Flavor Exploration: Garlic

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Here at Food and Health, the Nutrition Month fun doesn't stop! We're here today with the next great flavor exploration. In case you missed the previous installments, so far we have offered new ways to Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right by using healthful foods as flavor boosters. These include...

Today's edition brings us back to the savory side with one of the most famous flavor-boosters around: garlic.

We'll talk about garlic's history, health benefits, and flavor-boosting ability. You will also find links for tons of recipes that you can use to explore the taste of garlic. Plus, there's a free garlic recipe handout at the bottom of this post!

Today's Featured Flavor: Garlic

A dash of garlic really peps up this pasta salad.Garlic is a truly amazing food. It was used by ancient Egyptians, then later in China, before it eventually spread westward. Did you know that the Greeks and Romans relied on it for over 2,000 years? In fact, when people in ancient Greece and Rome got married, many of the women carried bouquets of garlic instead of bouquets of flowers!

Garlic is a member of the onion family, and the way that you slice it makes a difference in its flavor profile. Whole garlic cloves are mellower than sliced garlic cloves, and minced garlic has a stronger flavor than both of those. Just be sure to use it soon after you slice it -- after it's cut, garlic's flavor can start to deteriorate.

Garlic is available in a whole bunch of different forms. You can get whole garlic, garlic cloves, pre-minced garlic, garlic oil, granulated garlic, and even garlic powder. Each variation has a great use in the kitchen -- experiment with different recipes and find your favorites!

Garlic and Your Health:

Garlic's health-boosting properties are well documented.

Who can say no to broccoli potato soup?

According to the National Cancer Institute, "Several population studies show an association between increased intake of garlic and reduced risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the stomach, colon, esophagus, pancreas, and breast." In terms of colorectal and stomach cancers, the reduction in cancer risk increased alongside garlic consumption, which means that the more garlic people ate, the lower their risk for stomach and colorectal cancers.

Garlic also has cholesterol-lowering properties. According to the article, Cholesterol-Lowering Effect of Garlic Extracts and Organosulfur Compounds: Human and Animal Studies, "In a recent randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled intervention study, we showed that aged garlic extract (AGE) supplementation was effective in lowering plasma concentration of total cholesterol by 7% and LDL cholesterol by 10% in hypercholesterolemic men compared with subjects consuming a placebo." In other words, the study indicates that the use of garlic can reduce both total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.

Don't you want some of this curry cashew chicken?There are still other ways that garlic is good for your heart. In the study, Effects of Allium Sativum (Garlic) on Systolic and Diastolic Blood Pressure in Patients with Essential Hypertension, researchers found a reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure among people with hypertension who began eating garlic.

Furthermore, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, "Preliminary research suggests that taking garlic may slow the development of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), a condition that can lead to heart disease or stroke."

So, whether you are looking to decrease your cancer risk or boost your heart health, garlic is a good food to have around.

Garlic as a Flavor Booster:

In addition to all its health benefits, garlic is also a flavor-boosting powerhouse. Its pungent spice makes it welcome in anything from garlic bread to stir-fries. When whole cloves are roasted, garlic offers a mellow, buttery flavor that is the perfect addition to mashed potatoes (or just spread some on a toasted baguette). Diced garlic, on the other hand, offers more of a punch. Raw garlic is much sharper in flavor than cooked garlic.

With this much flavor and this many health benefits, adding garlic to dishes is a wonderful way to Enjoy the Taste of Eating Right.

So, Want to Add Garlic to Your Favorite Recipes? Here Are 3 Easy Ways...

1. Use A Tube: This garlic paste tastes fresh and is ready to squeeze.

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2. Grab a Jar: Granulated or powdered garlic are pantry staples that can help you add a bit of garlic flavor to any dish, any time. We have found that granulated garlic tastes better than powdered garlic. (In some cases, powdered garlic can impart a bitter aftertaste). If you're super keen on using garlic powder, consider trying a version that has some dried parsley in it too. A few of our favorites are pictured below.

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3. Fresh from the Clove: Cloves of garlic offer the freshest, brightest garlic flavor. Don't let them intimidate you -- it's actually easy to remove that pesky peel. Simply smash the clove with the side of a knife, as pictured below. Once it's smashed, you can dice, slice, or mince it.

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Oh, and just as a bonus, here is a Lemon Pepper Garlic Mix that you can make yourself! Simply combine dried lemon peel, white pepper, and granulated garlic in equal proportions.

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Use this seasoning mix to flavor grilled vegetables, salads, soups, rice, and pasta dishes. It also goes well with grilled chicken or fish.

Now, as you can probably tell, here at Food and Health, we are huge fans of garlic. That's why our free recipe database boasts over 380 recipes that feature garlic in some shape or form. Whether you're looking for a quick soup or a bright salad, we've got the recipes for you. There's even a handy-dandy printable recipe handout (it's free) at the bottom of this post.

Some of our favorite recipes that feature garlic include...

This quick and easy pasta can't be beat!

This post is brought to you by the Nutrition Education Store. Get the materials you need for your Nutrition Month celebrations (and beyond) without wasting time or money. The most popular educational resources are featured below...

Basic Nutrition Poster Set
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And here it is, the moment of truth! Here's a free handout that will walk your clients through preparing garlic mashed potatoes. Enjoy!

Download this handout today!

*Don't worry, we use it sparingly and focus on the flavanols!

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