One of my favourite ingredients
‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’ Hippocrates
I am sharing one my favourite ingredients and why I feel it has contributed to my health and well being despite having type 1 diabetes for over 50 years. I don’t think one particular ingredient keeps us healthy, rather a combination of different ones that work together to keep all parts of the body functioning well.
- Garlic produces a chemical called Allicin, which gives garlic its antibacterial and antifungal properties. It’s anti-bacterial properties help to keep my immune system healthy. I get fewer colds and flu in recent years and I think this is due to me focusing on eating healthy food and making sure to eat garlic and other nutritious foods most days. Having diabetes for a long time usually results in slower healing which is a nuisance for colds and small cuts but can be very dangerous for more serious injuries or illness. My healing power is definitely better than it has ever been and only slightly slower than my non-diabetic husband. I don’t have any other way of making a comparison.
- Garlic can help reduce bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL). People with diabetes are at a higher risk of cardiovascular issues and it is very important to keep cholesterol and blood pressure in range. Anything as simple as eating garlic is an easy win.
- There is a lot of focus on gut health at the moment. Garlic helps to prevent inflammation in all areas of the body including the the gut. It also helps to kill bad bacteria and feed good bacterial in the gut.
- Some of garlics beneficial properties are reduced by cooking. That said. I eat very little raw garlic. I don’t want my friends to move to the other side of the room when we meet! Chewing parsley or lemon peel is thought to reduce ‘garlic breath’, but unless someone tells me I stink of garlic or I notice people backing away I’m not bothered.
- Eating plenty of vegetables including garlic helps prevent or at least minimise the impact of colds and flu. Illness plays havoc with my blood sugar, so as well as feeling horrible from colds and flu having high blood sugar makes things worse. “An ounce of prevention is better than a cure”.
- Garlic contains sulphur which is essential for healthy skin. This together with its anti-bacterial properties helps keep skin in good condition. Sorry, it won’t keep wrinkle away, but it does help to keep skin healthy and cuts, grazes, spots, not to mention all the finger pricks, injection prods and canualla sites heal a little quicker.
How I use garlic:
- Garlic, onion and peppers are the base for lots of our meals. Saute sliced or chopped onion first, add the diced pepper and cook for about 8 minutes and lastly add the chopped or crushed garlic. This can be a base for stews, bolognese, lasagna, omelettes or risottos.
- Baked garlic is a firm favourite. Slice an unpeeled garlic bulb in half, across the middle. Rub a little olive oil on the cut sides and bake at 200°C for about 40 minutes. Wrap them in tin foil or bake in a covered dish if you want a soft texture but I usually don’t bother covering them.
- Christmas dinner wouldn’t be the same without garlic potatoes. I use lots of garlic so we get benefit from all the calories!
- A lighter version of garlic potato is to boil peeled potato and chopped garlic. Drain when cooked and whiz them with a good knob of butter with an electric whisk until velvety.
- Another version is to roast some sliced regular or sweet potato or even butternut squash (lowest carb) in olive oil and add some sliced garlic half way through the cooking. Rubbing the baking tin with a cut clove of garlic before use will add to the flavour.
- Sauteed garlic, red onion and rosemary or thyme add nutrition and flavour to mushrooms.
- Salad dressing made with olive oil, lemon/lime juice, minced fresh garlic and balsamic vinegar.