I’ve been a major fan of sliced cactus (nopalitos) for many years.
I’d compare the flavor and texture to a cross between a bell pepper or
poblano pepper and okra. Admittedly, I’ve never bothered to buy the
whole pad from the vegetable section of the grocery store and carve
the quills out of them in my kitchen. However, usually I get the pickled
variety in a jar, and I save the jars for leftovers. Fresh bags of sliced
nopalitos in the vegetable section are confined to Mexican grocery
stores—such as La Michoacana. Cactus (Nopalitos) seems to find its
way to restaurants/taquerias either with beef fajitas or scrambled eggs
in a breakfast taco.
Finally, I read the nutritional information from two empty bags of
fresh nopalitos, and two jars from pickled nopalitos. The nutritional
data is staggering. Vinegar and salt deplete nutrients!
Let’s start by looking at that fresh bag of sliced cactus by Latin
Specialties. One cup contains the following: Calcium—39%,
Potassium—17%, Vitamin A—22%, Vitamin C—36%, Dietary
Fiber—20%, Iron–8%, Sodium—2%, Protein—6%, Carbohydrate—3% &
Fat—0%. The statistics for Ortega’s Nopalitos are virtually the same,
except the Potassium amount is unknown.
On the other hand, let’s look at the convenient pickled cactus in a
jar. Two tablespoons of Dona Maria Nopalitos has no Calcium, no
Potassium, Vitamin A—2%, no Vitamin C, no Dietary Fiber, no Iron,
Sodium—23%, No Protein, Carbohydrate nor Fat. Meanwhile, a half
cup of El Mexicano Nopalitos has the following: Calcium—5%, no
Potassium, no Vitamin A, no Vitamin C, no Dietary Fiber, Iron—6%,
Sodium—21%, Protein—2%, Carbohydrate—1% & Fat—0%.