2 cups almond flour
- 1/2 cup ground chia seeds
- 3/4 tspn baking soda
- 1/2 tspn xantham gum
- 1 heaping tspn cinnamon
- pinch salt
- 1 flax “egg” (1 Tablespoon flax blended with 3 Tablespoons water)
- 2 Tbspn yacon syrup, coconut nectar or pure maple syrup
- 1 tspn vanilla
- zest of one lemon
- 1 Tbspn fresh squeezed lemon juice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a food processor, mix together dry ingredients. In a small bowl, whisk wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients into the food processor along with the dry ingredients and pulse until combined.
Form into a ball of dough and place the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. With slightly wet hands, press the dough into an even circle, about 1/2 inch thick.
Score the scone circle into 6 even wedges.
Bake 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cut through the scored wedges to separate. Place back in oven for 2 to 4 more minutes to allow the edges of the scones to harden slightly. Remove from the oven and let cool…slightly.
Serve warm from the oven with ghee, coconut oil or nut butter! Serves 3+.
Note: I didn’t grind the chia seeds for the scones when I snapped this picture, but many prefer the recipe when the chia seeds are ground.
Lemon Low-Glycemic Smoothie
This leafy smoothie is packed with cancer-fighting power. In fact, it contains five of the Top 10 Foods to Aid Glycemic (blood sugar) Control. Those are: cinnamon, berries, parsley, flaxseed meal and LEMON!
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups wild blueberries
- 1 large handful parsley
- zest of one lemon
- squeeze of half a lemon
- 1 Tablespoon flax meal
- 1 knob of fresh ginger, about the size of a small adult thumbnail
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 20 drops liquid vanilla stevia
- 1/4 cup Brazil nuts
- 1 Tablespoon maca root powder (optional)
- ice (optional)
With a high speed blender like a Vitamix or Blendtec, throw all ingredients in and blend on high until creamy and smooth. This smoothie is on the more liquid side, so be sure to add ice if you’d like it a bit more slushy-like.With a less powerful blender, be sure to chop the parsley and add ingredients and blend, one at a time, until all ingredients are liquified.
I like to drink my smoothies from a glass or metal straw. Serves 2.