The Natural Medicine Cabinet: Lemon
I was bummed to find out that I missed National Lemonade Day on Friday, but that doesn’t mean I can’t celebrate the most popular citrus fruit just a few days late!
Instead of the usual sugar- (or worse, artificial sugar-) laden drink, I’ve celebrated with a beautiful and refreshing cucumber lemonade, and I’ve got a few great ideas to help you live up “When life gives you lemons” day. Actually, I’d be pretty happy for life to give me lemons if it meant I got to make these recipes more often!
It’s no secret that I start almost every morning with a pint of lemon water or the Master Cleanse lemonade. I’m a big believer in the power of the food as medicine, and with lemon, you can experience all-around good health.
What are lemons good for? So glad you asked. They’re great for your digestive system, skin, and home. They’re cheap, readily available, completely non-toxic, and all around wonderful. What’s not to love?
Keep in mind that you need to use freshly squeezed juice to see health benefits. The stuff in the bottle is pasteurized and dead, best left for laundry (if anything at all). Perhaps one of the most beneficial reasons to have lemon water in the morning is its effects on the liver.
Drinking water with the juice of 1/4 lemon is great for so many things. First, it helps quell nausea and other kinds of digestive upset. If you’re suffering from constipation, make that water warm and you should be golden within a couple of hours. It helps your digestion by telling your liver to produce the necessary amount of bile for your digestive system to work at peak function all day.
Lemon is also a diuretic. I woke up all kinds of swollen this morning because I ate restaurant food twice this weekend (all that refined salt). I decided to have a quart of lemon water before breakfast to help, and now my sausage fingers are gone.
Because of its high potassium content, lemon juice is fantastic for people with heart problems and high blood pressure. If you’re getting a cold or the flu, lemon juice helps your fever break because it increases perspiration.
For clear, soft skin, squeeze fresh lemon juice on a cotton swab with a little bit of brown sugar and rub over your face for 1-2 minutes and rinse. It helps exfoliate the skin and lighten any age spots that may be creeping up.
Want whiter teeth to go with that clear skin? Sprinkle a bit of salt onto half a lemon and rub it over teeth to help whiten naturally. If you have sensitive teeth, please be careful as lemon can be an irritant.
Help tame dandruff by mixing one egg white with the juice of one lemon. Leave on for one hour, then rinse. Repeat monthly. I wouldn’t try this on color-treated hair, at least not on shades other than blonde!
To complete the head to toe beauty transformation, you can use lemon to smooth your tootsies. In a basin, combine one cup of lemon juice, two tablespoons olive oil, and 1/4 cup milk with enough water to fill the basin. Soak feet for 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water and towel dry. Repeat weekly for a fresh pedi year-round.
When cleaning your kitchen and bathrooms, look no further than your fruit bowl! A quartered lemon microwaved on high for 30 seconds then allowed to cool will help clean stubborn food crust in your machine. Bonus: it’ll smell super fresh (no more leftover salmon smell, blech).
Instead of buying expensive tablets to clean your garbage disposal, just toss the peel of your lemon into the disposal and run. It’ll smell nice and is about as cheap as remedies come!
After cutting meat, garlic, or onions on my wood cutting boards, I rub them with lemon, cut-side down. It not only helps to remove offensive odors, but also disinfects the boards.
If your stainless steel, copper, or brass gets tarnished, you can use a paste of lemon juice and baking soda to remove the stains. Apply, then let stand for five minutes before rinsing. Be sure to dry by hand
When you workout a lot, you’ll eventually get underarm stains on your clothes. Scrub the pits of your shirts (this works for ring around the collar, too) with equal parts lemon juice and water, they’ll come out stain-free and uberfresh!
Personally, I use about two lemons per day in my water and smoothies. I like to start my mornings with a Master Cleanse recipe, as it helps to get my digestive system working at its peak for the day.
Next, I toss 1/8 lemon in my green smoothie (peel and all). I find that the essence of the lemon is found more in the oil that’s in the peel than in the juice itself. The pith (the white part between the peel and the flesh of the fruit) also contains bioflavinoids. They help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, so be sure to get some pith into your diet!
I buy lemons in 5-pound bags. On the off chance I don’t use them all before they start going bad, I slice them into eight sections and freeze for smoothies. Alternatively, you can squeeze the juice into ice cube trays. If you like to use the zest for cooking, be sure to do that before you squeeze the lemons.
If you’ve got more zest than you need frozen for recipes, it’s a great idea to peel the lemon in large sections. From here you can make lemon extract for baking by adding a few peels to some vodka. You can also candy the peel for eating later — whatever floats your boat!
Master Cleanse Lemonade
Recipe from MasterCleanseSecrets.com
- 2 Tablespoons of organic lemon Juice (about 1/2 a Lemon)
- 2 Tablespoons of Organic grade B maple syrup (not the commercial maple flavored syrup you use on pancakes)
- 1/10 Teaspoon Cayenne pepper powder
- Ten ounces of filtered water
Mix well and enjoy!
Lemony Zucchini Fettuccine
Recipe modified slightly from Squeezetheday.com
- zest from 1 lemon
- juice from 2 lemons
- 1 lb. fettuccine
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 lb. zucchini, grated
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 cup grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1. Zest a lemon using a zester or a fine grater; set aside. Juice two lemons with a citrus reamer or juicer; set aside. Cook the fettuccine according to package instructions; drain and set aside.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil and sauté onion until soft. Add zucchini, salt and pepper; cook until zucchini begins to soften. Add cream and stir well. Add fresh lemon zest, lemon juice and oregano. Taste sauce for salt and add more if necessary.
3. Add pasta and cheese to sauce; toss well. Cook for a few minutes to heat pasta and melt cheese.
Modified slightly from Behindtheburner.com
- 2 cups of water
- 1 1/2 cups sucanat with honey (pulse in blender to make smaller granules), 1 cup palm sugar, or 3/4 cup agave nectar
- 3/4 cups of fresh lemon juice (2-3 lemons)
- 1 tsp. of honey
- Lemon peel for garnishing
1. Combine the water, sugar,honey and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Stir with a large spoon until the sugar has thoroughly dissolved, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a medium shallow baking pan.
2. Put the pan in the freezer and stir every 30 minutes for about three hours. Scrape the ice crystals off the sides and into the middle of the pan, until the mixture is too frozen to stir. Cover the pan with plastic and freeze overnight.
3. When the granita is ready for serving, put a fork at the top of the dish and pull it toward you in rows, moving from left to right as you rotate the pan. Scrape up the shaved ice, garnish with a fresh lemon peel and enjoy.
I hope you’ve found a new use for the humble lemon today. Whether you want to improve your complexion or your reflection in your stainless steel, lemon is for you!