by Allison Mignery, Registered Licensed Dietitian
Garlic is a vegetable in the plant family with leeks, scallions, onions and chives. Garlic is arranged in a head, called the “bulb,” consisting of numerous small separate cloves.
Garlic's Health Benefits
I’d like to harp on this super-food and its health benefits.
Garlic has a characteristically pungent odor, yet it is guaranteed to transform any meal into a bold, aromatic and healthy culinary experience. The compounds that are responsible for garlic's characteristically pungent odor are also the source of many of its health-promoting effects. Numerous studies have demonstrated potential benefits of regular garlic consumption on lowering:
- blood pressure
- platelet aggregation
- serum triglyceride level
- cholesterol levels
In addition, garlic is an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of vitamin B6 and C, and a good source of selenium.
Ways to Enjoy Garlic
When it comes to cooking with garlic, there are many ways to enjoy this food. In general with garlic, the finer you chop it, the stronger the taste. Crushed garlic has the strongest taste of all. When cooked whole, garlic has a much milder, rather sweet taste.
Roasting whole garlic slowly in the oven causes garlic to lose its sharp bite, and it turns remarkably soft and mellow. Try roasted garlic mashed into potatoes, blended into store-bought hummus, or simply spread on crusty bread and drizzled with olive oil. Beyond delicious roasted garlic, I also urge you to try this healthy recipe for Garlic Spinach Soup.
Makes 6-8 servings
- 3 heads garlic
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon salt
Preheat oven to 400°. Remove any loose skin from the garlic heads and cut a 1/4-inch slice off the tops, exposing the tips of the cloves. Set the garlic heads cut side up on a sheet of aluminum foil and sprinkle with the olive oil and salt. Wrap the heads in the foil and roast until tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool before peeling. Cover roasted garlic with olive oil in an airtight container.
Garlic Spinach Soup
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
- 1 cup chopped zucchini
- 1 cup chopped carrots
- 2 cups cubed cooked chicken
- 1 (2 ounce) package cellophane noodles (Chinese vermicelli)
- 4 cups fresh spinach
Bring the chicken broth, garlic and ginger to a boil in a large saucepan; reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes. Add zucchini and carrots and cook until zucchini is tender, about 10 minutes more. Stir in chicken and cellophane noodles; cook until the chicken is hot and the noodles are soft and transparent, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spinach until wilted.
Nutrient Analysis: (recipe makes 8, 1-cup servings) Calories: 107, Total Fat: 3g, Cholesterol: 29mg, Sodium: 606mg, Total Carbohydrate: 8.4g, Dietary Fiber: 0.6g, Protein: 10.9g