By Lynne Evans
Garlic is one of my favourite tastes and I have a habit of putting it in every main meal I cook. It is extremely good for us as it boosts the immune system, so helping in autumn and winter to keep colds and flu at bay. It is also good for the blood and circulation. It improves digestion too. It is high in vitamins B6 and C (great for the immune system), and contains several minerals including magnesium, potassium and calcium (which we need for healthy bones), phosphorous, iron and copper. Garlic also contains essential oils, glucose and fructose.
You can peel garlic cloves easily if you press the blade of a knife or the heel of your hand onto a garlic clove, the skin will come off without much bother. I use a blender to mince cloves of garlic, but a garlic press (or crusher) is fine, although sometimes tricky to clean.
The Italians say that you don’t need to cook garlic when you are using onions, but this is not the case if you are making a curry for example. The trick to cooking garlic so that it doesn’t burn is either to cook it in a pan over a moderate heat for a mere 30 seconds, or to add it last when you are frying other vegetables.
If you have never tried whole roasted garlic, give it a whirl! All you have to do is drizzle the whole bulb of garlic with olive oil and season with freshly ground black pepper (and salt if you use it), wrap it in silver (aluminium foil) and cook it in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for between thirty and forty minutes. It’s good served with beef or lamb, but serve it with your favourite dish. When it is cooked you just squeeze the bottom of the bulb and the garlic will come out, peeled.
Although there are times when the cloves are beginning to sprout, you can still cook them if you snip off the green shoots. It doesn’t affect the taste very much, although if it has sprouted too much, the cloves are far from fresh.
Have you ever tried fresh, or wet, garlic? This is sometimes available in summer and is wonderful if roasted (only for 25 minutes).
Some interesting facts about garlic are that it was used in World War I to prevent infection and as an antiseptic for wounds.
Garlic is certainly good for us, but if you want to cleanse your breath after eating a lot of it, you should chew parsley! Why not rustle up a meal with garlic in it now and try to stave off those colds.
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