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The Goods: Garlic

Jackie Shank, MS, RD

It’s claimed this pungent bulb in the lily family wards off demons and keeps your heart healthy.
What’s the truth about garlic?

Myth: Using fresh garlic is too much trouble to bother with.Cloves of Garlic  Myth or Fact

Fact: Nothing beats fresh garlic! First, don’t confuse a garlic bulb with a clove. You’ll be purchasing a single bulb (or several), and each bulb contains 10-20 individual cloves. Remove the papery skin and chop or mince. The finer the chop, the stronger the taste. Also, garlic added at the end of cooking will give a stronger taste than garlic added earlier.

Myth: Garlic keeps vampires, werewolves, and evil spirits at bay.

Fact: Probably not, but years ago people believed this partly because of garlic’s potent medicinal properties. Modern science has showcased garlic’s ability to fight infections and destroy harmful bacteria. And although the science is not conclusive, research shows promise for garlic’s capacity to lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and to thwart pre-cancerous lesions. Allicin is the natural chemical in garlic most responsible for the healing properties and pungent, sulfury flavor, and it becomes more available for the body’s use when garlic is chopped or crushed.

Myth: There is no remedy for garlic breath.

Fact: The browning enzymes in fruits and vegetables most prone to surface browning – apples, bananas, potatoes, and mushrooms – can transform those stinky garlic molecules lingering in your mouth into odorless bliss. So eating an apple or banana will help. Mouthwashes that contain chloramines may help as well.

Myth: Avoid handling garlic because your hands will smell bad throughout the day.

Fact: Try this trick after handling garlic: Rinse your hands in cool water and rub them along something stainless steel for 30 seconds - a sink is ideal, but a knife or spoon will also work. It seems the sulfur compounds in the garlic bind with the metals in the stainless steel and “lift” the garlic off of your fingers.

Myth: Garlic should be stored in the refrigerator.

Fact: Store garlic in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Refrigerated storage diminishes the beloved garlicky flavor, and encourages more generic onion flavors. Also, refrigerated garlic is more prone to mold growth. Special “garlic keeper” pots are available in which to store whole bulbs and unused cloves to maximize storage life.

Jackie's BIO

Jackie Shank, MS, RD, LD/N, is the undergraduate nutrition program director in the Department of Nutrition & Dietetics at the University of North Florida. The department has about 250 students, both undergraduate and graduate, plus eight full-time faculty and several adjunct instructors. Areas of faculty research include obesity prevention, metabolic syndrome, cultural food patterns, nutrition education in underserved populations, HIV/AIDS, and eating disorders.

A Great Chicken Garlic Reciepe

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

This classic dish is French comfort food at its simple and satisfying best.
2 (3-pound) whole chickens
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
40 garlic cloves, peeled
1¼ cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
24 (¼ inch-thick) slices diagonally cut French bread baguette
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Remove and discard giblets and neck from chickens. Rinse chickens with cold water; pat dry. Trim excess fat; remove skin. Cut each chicken into 8 pieces. Combine butter and oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over chicken. Add half of chicken pieces to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken.

Reduce heat to medium. Add garlic; cook 1 minute or until garlic begins to brown, stirring frequently. Arrange chicken on top of garlic. Add broth and wine; cover and cook 25 minutes or until chicken is done.

Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Increase heat to medium-high; cook 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup. Serve sauce and garlic with chicken and bread. Garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

Yield: 8 servings (serving size: about 4 ounces chicken, 2 tablespoons sauce, 5 garlic cloves, and 3 bread slices)

Note: In a pinch, you can substitute six pounds of chicken pieces. The garlic softens in flavor as it roasts and is easy to spread over the baguette slices. Serve with steamed vegetables or salad.

Nutrition facts per serving: 343 calories, 13.7gms total fat (3.6gms saturated fat), 2gms fiber, 111mgs cholesterol, 2.3mgs iron, 468mgs sodium.

Source: Recipe adapted from Cooking Light, June 2005


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