The Power of Garlic by Dana Angelo White in Healthy Tips, April 19, 2009
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So little, but so potent — this veggie should be in everyone’s pantry. Find out why it’s so good for you.
This little bulb is a member of the lily family and a close relative to the onion and leek. Its use in cooking dates back more than 5,000 years so consider it a seasoned (and seasoning) favorite. In herbal traditions, garlic is considered a wonder drug — used to treat colds or even repel mosquitoes.
One clove of garlic has less than 5 calories and contains calcium and B vitamins. You’d have to eat quite a bit in one sitting to get adequate amounts of those nutrients, but little amounts can add up over time. Garlic also has antibacterial properties thanks to the phytochemical allicin. There’s some mixed evidence that garlic has cholesterol-lowering powers, too. Research is limited at this point, but it’s not bad news so you can always enjoy and hope for the best. (Check out this article to learn more.)
Cooking with Garlic
For something so small, a clove of garlic packs a powerful flavor punch that changes with various cooking methods. Raw garlic has a pungent, spicy taste that’s great for salad dressings, dipping sauces and marinades for meat, fish, chicken or vegetables.
Cooked garlic takes on a sweeter, nuttier flavor. A light sauté with olive oil makes for delicious spinach or green beans. Or infuse oil with garlic for crisp and flavorful roasted potatoes. I add roasted garlic to toasted bread as a spread or into pasta. (My brother-in-law just eats roasted cloves whole!) Last but not least, try steaming garlic — it gives a wonderful light flavor to fish.
Check your local farmers’ market for garlic scapes; these are the tender green shoots that come from a growing bulb. They have a milder flavor that’s perfect for eggs, salads and pesto sauce.
Shopping Tip: Choose heads of garlic that are tight and firm. Store in a cool, dark place for 8 weeks to 3 months; once the bulb has been broken up into cloves, use it within a week to ten days.
- Recipes to try:
- Whole Roasted Garlic
- Penne with Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and White Beans
- Garlic Fries
- String Beans with Garlic
- Ginger-Garlic Fish in Parchment