Whether you love its light, bitter taste or are keen to try it for its nurturing properties, aloe vera is the ingredient taking the health world by storm. Here are our very favourite aloe vera recipes, all made with healthy plant-based ingredients.September 20, 2021 9:45 pm May 21, 2021 3:02 pm
What is aloe vera?
Aloe vera is a succulent with characteristic spiky green leaves which grow in a rosette shape. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not a cactus (all cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti!).
It tends to grow in hot, arid conditions and thus has developed an incredible ability to store whatever water it can get its hands on. So, while it looks dry and tough from the outside, within its leaves it stores an impressive amount of liquid.
It does this by creating a gel-like substance which holds on to as much water as possible,
Is the whole aloe vera plant edible?
Technically, you can eat whole aloe vera leaves, but we don’t recommend it. Firstly, you might mistake the edible species of aloe (aloe vera barbadensis Miller) for another less friendly version. Secondly, the skin is tough and not particularly pleasant to eat, although you can remove it.
Thirdly, aloe vera contains a substance called latex, or ‘sap’, a yellow liquid which is found between the skin of the plant and the gel inside. Its main component is a substance called aloin. It’s extremely bitter and can have adverse effects.
Aloe vera’s reputation as a powerful laxative comes mostly from its latex. Unsurprisingly, consuming too much of the latex can result in diarrhoea, abdominal pains and vomiting, among other unpleasant effects. It can also damage your kidneys and may even stimulate early labour in pregnant women. All good reasons to avoid it!(1)
When people talk about consuming, eating or drinking aloe vera, they are usually referring solely to the gel inside the leaves. Indeed, that’s where all the healthy nutrients are anyway. So, our advice is to stick to that and avoid the latex and skin.
Of course, if you want to avoid all the bother of removing the skin and latex and then crushing and extracting the inner leaf juice yourself, we highly recommend our Organic Aloe Vera Juice!
Where is Erbology aloe vera from?
While you might expect our aloe to come from a distant desert, we actually source it from southern Spain! More specifically, our aloe vera comes from Andalusia, and in particular the areas around the cities of Huelva, Almeria, Seville, Córdoba and Málaga.
It provides the perfect climate for our aloe plants without the need for a distant desert location!
The independent organic farmers we work with produce the highest quality aloe vera juice by making sure their aloe plants meet certain conditions before harvesting.
The plants must be over three years old, which means that their levels of beneficial nutrients are at their highest. They also only pick aloe vera leaves to order, to minimise waste and ensure freshness. Aloe vera grows all year round, so it’s simply a matter of popping out to harvest what they need.
Next, our farmers carefully extract the juice from the inner leaf of the plant only. Why? To make sure none of the tough skin or latex makes its way into our juice.
This is why, instead of having an unpleasant taste from the outer layers, our aloe vera juice has a light, refreshing taste with just a hint of natural bitterness.
Why is aloe vera good for you?
We have a whole article which goes into a lot of detail on aloe vera’s health benefits. But, by way of a quick recap, aloe vera contains 75 active compounds including vitamins, minerals and enzymes; all good stuff for your body to soak up.
However much of the interest in aloe vera is related to special sugars called acemannan polysaccharides. Scientists believe that these are responsible for many of aloe’s health effects.
Besides being well known traditionally as a digestive aid, aloe vera can help in other areas. Research has shown that acemannan polysaccharides can help support your immune system and aloe may even help regulate blood sugar levels.(2)(3)(4)
Our aloe vera juice contains 1600mg of acemannan polysaccharides per litre. This is higher than many other aloe products on the market, which are often sourced from Mexico.
"It’s an under appreciated fact about aloe vera that it can help your body to absorb water and minerals. Give your body a helping hand by mixing a tablespoon of aloe juice into your water bottle."
Aloe vera recipes
While lots of people like to enjoy aloe vera neat, if you’re sensitive to bitter flavours you might prefer to mix it into one of your recipes.
Our aloe vera shots are perfect for this as they’re pre-portioned into a handy 40ml shot which you can easily throw into a smoothie.
There are a few flavour combinations which go particularly well with aloe, so we’d like to share our favourites with you here.
Aloe vera smoothie
Our green smoothie recipe with milk thistle and aloe vera is a great choice for those of you looking for digestive benefits.
Not only is aloe vera traditionally linked to digestive health, you have the added benefits of milk thistle, too! If you’re unfamiliar with this special herb, check out our article on milk thistle’s health benefits. It has a similar link to cleansing and digestive health in traditional medicine. Plus, the oil is packed with skin-loving vitamin E.
In our smoothie recipe we’ve also included plenty of vegetables to keep the sugars low and help you hit the right ratio of fruits and vegetables for the day (for the record, you should be eating at least three portions of vegetables and two of fruit).
Hence the fabulous green colour, which comes from baby spinach, cucumber and spirulina. Meanwhile, banana, pineapple and kiwi add plenty of natural sweetness.
You can serve this smoothie as a drink, but we love it as a smoothie bowl. This gives you the option to add currants and chopped hazelnuts on top for extra texture and some all-important protein.
Cleansing almond milk with aloe
There are few drinks that can make you feel as virtuous as this one! Similar to a smoothie but with a much lighter, more liquid texture, it makes a healthy snack between meals or even a light breakfast.
