Garlic (Allium sativum), is a member of the lily family and cousin to onions, leeks and chives. It’s been historically used by many cultures since ancient times as a flavouring agent in cooking and as a potent medicine to prevent and treat a wide range of serious health conditions and diseases.
Although garlic is considered by most to be a spice or an herb; it’s actually a small vegetable. Nevertheless, it’s primarily used as a spice, by skilled cooks in many cultures. Garlic is a spice that can always be counted on to turn a blah meal into a pungent, tasty and healthy culinary experience.
Irradiated Garlic: AVOID
Did you know that most imported fresh fruits, vegetables, some processed foods and even meats have been (*gasp*) – irradiated! Which means its been exposed to radiation. According to the Safe Food News, Fall 1994 issue:
“China has been exporting irradiated garlic.
Irradiation is the process of exposing raw and/or processed food to ionizing radiation, which claims to kill disease and pathogens and extend the shelf-life by altering a plant’s (clove’s) ability to sprout. This would be a marketing advantage and one reason the big U.S. producers were trying to prohibit the garlic imports.”
Unfortunately, the FDA has approved irradiation of foods in the USA as well. Your best choice for garlic is local and organic because: it offers garlic’s full array of health benefits, its non-toxic and tastes better than chemically-treated garlic.
Health Benefits of Organic Garlic
The primary health benefits of garlic are due to a sulfur compound known as allicin, which also gives garlic its pungent odour. A mere one milligram of allicin is nearly 15x as potent as penicillin.
The compound offers a broad spectrum of protection against pathogenic bacteria, viruses, parasites, antibiotic resistant MRSA, yeast infections, and is one of many amazing cancer-fighting foods.
Garlic contains 33 active sulfur-containing substances. When ingested, allicin converts to sulfenic acid, which is the fastest acting free radical eliminator bar none. Recently, the University of Florida found eating garlic increased the number of virus fighting T-cells in the bloodstream.
Savvy health experts increasingly promote eating whole foods as a foundational healing method as opposed to taking supplements, especially when it comes to garlic. Eating fresh, raw garlic is by far the best way to ensure garlic’s numerous health benefits. The very best way to eat garlic for health purposes is to first press a fresh clove with a garlic press, or chop it, or smash it with the back of a knife. Then wait about 5 minutes or so before consuming.
This ritual activates the potent, medicinal allicin in garlic.
NOTE: If you buy powdered, granulated, or jarred minced garlic you will not experience the full spectrum of medicinal benefits that garlic offers.
Garlic is More Powerful When Crushed
“It is important to note that the garlic MUST be fresh. The active ingredient is destroyed within one hour of crushing the garlic. Garlic pills are virtually worthless and should not be used.
When you use the garlic it will be important to compress the garlic with a spoon prior to swallowing it if you are not going to juice it. If you swallow the clove intact you will not convert the allicin to its active ingredient.”
However, there are two other schools of thought regarding the best way to prepare garlic for health purposes. Argentinian researchers discovered garlic releases allicin when you bake the cloves, while other scientists advise peeling garlic and letting it sit uncovered for 15 minutes to release garlic’s full medicinal potential.
Medicine Cabinet in a Bowl
If you’re a garlic lover like myself, then you’re going to love this recipe. It is deliciously creamy and the roasted garlic really enhances the flavor.
For the recipe, I used a low-sodium vegetable broth powder mixed with 3 1/2 cups of water. You can use whatever vegetable broth liquid or powder you have on hand. I personally cannot handle high amounts of salt in my food, so I always opt for low or no salt varieties.
This recipe is extra creamy when you use a full-fat coconut milk, but you can also opt for a lower fat version, or use another plant-based milk instead. Keeping it plant-based will keep viruses at bay, and also help to clear out the sinuses.
52 Clove Garlic Soup (Medicine Cabinet in a Bowl)
This soup recipe incorporates all the above recommended methods of maximizing garlic’s health benefits, and it’s delicious!
- 26 cloves garlic, unpeeled
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1/4 cup coconut oil
- 1/2 tsp. cayenne powder
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- 1/2 cup fresh ginger
- 2 1/4 cups onion, diced
- 1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
- 26 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 3 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth
- 4 lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 350F. Place 26 (unpeeled) garlic cloves in a small glass baking dish. Add 2 tbsp. of the coconut oil, sprinkle with sea salt and toss to coat. Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake until garlic is golden brown and tender, about 45 minutes. After cooling, squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves. Transfer cloves to small bowl.
Melt another 2 tbsp. of coconut oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions, thyme, ginger, turmeric, cayenne powder and cook until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes or so.
Split the 26 peeled garlic cloves into portions of 12 and 14 and crushed them. Set aside the 12 crushed garlic.
Now add the 14 peeled, crushed garlic cloves and the sliced onion, to the roasted garlic and cook for about 3 minutes.
Next add vegetable broth; cover and simmer until garlic is very tender, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in blender until smooth. Return soup to saucepan; add coconut milk or substitute and bring to simmer.
Lastly, add the 12 crushed garlic cloves ( that were set aside) to the pureed soup and stir. Don’t forget to season with a good quality sea salt and lots of fresh ground pepper.
Finish with a squeeze of the juice from 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve hot.