The Power of Garlic

February 16, 2016

Garlic is one of those amazing ingredients that can fit into almost any meal plan (paleo, vegan, etc.) while providing delicious flavor AND nutrients! It can be used in Mexican, Italian, Asian, and American foods and works well in most savory dishes. It’s one of the few ingredients I ALWAYS have in the house even if I don’t know what I’m making for the week.

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What makes garlic so special?
Garlic is an herb from the Allium group (onion). It contains allicin or rather, the two separate compounds that mix to create allicin. I recently learned from this informative article that alliin and allinase must mix via chopping or crushing cloves of garlic to create allicin.

So what’s so great about allicin? Allicin produces sulfenic acid in the body when digested that reacts with free radicals faster than any other compound. This means it helps prevent cancer, high cholesterol, heart attacks, and strokes. I cook with it because it’s delicious but I also make tea or broth with it when I have a cold to help it pass quicker. According to this article from the Huffington Post, it’s important to make sure you let garlic sit after being crushed or minced for about 10 minutes to allow the amazing health properties to get going.

Fresh garlic is the best garlic.
When I first began venturing out of my narrow Top Ramen and Hamburger Helper routine, I bought what others called “Cheater Garlic.” This is the cut up garlic in jars in the produce section of the grocery store. It was inexpensive enough and lasted forever!

Unfortunately, stuff that lasts for a long time should rouse suspicions and for good reason. After some research, I learned that salt and other unnecessary preservatives are added to cheater garlic. The garlic loses some of its amazing properties and might even be bleached to give it a more uniform look. Plus allicin has a short half-life meaning it’s almost gone an hour after it’s cut or crushed.

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No thank you.

So I only purchase fresh garlic now. I find it weirdly therapeutic to mince garlic in front of the TV or while listening to a book. Something about the slow food movement and starting with a whole ingredient is very satisfying to me.

A friend of ours purchased a garlic press for us as a wedding gift and I am not sure how I survived this long without one. As much as I enjoy mincing garlic, it’s nice to be able to get the same effect in about five seconds.

Whether you crush it or mince it, garlic can help improve our health in many ways while adding flavor and punch to almost any savory dish you are whipping up. These are the main reasons I consider garlic a staple and always have it on hand in The Teensy Kitchen.

Here are some of my favorite garlic recipes:

Mini Cottage Pies

MiniCottagePie

Chicken and Veggie Quinoa Casserole

Chicken Broccoli Quinoa Casserolemg_4536

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Or simply steep a clove or two of crushed garlic in hot water or chicken broth to help fight off common colds or the flu.

What’s your favorite way to use garlic?

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