In our written series of Yoga Yummies we will venture, with a light-hearted manner, to highlight the magic of chosen power foods, their consumption and origins – and, importantly, how they can invigorate us, bring energy and joy into our daily living while helping us to enliven our yoga routines.
Gorgeous garlic – the origins
Garlic, Allium sativum, belongs to the onion genus together with for example onions and leeks and has an aromatic, strongly scented bulb beneath its paper-like surface layers. It has mythical qualities as a vampire repellent, whereas some believe it grows on devil’s footprints – whether it can indeed ward vampires or not has to remain as an empirically unconfirmed utilization of this potent plant, but it can act as a non-harmful repellent for example in your summer cabin against mice and acts as a natural preservative of fish and meat.
It is said that the Greek goddess Hecate, associated with fire and sorcery, ate garlic as supper. Buddhists believe for garlic to invigorate the senses, potentially inflicting desire and acting as an aphrodisiac, thus excessive consumption be avoided. From the dawn of time it has been used for medicinal purposes, and still acts as a natural remedy against cold, owing to its strong component, allicin, that has antibacterial qualities and boosts the immune system. The origins of garlic date back seven millenniums, into ancient Babylonia and China, also reportedly found from Tutankhamen’s tomb.
If, by some chance, you happen to roam the wild onTurkmenistan or somewhere in the North America, you will find garlic and its close cousins growing in the wild. Nowadays it is mainly cultivated in China, with nearly 80 percent of global garlic production, while in smaller scale but still notably grown in India, the U.S., Russia and Egypt.
Gorgeous garlic – the vitamin essence and controversy
Due to its antifungial and antibiotic qualities, garlic is a powerful remedy and was used as an antiseptic during World War II. Our glorious garlic has high concentrations of vitamin B and C, helping to boost metabolism and mood, with an additionally good amount of selenium, which can act as a cellular anti-aging agent.
The consumption of fresh, potent garlic can also help in reducing systolic blood pressure and can moderately lower bad cholesterol over a period of time, as suggested for example by Ellen Tattelman’s research Health Effects of Garlic from 2005. There are several studies supporting this claim, if some that suggest the result as inconclusive too. In any case, for all the garlic lovers out there, it is in place to also present a fair word of warning: albeit the wondrous qualities of garlic the great, excessive consumption may also lead to negative effects due to its powerful compound.
Thus, healthy moderation is key. In any case, consuming fresh and organic garlic as a part of a vegetable-conquering diet can only and primarily be for the best of yogic you. Garlic releases its powerful allicin upon crushing, and is at it most potent stage as a young glove!
Gorgeous garlic – grow your own, choose & store
Garlic is best stored in a warm and dry place in its original form with the top attached, peeled gloves are best kept in the fridge – when soft and moldy upon peeling, well, time to toss. Upon choosing your glorious garlic, pick the ones that are white, firm and dry. Grow garlic by planting the gloves into a sandy ground, bearing in mind that it thrives in dry climates. The optimal planting time is during the early spring.
Gorgeous garlic – eat & enjoy!
To avoid the reputation as a smelly yogi due to halitosis following generous garlic consumption, try pairing your it with dairy products. Garlic is an essential cuisine component in many countries and cultures – try adding crushed garlic into freshly squished tomatoes, paired with fresh basil, to create an excellent Italian-style pasta sauce, or add peeled gloves into olive oil to create a pungent salad spice. A great addition in Asian vegetable woks, and does wonders in cold yoghurt sauce with fish. Grand garlic, bring in your fiercest flavor!
Did You Know? Asafoetida, with a taste and aroma reminiscent of sautéed onion and garlic is used especially by the merchant caste of the Hindus and by adherents of Jainism and Vaishnavism, particularly in Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra, who do not eat onions or garlic. It is used in many vegetarian and lentil dishes to add both flavor and aroma as well as to reduce flatulence. It is however one of the pungent vegetables generally avoided by Buddhist vegetarians. (Source: Wikipedia). Yummy recipe with Asafoetida: