Garlic is a member of the lily family and its’ use in the human diet has long been advised for the beneficial health effects. The use of garlic in Asia predates written history. The medicinal effects of garlic are mentioned as early as 1550 B.C. in the Egyptian medical text Codex Ebers, as well as by such renowned thinkers as Aristophanes, Aristotle and Hippocrates. Louis Pasteur noted the anti-bacterial properties of garlic, while other scientists have described anti-fungal and blood cholesterol-lowering effects. Garlic has strong antioxidant activity, and there is evidence of properties that help to stimulate the immune system. While the garlic clove is the focus of much of the plant nutrition research the garlic shoots also have potent nutritional value.
Garlic shoots are the first leaves that emerge from a germinated garlic clove. Recent scientific research identified that the nutrients and antioxidant capacity of garlic shoots is higher than in the garlic clove. Garlic shoots are a good source of Vitamin C, about one-third the amount of an orange, and contain comparable amounts as parsnip, turnip and soybean sprouts. The amount of chlorophyll in garlic shoots is comparable with parsley, celery and spinach. Garlic shoots are also a good source of fiber with amounts comparable to potato, celery, pumpkin and beet. Another recent scientific study provided evidence that compounds in garlic shoots protect against damage to brain cells implicated in degenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Garlic shoots have a mild garlic flavour and are used like chives and green onions. They are wonderful sliced thinly and added to herb butters, stir-fries, salad, mashed potatoes or scrambled eggs. The shoots can be pureed with yogurt, vinegar and oil to make a delicious “green goddess” dressing or marinade. Garlic shoots can be stirred into a rice bowl, soup or fried rice to add fresh garlic flavour. Mix garlic shoots with sour cream and add to tacos or pyrogies, and try including garlic shoots in wraps or burritos.
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