Garlic: Not Just for Keeping Vampires Away

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If you’ve read through even 3 of my recipes, you probably know I like garlic. I think it’s safe to say I probably consume at least a clove a day. It’s been like that for years. I grew up eating dishes with large amounts of garlic in them and automatically cooked with it when I started experimenting in my own kitchen. Let’s just say if garlic really does repel vampires, I’m safe.

I have to confess, I’ve switched over to buying pre-minced garlic. I noticed I was spending a whole lot of time chopping garlic. I go through the big 32 oz. jar every month. And saving time wherever I can is necessary.

There are actually many types of garlic out there but we’ll focus on the three major types what we have most access to in the United States. There is American garlic, Mexican & Italian garlic and elephant garlic (which isn’t truly a garlic, it’s a relative of the leek).

American garlic has white skin and a strong flavor. Mexican and Italian garlic have a red-purple color skin with a more mild flavor. And elephant garlic is huge, has white skin and the most mild flavor of all three types.

It has low calories and a high nutrient count. I love the flavor of garlic and what it adds to almost everything. But it’s more than just flavor, garlic is actually quite good for you.

Related: Basil - The King of Herbs

Health Benefits

When I was doing my research for this post, I found a ton of studies that have been done on the health benefits of garlic. More than any other ingredient I have researched. As it turns out, garlic’s main use was medicinal throughout ancient history. It’s use was documented by the Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese and Babylonians.

Garlic contains Allicin, a compound that has medicinal properties - and is responsible for it’s aroma. Most of the health benefits are “released” when you chop it or chew it, creating the sulfur compound Allicin.

Allicin enters the body from the digestive tract and travels all over the body, where it exerts its potent biological effects (which we'll get to in a bit).

Garlic contains higher levels of Manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C and Selenium. It also has small amounts of just about everything our bodies need.

Garlic supplements have been known to boost your immune system. Studies showed that those who used daily garlic supplements reduced their number of colds. And those who did get colds had their symptoms reduced.

Other studies found a significant lowering of high blood pressure in people who had garlic supplements.

People with high cholesterol levels may benefit them, too.

Keep in mind that supplements give you a daily dose of around 4 cloves of garlic. Like most vegetables, you get the most nutrients when you consume them raw. It would be difficult to eat that much per day for most people, so supplements could be the answer.

Related: Zucchini - The Poster Child for Versatile Veggies

Buying and Storing

Garlic is available year-round at grocery stores. You want to see that it feels firm and not soft. Avoid it if you see broken skin, mold, sprouts or is shriveled.

Whole bulbs are fresh for about a month as long as they are stored properly. You want them in a cool dry place either uncovered or just loosely covered.You do not have to refrigerate. I don’t recommend freezing as it affects the flavor and texture.

Garlic and tomatoesCooking

To quickly peel garlic, place it on your cutting board, lay your chef’s knife over top of it with the sharp side down and touching the board. The other side should be elevated as the garlic is underneath. Hold the knife in place with one hand and with the other hand hit the knife with your palm. Be careful to not hit the sharp side. You are aiming for the garlic.

You can slice, chop, mince, smash, roast or puree your garlic. When sauteing, make sure you don’t overcook it as it gets very bitter.

Try some of these recipes that celebrate the great flavor only garlic can give us.

Agave Garlic Chicken
Agave Garlic Chicken

Low-Calorie Sunday Sauce
Sunday Sauce

Green Bean Salad
Green Bean Salad

Chicken & Potatoes with Garlic Rosemary Sauce
Chicken & Potatoes in a Garlic Rosemary Sauce


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