“Let your food be your medicine, let your medicine be your food”, Hippocrates.
Garlic (Allium sativum), is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world and has been grown for over 5000 years. In ancient Greece we find garlic mentioned in Aristotle’s writings, who mentions that it was used as a tonic but also as a laxative. He also mentions that when there was a new moon, people would leave offerings which would include things like bread, garlic, eggs, and cheese to the kthonian goddess Hekate (Ekati), the Queen of the Underworld.
Garlic was found during the archaeological excavations of the Palace of Knossos (Bronze Age era).
The ancient Greeks ate a lot of garlic and used to call it “The Stinky Rose”. Ancient Greek athletes competing in the earliest Olympic games did not turn to steroids to enhance their performance, but to garlic.
Greek soldiers were fed garlic before going into battle, to give them courage and increase the odds of victory.
Hippocrates is considered the father of medicine and is the greatest healer that ever lived. He knew 2500 years ago that it was a miraculous, ideal food which was super-nutritious but also a medicine. He prescribed garlic to fight infections, for protecting the skin, he used garlic vapors to treat cervical cancer, he recommended garlic as a remedy for toothache or as a diuretic but also for many other illnesses.
In modern medicine, garlic has many active components that contribute to its health benefits, one of the primary being allicin, which is the compound responsible for the herb’s pungent aroma and is formed when it is crushed and exposed to air. To obtain the maximum benefit, it must be consumed raw.
Cooked garlic loses its antibiotic property but still retains a lot of its health benefits.
Some of its health promoting properties of garlic include:
- It is a super anti-oxidant and it prevents certain types of cancers, including prostate, skin, esophagus, and stomach cancer.
- It helps regulate blood sugar metabolism, stimulate and detoxify the liver, and stimulate the nervous system and blood circulation.
- It thins the blood as effectively as aspirin.
- It lowers cholesterol.
- It prevents hardening of the arteries by relaxing them and helps prevent calcium from binding with other substances that lodge themselves in plaque that can block blood vessels.
I remember when I was younger I would hate garlic and how it smelled and rarely used it in my recipes. However, as years passed, I have grown to love it, although I still continue not to use too much when using it raw, as now my children don’t like it.
If you are also one of those people who hate the smell of raw garlic, you should try roasting it before using it, as by roasting it, it mellows and brings out the sweetness of garlic and it will boost flavor and nutrition in all sorts of dishes without it’s awful smell, adding a smoky or roasted flavor to the intended recipe. Roasting garlic will help boost intensity and a depth of flavor into your dishes that is really quite amazing. Because garlic has so many health benefits such as lowering cholesterol, preventing cancers, and much more, it’s also a great way to include more garlic into your healthy lifestyle.
To save on energy, roast garlic one day when you are baking another dish.
How to use roasted garlic:
Any dish having raw garlic can be substituted with roasted garlic or in addition to raw garlic, substitute some of it with roasted garlic.
If you totally hate garlic and never use it, try using roasted garlic and gradually increase the amount used.
When I roast and preserve garlic, I always use extra virgin olive oil, so I end up having garlic-infused olive oil which is deeply flavorful. I keep it in the fridge, and use it in many recipes.
How to roast Garlic Heads
- 1 Garlic Bulb
- 3 – 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp coarse Sea Salt
- About 1/2 cup Extra virgin olive oil
- Crushed peppercorns
- Preheat the oven to 180° c/ 350°F.
- Cut the top of the garlic bulb off. Loosen any of the outer layers of skin.
- Place garlic on foil and cut off about 1 cm from the top. Drizzle a couple teaspoons of olive oil over each head and sprinkle with salt.
- Wrap the garlic in foil loosely.
- Bake for about 45 – 50 minutes until tender and the cloves feel soft when pressed by hand or stick a cocktail stick or knife in it to see if it’s tender.
- When it can be handled, squeeze garlic from skin.
- Place in a clean, sterilized jar and lightly mash with fork to flavour olive oil or leave the cloves whole. Add salt and crushed peppercorns and extra virgin olive oil to fill the jar. Store it in the refrigerator.
- Each time removing some garlic and olive oil make sure that it is replaced and covered with more olive oil.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,