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Benson's Gourmet Seasonings Newsletter 

Garlic for Health - Garlic for Flavor 

Hello and Welcome Everyone,

When you are about 7 years old and you over hear the ambulance driver say about your Mother... "Doesn't look like she's gonna make it", (not knowing you are her child), those few words will change your life, forever. When Mom finally comes home and says "No more salt!"  That's it.  No more salt.  She never had another heart attack and was never on any heart or blood pressure medication.  Always had low blood pressure.  She just got up a little earlier (about an hour) to get awake and get going in the mornings. 

I believe this is where my passion for helping people beat the salt habit comes from.  I've been cooking salt free all my life and have learned quite a lot of tips and tricks along the way.

Having good health, especially a good healthy heart, is not just about not doing certain things.  Eliminating salt or at least lowering your sodium intake, is an important first step.  It's also about adding to your diet certain foods that can help your heart.  My first suggestion is to add garlic, especially fresh garlic to your diet. Besides adding flavor, garlic is well known for fighting heart disease and more.  The benefits are huge. My brother Randy used to say..."A clove a day keeps the doctor away, 2 cloves keep the bugs at bay, 3 cloves keeps everybody away."

Dr Perricone lists garlic as his #2 Superfood.  He lists some of garlic's health benefits:

  • Lowers total cholesterol (but raises HDL-"good"- cholesterol)
  • Lessens the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Reduces the risk of blood clots (cause of the majority of strokes and heart attacks)
  • Destroys infection causing viruses and bacteria
  • Reduces risk of certain cancers, in particular, stomach cancers
  • Produces more "natural killer" cells in the blood to fight tumors and infections
  • Helps fight against neurological diseases, such as Alzheimer's
  • Enhances detoxification by reducing toxins

So what is it in garlic that is so good for you?  Garlic has been used medicinally, as well as in cooking for centuries. Many books have been written about garlic. Nicknamed "the stinking rose" it has many health benefits. A member of the lily or Allium family, which also includes onions, leeks and chives, garlic is rich in a variety of powerful sulfur-bearing compounds including thiosulfinates (of which the best known compound is allicin). Recent studies have found allicin to be the magic ingredient creating the most health benefits. Sulfoxides (among which the best known compound is alliin), and dithiins (in which the most researched compound is ajoene). While these compounds are responsible for garlic's well known pungent odor, they are also the source of most of garlic's health benefits.  In addition, garlic is an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C, a good source of selenium and more.

Elephant garlic is larger and has larger cloves, so it is easier to work with.  It is more closely related to the leek and therefore does not offer the full health benefits of regular garlic.

How you purchase, store, prepare and cook garlic, makes a difference in the flavor and the health benefits.

  • Purchase the freshest garlic, as it has the best taste.  Farmer's markets are great for this as they usually have many varieties of hardneck or softneck to experiment with.  The white bulb is the more common American softneck variety found in grocery stores and stronger in flavor.  The garlic that has a bit of purple color is either the Mediterranean (Italian) variety, or from Mexico and is usually a little milder in flavor.  Fresh garlic should feel very firm when pressed in your hand and a bit heavy.  Old garlic begins to get soft and sprout and has a more bitter taste. Always, remove the sprout before your start cooking and you will still have a pretty good tasting garlic. If it is spongy, or feels like nothing is there, throw it out and get fresh.  Fresh garlic is very inexpensive.
  • Store garlic in a cool dry place.  Not in the refrigerator and don't freeze it as freezing deadens the flavor.  Stored properly, fresh garlic will keep a month or more.  Keep the garlic head as whole as possible, with the paper skins.  Just break off the cloves as you need them.  The head of garlic will keep much longer this way.  Mother nature gave it a natural paper wrapper.
  • Prepare the garlic and use it.  Don't chop the garlic too far ahead of time as it starts oxidizing and turning bitter. You may have noticed on most cooking shows, they chop the garlic and it goes directly into the pan.  This is best way for the best flavor.   If you must chop a head of time, cover it with olive oil, so the air won't affect it so quickly.  If you put it into the refrigerator the flavor will becomes flat.  Mince it then use it.  How you chop or prepare the garlic makes a difference in the taste. Remember allicin, that sulfur-bearing compound that makes the pungent smell of garlic?  Well, the more of this compound that gets exposed, the stronger the flavor.  Contrary to what you might think, when you coarsely chop or barely smash the garlic, the larger pieces impart a milder flavor.  There are less of the compounds exposed.  The finer minced garlic, is stronger in flavor, because more of the compounds are exposed.  This is one of the reasons why roasted garlic is so mild because the cloves are left whole.  It is always good to a least smash the garlic a little to break it open and start releasing it's benefits.

I love garlic both for the health benefits and for it's flavor.  You might have noticed, all of the seasonings have garlic in them.  The amounts are different, with Supreme having the most garlic and Table Tasty having the least amount which is none.  Most of our recipes have fresh garlic in them. Some of you may say, "I don't like garlic."  This is up to you, your decision.  I am trying to help you get more flavor into your food without salt and to help you by sharing information for a healthier heart, which affects everything.  Garlic does that.  Finally, something that you can eat that tastes good and is good for you.  How great is that?

A bulb of garlic is called a head or a whole head of garlic. 

Each of the wedges is called a clove of garlic or a garlic clove.

1 clove of garlic = a teaspoon.  3 cloves = a tablespoon.

A roasted head of garlic makes about a tablespoon.

Table Tasty Dip Recipe with Fresh Garlic or Roasted Garlic
Folks on a low sodium diet don't  need to feel left out of the holiday celebrations.
Yes, this is a really tasty salt free dip.  This recipe is in our cookbook
  • 16 ounces Sour Cream, regular, light or nonfat, IMO non-dairy*or Soy based Sour Supreme **
  • 1 or 2 cloves Fresh Garlic, minced, (optional), or a whole head of roasted garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Green Onion, minced
  • 1 tablespoon Fresh Parsley, minced
In bowl stir all ingredients together until well blended. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Stir again before serving. You can also add a little fresh lemon juice, or freshly ground black pepper, or minced red or green jalapenos, or a couple of drops of hot sauce.  
    Serve with unsalted chips, raw, or blanched, cut vegetables or try miniature vegetables. Delicious on a baked potato or drizzled over cooked vegetables.  If you are in a real hurry, just make this quick version:

Quick Table Tasty Dip  Stir Table Tasty into the sour cream and let set a few minutes, stir again and serve. (About 1 - 2 Tablespoons to 1 pint 16 oz. of sour cream)

*There is a newer soy based (non dairy sour cream) by Tofutti called Sour Supreme, available at Trader Joe's

** IMO is a non dairy sour cream available in most supermarkets

In my next newsletter I’ll tell you about an eye opening moment that many of you will relate to.  Plus I'll tell you three ways to roast garlic including my new favorite way.

I hope this information is helpful to you and that you will start including more garlic in your heart healthy diet.

Thank you for subscribing and reading this newsletter.  Share this information with your family and friends.

Click here to read the next newsletter How To Roast Garlic 3 Ways or a list of all the Season-It Newsletters



1-800-325-5619 or 626-969-4443 fax (24 hr) 702-260-4717

Mail:  Benson’s, PO Box 97877, Las Vegas NV  89193-7877

Disclaimer:  This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

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PO Box 97877, Las Vegas, Nevada  89193-7877
1-800-325-5619 or 626-969-4443 Fax 702-260-4717