When you hear the phrase “When life gives you lemons…”, you automatically complete the sentence with “make lemonade.” Have you ever given any thought to how unfair it is that the character of the poor lemon has been hijacked to stand for having something so unpleasant happen that you need to immediately try and change it into something else? This does not seem fitting treatment for a fruit descended from a species that has been around for more than seven million years and has wide ranging health benefits. Add to that the fact that some of our all-time favorite foods are made with lemons and it might make more sense that calling something “a lemon” should equate with bestowing the highest of praise.
Health Benefits Derived from Lemons
There are those rare individuals who claim to like just biting into a lemon, but the vast majority of us know that is not how to best enjoy its flavor or reap its benefits. And, you may be more than a little surprised to learn just how many health benefits that lemons have. Besides being a known source of the all-important vitamin C, lemons also contain vitamin B6, potassium, copper, thiamin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid and folate.
That’s a lot! But, we are just getting started. Our grandparents knew the way to take care of us when we had a sore throat or other ailment was to mix up a warm, soothing concoction of lemon and honey (and sometimes a shot of whiskey). They may not have known about the antioxidants that lemons contain which help aid the immune system while fighting free radical damage, the citric acid that helps with digestion and the beta-carotenes, lutein and vitamin A that support healthy skin and vision, but they knew it would make us feel better.
What Should You Make with Those Lemons?
Whether you truly are looking for something to turn a bad situation around or looking for the ideal way to celebrate a special occasion, a lemon treat of some sort is the perfect choice. You may think that your favorite fruit is the strawberry or that your top pick in the citrus family is the orange, which pretty much has an entire state dedicated to it, but you would be sorely challenged going head to head with the list of delicious foods that star our friend the lemon.
Chances are you have never taken a survey of the pie that sells out the fastest in most restaurants, but you would be safe to bet that it is the lemon meringue. Not only is it tricky to make at home, but the taste and texture of the lemon, much the same as in lemon bars, is unbeatable. There is something about the sourness of the lemon that has a unique effect on the taste buds. Sweet and salty foods activate the tip of the tongue and bitter is tasted on the back. The citric acid in the lemon is experienced all along the sides and center of the tongue, which is why the flavor is so powerful.
The list of foods that we love so much because of the presence of the lemon is long. Besides pies and bars, desserts include cakes (ever tried lemon cheesecake?), cookies, donuts, sweet rolls, crepes, muffins, tarts, ice cream, gelato and other frozen treats. Lemon is used with cooking all sorts of main and side dishes, especially amazing seafood and chicken entrees, like shrimp scampi and chicken piccata. Paired with garlic, there are hundreds of pasta and other types of recipes that simply would not work without the lemon.
Last, but certainly not least, is there anyone who hasn’t pulled over after spotting a youngster’s lemonade stand on the side of the road? Nothing beats an icy glass of nature’s most refreshing beverage on a hot summer day. When life gives you lemons, rejoice! And then go make that lemonade.