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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle

National Garlic Month

Get ready to make your kitchen smell as we celebrate National Garlic Month in April. Depending on your feelings, this will either be a welcomed smell or an overpowering odor.

One of the most common seasonings used in cooking, garlic adds a unique flavor to a variety of savory dishes, often in small amounts. Learn more about garlic below.

  • Garlic is a member of the onion family.
  • 1 fresh garlic clove equals 1 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt).
  • Because relatively little garlic is used per recipe in cooking, we do not get much nutritional value from garlic, such as calories or carbohydrate. Garlic does have some calories and nutrients like carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals, but garlic is not considered a good source of these in our diets because we mostly use it in small amounts.
  • Some research suggests that eating garlic in cooking promotes heart health and may have anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Cutting or crushing garlic allows healthful organosulfide compounds to develop. Waiting 10-15 minutes before adding the cut garlic to a recipe may allow those compounds to better withstand cooking. Among other properties, organosulfide compounds have been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Garlic is available year-round in stores, but you will find garlic available locally during summer months. Or learn to grow your own using WEB HIGHLIGHT 1 below.

  • Buy: Choose whole heads of garlic that are firm, with smooth white to tan skin. Skin may have a slight purple or pink color as well. If buying jars of pre-minced garlic or garlic powder, check any dates on the package for the freshest product.
  • Price: Prices on garlic will vary with season and store location, but heads of garlic will generally be cheaper than jars of minced garlic or garlic powder for the amount you get. However, use what you are comfortable with based on your recipes and budget.
  • Store: Unpeeled heads and cloves of garlic can be stored at room temperature and may last a few weeks. Discard any garlic that has begun to mold or soften. Store garlic powder in a cool dry area away from moisture to prevent clumping, and discard when it no longer has the smell of garlic. Follow storage guidelines on the package for jars of minced garlic; they usually need to be refrigerated after opening.
  • Prepare: To mince a garlic clove or to roast an entire head, watch the video directions in WEB HIGHLIGHT 2 below.  Or get help from equipment like a garlic press or small food processor.
  • Eat: Raw garlic pairs well with foods when garlic is not the main flavor, such as when used in salsa or hummus. When cooked, garlic has a less stringent flavor that works well in a variety of dishes, including stir-fries, soups and stews, and side dishes.

Reference: North Dakota State University Extension, From Farm to Table: Garlic
Reference: Linus Pauling Institute, Garlic and Organosulfur Compounds
Reference: US Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Research Service, National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Make use of garlic in all your savory dishes for added health benefits and unmatched flavor. Try this main dish featuring garlic.

Garlic Chicken Spaghetti (serves 6)

Garlic in two forms – fresh and powdered – adds noticeable but not overwhelming garlic flavor to this easy main dish. Pair with berries and a green salad or other vegetable for a complete meal.

8 oz whole-wheat spaghetti
2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not oil-packed)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 8-oz container mushrooms, washed and sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp dried basil
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp crushed red pepper, optional
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Cook spaghetti according to package directions, without added salt or fat.
2. In a plastic bag, combine flour and garlic powder. Add chicken and shake to coat. Shake off excess coating from chicken.
3. In a large skillet over medium heat, sauté half of chicken in 1 Tbsp oil until no longer pink, stirring frequently. (Flour coating may stick to pan.) Remove to a clean plate and repeat with remaining 1 Tbsp oil and remaining chicken.
4. Meanwhile, chop tomatoes into bit-sized pieces and place in a small heat-safe bowl. Add boiling water and let stand 5 minutes. Drain off any remaining liquid.
5. Add all chicken to pan along with mushrooms, garlic, broth, parsley, basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper, if desired. Continue cooking until mushrooms begin to shrink and broth thickens into a light sauce.
6. Stir in the tomatoes and heat through, about 2-3 minutes.
7. Add cooked spaghetti and cheese and toss to coat.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 340 calories, 9g fat, 550mg sodium, 40g carbohydrate, 7g fiber, 27g protein

WEB HIGHLIGHT 1: Want to grow your own? Learn more from the Planting Garlic article from the UI Extension website Gardener's Corner.

WEB HIGHLIGHT 2: Watch this video for instructions on "How to Peel and Roast Garlic" from What's Cookin' with Mary Liz. Mary Liz is a fellow Extension Educator.

PROGRAM HIGHLIGHT: Register today for "The Secrets in the Seasoning" class with Kirby's Kitchen. This cooking class will focus on flavoring food using different seasonings – no salt needed!

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