Summer Fest: 5 Reasons to Eat More Garlic

by in In Season, September 8, 2010
Pickled Garlic Vegetables
Pickled Garlic Vegetables - Image Courtesy Food Network Magazine

Summer Fest

We’re teaming up with other food and garden bloggers to host Summer Fest 2010, a season-long garden party. Each week we’ll feature favorite garden-to-table recipes and tips to help you enjoy the bounty, whether you’re harvesting your own goodies or buying them fresh from the market. To join in, check out awaytogarden.com.

Garlic may be available at the supermarket year-round, but it does have a season, and we’re in it! So little, but so potent — this nutrient-packed veggie should be in everyone’s pantry. Here are 5 reasons to embrace garlic breath.

Low-cal flavor. Garlic offers tons of flavor with virtually no calories (a clove will set you back about 5 or so), so there’s no reason not to eat it in everything. Okay, maybe we’d shy away from a garlic dessert, but the teeny garlic clove has powerful flavor 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.
  • Pickling garlic with vegetables (pictured above) infuses the pickling liquid (and the veggie pickles) with a subtle garlic flavor.
  • Cooked garlic takes on a sweeter, nuttier flavor. A light saute with olive oil makes for delicious spinach or green beans.
  • Infuse oil with garlic for crisp and flavorful roasted potatoes.
  • Roasted garlic is sweet, with a buttery texture. Use it atop toasted bread, or fold into pasta.
  • Last but not least, try steaming garlic — it gives a wonderful light flavor to fish.

Each clove packs a nutritional punch. Eat garlic to help rack up doses of calcium and B vitamins. You’d have to eat quite a bit in one sitting to get your entire daily values of those nutrients, but little amounts can add up over time.

Help fight the bad stuff. We can’t  attest to its vampire-deterring qualities, but garlic does fight off bacteria, thanks to the phytochemical allicin. In herbal traditions, garlic is considered a wonder drug, used to treat colds or even repel mosquitoes. There’s some mixed evidence that garlic has cholesterol-zapping powers, too.

Long-lasting bulbs. Its use in cooking dates back more than 5,000 years, so consider it a seasoned favorite. It won’t last on your shelves quite that long, but keep bulbs in a cool, dark place in an open or ventilated container for up to three months.  Once the bulb has been separated into cloves, use within 12 days.

Garlic breath. Okay, so not everyone celebrates this, but since it’s the inevitable result of eating more garlic, embrace it! If you decide you do want relief, the results are out on how to cure it — citrus and parsley are said to help, or finish off your garlic-laden meal with a cool mint martini.

TELL US: How do you eat garlic? Let us know here, or join the conversation on twitter at #summerfood.

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