We use Medjool dates to sweeten which eliminates the need for added sugar, but we do also like to add a drop or two of vanilla extract for that lovely, creamy flavour. Some extracts do contains sugar, so switch it for a pure vanilla bean paste with no added sugar if you’d prefer to avoid it.
You can drink this one straight from a glass, or use it as a nutritious milk for cereals. For example, we love to serve it with a sprinkling of our Jerusalem Artichoke and Raw Cacao Tigernut Granola. The rich dark chocolate flavour is a delicious match for the light, nutty, strawberry notes of the milk.
Aloe vera cocktail
Have you ever seen a cocktail as beautifully hued as this one? It gets its glorious fuchsia colour from pomegranate juice, tempered with a bit of orange. These two strong, sweet but sharp flavours complement aloe vera juice perfectly.
Our cocktail is, strictly speaking, a mocktail as it doesn’t contain any alcohol. That frees you up to serve it as an elegant apéritif at an evening dinner party, or put one together as a morning juice. Served on ice, it’s a delicious way to refresh yourself on a warm day.
A little squeeze of lime balances the flavours of the different fruits and will transport you to more exotic climes – if only in your mind.
Aloe and strawberry smoothie
We love a smoothie with fresh fruit in the mornings, but sometimes we’re not quite ready for a big burst of sweetness. We set to work creating a smoothie recipe which tasted light, refreshing, healthy and delicious, without being overly sweet.
Our secret is balancing sweet fruits such as strawberries with sharper or more botanical flavours. Grapefruit adds a citrus top note (and we much prefer drinking it in a smoothie to trying, with limited success, to scoop it out of the halved fruit with a serrated spoon).
Meanwhile, ginger brings spice and aloe vera provides that leafy freshness which is so welcome first thing in the morning.
Play about with the amount of sweetness that works for you by adjusting the amount of honey or agave syrup you use.
As smoothies go, this is one of the more complex and ‘grown-up’ recipes we’ve come across. If you’re keen to tailor it to young palates, try taking out the grapefruit and adding a few more strawberries.
Other ideas for aloe vera
Here are a few extra tips on how you can use our aloe vera juice.
1. Improve the vitamin and mineral content of your water
We all know that we need to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, but many of us still struggle to drink enough. Getting dehydrated throughout the day can lead to headaches and general feelings of malaise.
We always recommend that you keep a large glass or bottle of water handy on your desk so you can swig throughout the day.
It’s an under-appreciated fact about aloe vera that it can help your body to absorb water and minerals. Give your body a helping hand by mixing a tablespoon of aloe juice into your water bottle.
If you’re not partial to the flavour, a judicious squeeze of lemon juice will help. Alternatively, drop in a couple of slices of fresh cucumber and leave to infuse.
2. Turn it into an ice lolly
Aloe juice freezes very well, making it an easy ingredient to add to homemade popsicles. We love making our own at home as it’s a great way to pack more fruit into your diet while still seeming like a childhood treat!
Aloe juice goes well with citrus flavours like orange, lime and lemon, or if you prefer to soften its natural flavour, try choosing a blend of berries.
3. Add it to a homemade lemonade
As we know, aloe vera has an affiliation with citrus fruits. Thrown into a homemade lemonade, it adds a hint of sophisticated flavour, not to mention a whole host of vitamins and minerals.
Traditional lemonade involves fresh lemon juice, water and an eye-watering amount of sugar. Avoid making your drink unhealthy by substituting in an unrefined sweetener (such as raw honey), using sparkling water, or piling with lots of crushed ice to make a lemonade slushie.
4. Make an aloe jelly
If ice lollies aren’t really your thing, but the nostalgia element appeals, try using aloe juice in a homemade jelly!
As with lemonade, commercial jelly cubes contain some ingredients which aren’t particularly good for you, and sometimes use animal-derived gelatine.
However, did you know you can make a healthy homemade jelly using agar agar?
If you’re not familiar with this brilliant ingredient, now’s the time to add it to your repertoire. It can be used as a vegan subsitiute for gelatine, but it is also a healthier option.
Derived from red algae, it contains folate, magnesium, manganese and iron. (Although, if you’re making a jelly, you probably won’t use enough for it to be a significant dietary source.)
There are plenty of recipes out there online for a whole variety of vegan jellies. However the ratios of ingredients are broadly similar. Use a cup each of your favourite fruit juice and water, add 1 1/2 tsp agar agar powder and bring to the boil for two minutes.
To avoid boiling the aloe juice, which might destroy its nutrients, stir a small amount into the mixture once it’s off the heat. Then simply pour into containers and refrigerate to set.
Sugar-free, nostalgic and healthy to boot; isn’t that the best kind of pudding?
Sourcing your aloe vera
However you choose to eat or drink your aloe vera, you can rest assured that your body will thank you for its unique nutrients.
Remember to source your aloe from a reputable, organic supplier, so you can be sure that no pesticides can make their way into your juice.
Or, take the hard work out of looking for aloe products by choosing our Organic Aloe Vera Juice. If you drink it regularly, go for our 250ml bottle; or, if you like to take it with you to work or the gym, try our handy 40ml shots.
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