One of the world’s oldest spices, cilantro, dates back to 5,000 BC and is native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions. This famous herb was used in both ancient Greek and Roman cultures, mentioned in the Old Testament and used by early physicians, including Hippocrates, for its medicinal properties.
The leaves of the plant have long been popular in culinary traditions of Latin American, Indian and Chinese cuisine. Medicinally, cilantro has been used in parts of Europe as a defense from diabetes, in India for its anti-inflammatory properties and recently studied in the U.S. for its cholesterol-lowering effects.
Check out the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette recipe at the end.
In fact, recent research suggests that cilantro may help control blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as free radical production. Many of this herb’s healing properties can be attributed to the dense content of phytonutrients in its volatile oil. A 2004 study published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry also suggests that cilantro contains an antibacterial compound that may be a safe, natural defense against Salmonella. This particular compound, called dodecenal, is found in both the seeds and fresh leaves of cilantro, making cilantro an excellent addition to most any meal for flavor and protection.
There are many ways to integrate this aromatic and beneficial herb to your diet and in doing so, here are some tips to help you choose, prepare and store it. Fresh cilantro leaves should have a vibrant deep green color, firm, crisp and free from yellow or brown spots. Highly perishable, fresh cilantro should be wrapped in a damp cloth or paper towel, placed in a container and stored in the refrigerator. You may want to consider freezing cilantro in ice cube trays using water or stock to use when preparing soups and stews. Fresh cilantro is fragile, so it is best to clean it by swishing it around with your hands in a bowl of cold water, dislodging any dirt on it. Empty the water and repeat this process until there is no dirt left in the water.
Use this vinaigrette to toss in salads, marinate fish or chicken or drizzle over cooked asparagus. It’s delicious!
Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
3 1/2 TBS freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp brown rice vinegar
1/4 tsp sea salt
Pinch of cayenne
3/4 tsp ground cumin
3/4 tsp of honey
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
Combine all ingredients and whisk until thoroughly blended
Recipe Credit: The Cancer Fighting Kitchen by Rebecca Katz with Mat Edelson
Image Credit: SOMMAI/shutterstock.com
Resource: The World’s Healthiest Foods. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=701>