Good old Summer, how I missed you! I cherish your few months of warm weather, barbecues, beach days, and outdoor adventures. You know what really reminds me of you? Lemonade stands. Who doesn’t like a sip of fresh, ice cold lemonade after a day outdoors?
Sorry, Summer, but I can’t whip up a fresh glass of lemonade in the oven. I can definitely put some lemons into a summertime dessert, though!
How do lemon poppy seed cookies sound to you?
Lemons are an abundant source of Vitamin C. I usually squeeze some juice from a lemon into my water when I feel like I’m coming down with a cold. It seems to help my body get rid of the symptoms. This technique works for me, but it may not be for everyone. Lemons are sour, so adding the juice to beverages might not be pleasant on the palate.
The sour taste of lemons mainly comes from citric acid. Citric acid is sometimes used as a preservative agent in the food industry. This is because citric acid can lower the pH of a food.
The pH is a standard of measurement ranging from 0 to 14. Values between 0 and 7 represent an acid, while values between 7 and 14 represent a base (like baking soda). Water is generally neutral, so it has a pH of 7. Many bacterial species cannot survive in acidic mediums below a pH of 4. Citric acid can prevent spoilage in products by lowering the pH to a level in which bacteria cannot thrive.
Lemons are nature’s bacteria fighters! I even use them to clean my house. Mix plain dish soap into 1 tbsp of baking soda until a paste forms. Slice a lemon in half, and apply some of the baking soda mixture onto the pulp of the lemon. Use the lemon like a sponge, and scrub away the dirt. Your house will never look better!
Another component of lemons is a molecule called citrate, which can be found in lemon juice. Citrate has the ability to bind with calcium in the human body. This action causes calcium to be unavailable for bonding with two other compounds known as oxalate and phosphate. Kidney stone formation can occur when calcium binds with oxalate and phosphate. Therefore, studies have shown that consuming a diluted mixture of lemon juice in water can decrease the risk of kidney stone formation (1).
How cool is that?!
Finally, lemon juice can be used as a meat tenderizer. Acidic ingredients, like lemons, can break down, or denature, the proteins on the surface of the meat, making the meat easier to cut and chew. However, the acid only tenderizes the surface of the meat.
Acidic dairy products, like yogurt and buttermilk, can tenderize the meat completely (2).
Lemons are exceptional fruits, and they smell fantastic too! Let’s pop some into the oven for a summertime dessert.
Lemon Poppy Seed Cookies
- 1/2 cup unrefined coconut oil (softened or melted)
- 1/2 cup honey*
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 1/2 tsp poppy seeds
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice *Note: Please try to source some local honey for this recipe! Standard honey in the grocery store is usually cut with high fructose corn syrup. Crystallized store-brand honey will also do the job, but you have to melt it on the stove top. It will sizzle and explode in the microwave!
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Add the coconut oil to a measuring cup and pour it into a large bowl. Add the honey to the SAME measuring cup. This will prevent any honey from remaining on the measuring cup. Pour the honey into the large bowl.
- Add the egg to the large bowl and whisk well. Then grate 1 Tbsp of lemon zest. Add it to the large bowl. Mix well.
- Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and poppy seeds to the large bowl. Mix well to form the dough.
- Squeeze 3 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice into large mixing bowl. Whisk all the ingredients together.
- Put parchment paper onto two baking sheets. Place a heaping Tbsp of batter onto the baking sheet to form a cookie. Repeat this step until there is no better left in the bowl. Make sure there is adequate space between each cookie, as they will flatten in the oven.
- Put the cookies in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown near the edges. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes.
This is a simple summer treat filled with bursts of flavor. These cookies are slightly reminiscent of the tops of muffins because they are so soft and decadent. This texture is caused by the moisture content of the honey.
Offer these poolside at a summer BBQ, and you are sure to be the hit of the party!
1. “Dietary Prevention of Kidney Stones.” Kidneystoners.org. Accessed 22 July 2014. Available at http://www.kidneystoners.org/prevention/dietary-prevention/
2. Magee, E. “The Magic of Marinades.” WebMD. Accessed 22 July 2014. Available at http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/the-magic-of-marinades
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