If you’ve never enjoyed the benefits of aloe vera, a succulent with nearly magical healing properties, then you must be lucky enough to never have been sunburned. This fair-skinned lass, on the other hand, knows aloe well. I’ve reached for a bottle of the cool gel every time I’ve been sunburned since I was a child, and it always soothes. More recently, I discovered that aloe also can heal your insides — makes sense, right? In fact, according to my handy Whole Foods Companion, when taken internally* aloe can help with circulation and digestion as well as increase energy and aid in recovery from fatigue. And one of the best ways to get these benefits is by drinking aloe water — sounds like a post-holiday detox to me! (Don’t even pretend you weren’t searching for detox recipes after your New Year’s Eve bonanza.) While you can buy ready-made aloe water at health food stores and in the natural foods aisle of most groceries, you can also make your own aloe water pretty easily. All you need is an aloe plant, some lemon juice and water. So go ahead — make yourself a rejuvenating glass of aloe water and start working on those resolutions. Here’s how it’s done.
Start by removing an aloe leaf from the plant near the base using a sharp knife. No worries about hurting the plant — just like it can heal your skin, aloe heals itself, too.
Now use your knife to split the leaf down the center lengthwise and reveal all those healing juices. To soothe skin, the natural aloe gel can be rubbed directly on, but we’re going to harvest it for the aloe water instead.
Transfer the gel to a container. And when I say gel, I mean it — this stuff is gooey, and you should just know that going into it. I scooped mine from the leaf using a spoon and put it in a cup, but you could also gently scrape it off with your knife. Just be sure to get the clear gel only and not the yellowy pulp. Note: Don’t try to skip this step and use off-the-shelf aloe vera gel unless it’s clearly labeled as edible aloe.
Mix the aloe gel with water and lemon juice using a blender. I didn’t measure out exactly but can estimate that I used a ratio of about 2 tablespoons each of aloe gel and lemon juice to one cup of water. The lemon juice and the high-speed blending helps to cut the gelatinous texture of the aloe. Blend for a minute or more.
Drink up. Easy, huh? You shouldn’t taste much beyond the lemon, though the mixture will have a slightly thicker feel than regular lemon water. If you’re not feeling the plain aloe water, you can also add the aloe to amp up your green smoothies. Now how’s your headache? Happy New Year!
* The Whole Foods Companion also cautions pregnant women and diabetics not to take aloe vera internally, so I wanted to be sure and repeat the warning here.
If you don’t already have an aloe plant of your own, check out some of these beyond-basic aloe varieties. I’m thinking ‘Marco’ is my favorite. Ooh, or maybe ‘Sunset.’ What’s yours?