How To Make a Medicine Cabinet in a Bowl – The Key to Beating Winter Illness
Garlic (Allium sativum), is a bold member of the lily family and a kissing cousin to onions, leeks and chives. It’s been historically used by many cultures since ancient times as a flavoring 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 around the globe. Garlic is a spice that can always be counted on to turn a blah meal into a pungent, tasty and healthy culinary experience.
Did you know Trader Joe’s stopped selling Chinese garlic back in April 2008. Pressure from customers concerned about the safety of Chinese garlic prompted them to make the decision. Here’s the original Trader Joe’s announcement: “Garlic, frozen organic spinach and other “single ingredient” food items from mainland China will be phased out by April 1,  although products that include ingredients from both China and other sources will remain.”
Strolling through the produce section of most supermarkets you’ll soon find a display with bins or baskets of fresh garlic cloves. But, did you know that a large percentage of conventional garlic in the USA is probably from China? China leads the world in garlic production and exports, followed by South Korea (2nd), India (3rd), the United States (4th), Egypt (5th), and Spain (6th). In fact, in 2012, China produced 59 million metric tons of garlic annually, or about 66 percent of total world production.
The problem is that imported garlic has likely been in cold storage for some time before arriving in USA grocery stores. Worse yet, it’s likely been treated with some sort of toxic chemical or irradiated to inhibit sprouting and to top it off has probably been sprayed with methyl bromide, which according to the EPA is a highly toxic substance that is also proven to be 45 times more effective at destroying the ozone layer than chlorine.
The good news is that methyl bromide is gradually being phased out of agriculture: The terms of the Montreal Protocol. While U.S. growers phased out methyl bromide for most uses by 2005, farmers in developing countries, such as China and Mexico, have an extra 10 years (until 2015) to do so.
And did you know 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 it 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 odor. 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.
According to Dr. Joseph Mercola:
“It is important to note that the garlic MUST be fresh. The active ingredient is destroyed within one hour of smashing 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.
Food is the BEST Medicine: 52 Clove Garlic Soup
Note: This soup recipe incorporates all the above recommended methods of maximizing garlic’s health benefits, and it’s delicious!
26 garlic cloves (unpeeled)
2 tablespoons genuine olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) organic butter (grass fed)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 heaping teaspoon turmeric
1/2 cup fresh ginger
2 1/4 cups sliced onions
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
26 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup raw, organic pastured milk or coconut milk (homemade is best) or your favorite substitute
3 1/2 cups organic vegetable broth
4 lemon wedges
Preheat oven to 350F. Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish. Add 2 tablespoons genuine olive oil, sprinkle with real 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 organic, pastured butter 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.
Smash 12 of the 26 peeled garlic cloves and set aside.
Now immediately add the 14 remaining peeled, smashed garlic cloves 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 almond milk or substitute and bring to simmer.
Lastly, add the 12 smashed peeled 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.
Garnish each serving of soup with chopped, fresh cilantro (preferably organic).