Garlic is a species of the onion family, related to shallots, leeks, chives and onions. It has been around for culinary and medicinal uses for thousands of years. In it’s raw form it is pungent and hot, in cooking it is not quite as strong and can tend to be sweeter in taste.
Garlic is a healthy addition to your daily nutrition arsenal. I use garlic pretty well every day in my food preparation. It adds depth to recipes and has many nutritional benefits too.
The garlic bulb contains “allicin” which is the valued sulphur compound giving garlic it’s health promoting label. Garlic has a unique combination of flavonoids and sulfur containing nutrients and should be used in your nutrition arsenal on a daily basis. Garlic has been given kudos in keeping our blood pressure in check. Garlic is beneficial to our cardiovascular health. Garlic helps keep cholesterol levels in the good range if eaten on a regular basis. Garlic helps keep inflammation and oxidative stress low in the body too. Garlic helps to prevent blood clotting in our blood vessels and arteries. Garlic is high in antioxidants such as selenium and helps with the glutathione production in the liver. Glutathione is the king of antioxidants. Garlic is also antibacterial and antiviral. Garlic also has anti-cancer properties. Wow….all of this from that little bulb.
In the standard grocery store you will find the larger elephant garlic which is made up of a few large cloves and is a milder version. The common garlic has smaller cloves and is definitely stronger. If you visit a farmer’s market you will likely find different varieties of garlic and even garlic scrapes which are great to add to recipes. You will also find garlic diced or minced in oil sold in glass jars. This is convenient, no doubt, but the garlic has lost it’s nutritional punch when stored in this fashion. There is nothing better than fresh garlic buds peeled and prepared as needed. Most people stay away from fresh garlic as it can be tedious trying to peel it. What I do to make fresh garlic easier to work with is take the flat side of my large vegetable knife and smash the garlic bulbs one at a time on the cutting board with the flat side of the knife. The peel comes off really easy this way and then using fresh garlic each day is not such a daunting task. Give that a try.
I often take a whole garlic bulb fully intact and remove the outer bit of papery skin as will easily come off. I then cut a small bit of the top of the bulb off, place it on foil, add a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and a little bit of Himalayan salt, wrap the foil around the bulb and place it in a 375 degree oven for one hour. The end result is a roasted garlic bulb which easily slides out of it’s peel. This roasted garlic is so good smeared on bread or used in recipes such as pizza topping, added to mashed potatoes, added to mayo to make a garlic aioli, added to rice dishes or veggie dishes. The possibilities are endless.
Start buying fresh, firm to the touch garlic from your local market and start adding it to your daily nutrition roster. The benefits are vast.