Garlic isn’t just a food, it is most certainly a legend in its own right.
Garlic has been found in the pyramids of Egypt and it is even referenced in the Bible. Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, prescribed it regularly, and it was given to the first Olympic athletes in Ancient Greece to enhance performance.
Garlic has more powers that you know.
Modern research confirms what ancient healers and herbalists intuitively knew: that garlic is a potent weapon in the battle against disease. A 1999 study by S. Ankri and D. Mirelman shows that a compound within garlic calledallicin is responsible for garlic’s antimicrobial, antiviral, and antiparasitic activity. It’s also been shown to combat drug-resistant strains of E. coli and could potentially battle some superbugs that are resistant to antibiotics.
Allicin isn’t actually in garlic. A compound, alliin, and an enzyme, alliinase are part of the cells in a garlic clove. These two are kept separate, however, when those cell walls are ruptured, they meet and form the all-powerful and mighty allicin.
So when you’re cooking at home, you want to be sure to rupture those cell walls in those garlic cloves using your preferred method. But don’t just toss that minced allium sativum into your pot or pan. Turns out heat neutralizes the health-giving benefits of allicin.
A 2001 study by K. Song and J.A. Milner showed that heating, microwaving, or boiling crushed garlic destroyed all the alliinase enzyme activity within it. However, most dishes call for cooked garlic rather than raw. Try adding it to the dish after you finish cooking it whenever possible.
In order to preserve some of allicin’s healing properties, many scientists suggest crushing, or dicing your garlic, then letting it stand for ten minutes to let the alliinase do its work and form as much allicin as possible before it’s neutralized by heat. So the next time you’re cooking, be sure to mince your garlic first thing, then let it stand. By the time you’re done getting the rest of your ingredients ready, those crushed cloves will have a lot of allicin moving around in their cells.
In order to preserve that precious healing allicin it’s best to consume garlic raw. Here are some ways to work garlic into your diet without destroying the allicin with heat.
Homemade Salsa: In winter I take home canned tomatoes and add tons of raw garlic and onions – a winter pantry staple. Drizzled with some olive oil, I serve this with anything – Mexican food or otherwise – and it’s a big hit at our dinner table.
Ranch (or other) Salad Dressing: I almost always add minced raw garlic to salad dressings. Our favorite is a homemade ranch made with kefir, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley. Garlic is also great in a homemade vinaigrette.
Lacto-Fermented: Raw garlic has that spicy bite that some find hard to get down. When you lacto-ferment the garlic in a salt brine the cloves are mellowed and beneficial enzymes and bacteria are added – a win-win!
On Buttered Toast: Garlic, butter, and toast are best friends. You can toast up a slice of bread, butter it generously, and sprinkle raw minced garlic on top as a super garlic toast.
Guacamole: The fat in avocados seems to cry out for a sharp contrast in the form of spicy peppers or pungent garlic. So be generous and throw a few cloves into your guacamole.
Stirred Into Cooled Pasta Sauce: We love the flavor of garlic as well as the health properties. So if I made a tomato sauce to go with some homemade noodles I add a handful of cloves to the sauce as it cooks. Then, once it is dished up and has had a chance to cool for a minute, I add some more minced garlic to our plates and stir it in for extra flavor and nutrition.
Added to Mashed Potatoes: Again, garlic + butter + potatoes is just delicious. Make up your potatoes with butter and milk and plop them on your plates. Once cooled for a few minutes you can add some minced garlic to spice them up.
Garlic-Honey-Lemon Tea: For the uninitiated this sounds crazy and gross. But having grown up on honey and lemon tea for any sore throat, I can tell you the addition of the garlic in this recipe is strangely delicious and really good for you as well.
Blended Into a Hot Sauce: The whole reason for the above list is to somehow sneak in the spicy pungency of garlic. Well, how about embracing it alongside some peppers for a killer hot sauce. Just throw some peppers, seeded for a more mild sauce, garlic, olive oil, and salt into a blender with a bit of vinegar. Once blended it will be awesome with beans, tacos, quesadillas, chips, enchiladas, or pretty much anything else you’re eating.
A spoon full of honey helps the medicine go down: My husband can eat just about anything it seems and straight up garlic is no exception. If you are brave like him you can chew a whole clove and swallow, followed by some milk or water. Or you can mask the flavor by covering your garlic with some raw honey and then throwing it down the hatch. Chop a clove or two and sprinkle onto a spoon full of honey, it’s not bad and really hits the spot when you’re sick.
Dips : One of my favorite ways to use raw garlic is in a dip. Just whip it up with some chickpeas or white beans to get a creamy hummus. here’s a great garlicky hummus recipe. You can also use garlic in salsa and sauces. A little chopped garlic mixed with avocado adds flavor and tastes great.
Salads : Ah yes, just chop fresh garlic and use in a salad dressing or just mixed with salad. Here a great salad recipe using fresh garlic and here’s another one. Both use crushed raw garlic in their salad dressing.
The Trick to Using Garlic in Soup: The way to use fresh garlic here is to smash or chop garlic and toss it in after the soup is done. Heat will reduce the efficacy of the magic compound ” allicin” a little, but since you’re not really cooking the garlic it will still be effective. Here’s a great recipe for a super garlicky soup. Just add the garlic in the end. The same rule applies to stir fry and other dishes that you want to add garlic to. Add it at the end of cooking to get maximum benefits. After some time it will become a habit.
Juice it : Juicing it with other fruits and veggies is a great way to consume raw garlic. You won’t even taste it.
Raw garlic shot : For those brave souls who can chop garlic and chug it down, just remember to take it with some fat like olive oil or coconut oil. The oil will protect your stomach and improve absorption of the compound. Taking raw garlic on am empty stomach will upset the stomach. Swallowing whole garlic is easier, however to get the maximum healing benefits, crush garlic before chugging it down. I’ve tried it with orange juice and it tastes pretty good.