The Wonders of Garlic

IMG_9769Garlic is by far one of my favorite ingredients, no matter what I am making 98% of the time it will include fresh garlic. Not only is it delicious but also there are many amazing health benefits that come along with the versatile vegetable (as strange as it sounds garlic is best categorized as a vegetable even though most of the time you hear it referred to as an herb). Some benefits of garlic include: lowering blood pressure, boosting your immune system, improving cholesterol thus helping prevent heart disease.   Garlic contains antioxidants that help the body protects itself against oxidative damage, this in combination with aiding in reducing cholesterol and blood pressure may help prevent brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia!

It is even shown that garlic can reduce the symptoms of cold and flu and shorten the duration. This is just a small number of health benefits, there are still several other studies on going about helping recovery time of workouts and several other theories. I do have to now add a disclaimer, to receive max health benefits of garlic, it is best to consume it in the raw form. You will however still gain benefits cooking with it, especially if you are like me and use it in excess.

One delicious way to eat garlic raw is to get about a half cup of olive oil and press about four cloves into it, next add spices and herbs like oregano, thyme, onion powder, black pepper, and salt. Add about ½ tsp. of each and serve with bread.

To crush or to press?? That is the next question. It is highly debated whether crushing garlic with the blade of a knife or pressing it in a garlic press is the best option. Some people even get quite heated about the debate! I say both are correct, it just depends on what your recipe is. For things like dipping oil, pressing is by far the better option. This is because if you have large chunks of raw garlic it can be quite spicy and overwhelming and also will not mix into your oil thoroughly. When cooking something like steak for example crushing is the better option. This is because if you add finely minced garlic to a hot skillet it will burn up almost instantly. Sauces are also a good option for pressing, this way the garlic will be distributed evenly. Also, I should note that when I press my garlic I first remove the other peel and press it after I press the clove I add all of the remaining garlic in the press, this way none is wasted. One of the arguments against a press is that you only get a mushy pulp out of a press and waste a large part of the clove….hints why I always add the rest.

Let’s not forget my all time favorite way to eat garlic…roasting it!! Super simple to do and really delicious. I use a terracotta garlic roaster, you can get one for $20-$30, if you don’t have one don’t worry aluminum foil is easy and works great. Start by cutting off the top of the head of garlic, place it in a small square of foil, and drizzle about a half-tablespoon of olive oil so it runs into the garlic. Next, wrap the foil around the head and place in your preheated 425-degree oven. In no time you will smell the lovely aroma of garlic, it takes about 45-60 minutes to cook. The best way to tell if it is done is when the outer shell of garlic turns a light brown the cloves start to push their way out.  I use roasted garlic in my potato soup, flatbread pizzas, and I also make butter spread with it. I use the spread on several things like Philly cheese steak sandwiches. My husband loves when I make that spread because that means if there are any bread scraps left he can use them to clean the bowl.

You do have to be careful in a few instances when cooking with garlic, for example, cooking in a slow cooker. If you are cooking in a slow cooker for several hours I wait until about halfway through the cooking time to add garlic, this is because it can overcook and lose flavor. Same goes for things you are baking in the oven at a high heat for long periods of time, I typically ad it also halfway through cooking if I am baking in an iron skillet to prevent burning.

 

Regardless of how you use garlic, you will be happy you made the decision to add it. If you have any questions feel free to ask, I am by no means an expert but I will lend you my experience!

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