Before you eat anything, take a moment to be present. Breath deeply a few times, let your breath out slowly, and pause to be grateful, giving thanks for the nutrients and the energy you are about to receive from the food. While eating, chew slowly and mindfully, being aware of the flavors and textures. These simple exercises will GREATLY enhance the benefits of your food.
The use of coriander, also called cilantro can be traced back to 5,000 BC, making it one of the world’s oldest spices. It is native to the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern regions and has been known in Asian countries for thousands of years. Coriander was cultivated in ancient Egypt and given mention in the Old Testament. It was used as a spice in both Greek and Roman cultures, the latter using it to preserve meats and flavor breads. The early physicians, including Hippocrates, used coriander for its medicinal properties, including as an aromatic stimulant.
Cilantro is used in may Mexican and Spanish dishes. It is the basis for many salsa’s. It’s unmistakable aroma gives cilantro its distinct flavor. The herb has a fragrant flavor that is reminiscent of both citrus peel and sage.
In addition to the wonderful flavor comes amazing health benefits of cilantro.
- Protects against Salmonella. The leaves and the seeds contain Dodecanese (and 8 other antibiotic compounds), a compound twice as effective as gentamicin, an antibiotic used to kill Salmonella.
- Is a good source of fiber
- Is a good source of calcium
- Helps bind to heavy metals in your body
- Is a great anti-inflammitory herb
- Rich in magnesium, iron.
- Rich in phytonutrients (carvone, geraniol, limonene, borneol, camphor, elemol, and linalool), flavonoids (quercitin, kaempferol, rhamnetin, and epigenin), and active phenolic acid compounds (caffeic and chlorogenic acid).
- Lowers blood sugar by stimulating insulin production
- Relieves intestinal gas, and prevents nausea
- Prevents urinary infections, the oils in the leaves are antimicrobial
- Lowers LDL(bad cholesterol) and raises your HDL(good cholesterol)
- Reduces menstrual cramping and hormonal mood swings
- Coriander seeds are not a commonly allergenic food and are not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines.
- Reduces the amount of damaged fats (lipid peroxides) in their cell membranes.
Fresh coriander (or cilantro) leaves should look vibrantly fresh and be deep green in color. They should be firm, crisp and free from yellow or brown spots. Ideally buy locally grown organic to assure that it has not been irradiated (most food brought into this country has been irradiated).
Since it is highly perishable, fresh coriander should always be stored in the refrigerator. If possible, store with its roots still attached by placing the roots in a glass of water and covering the leaves with a loosely fitting plastic bag. If the roots have been removed, wrap the coriander leaves in a damp cloth or paper towel and place them in a plastic bag. Whole coriander will last up to one week, while coriander leaves will last about three days.
Cilantro may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers, yet should not be thawed before use since it will lose much of its crisp texture. Alternatively, you can place it in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews.
Tips for Preparing Coriander
Fresh coriander (cilantro) should be washed right before using since it is highly fragile. The best way to clean coriander is just like you would spinach by placing it in a bowl of cold water and swishing it around with your hands. This will allow any sand or dirt to dislodge. Remove the leaves from the water, empty the bowl, refill it with clean water, and repeat this process until there is no dirt remaining in the water.
Coriander seeds can be easily ground with a mortar and pestle. You may wish to first soak them in cold water for ten minutes and then drain them, as this process will revive their fragrant aroma.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- In a saucepan over low heat, combine vanilla soymilk, honey, coriander and cinnamon for a delicious beverage.
- Healthy sauté spinach, fresh garlic and coriander seeds, mix in garbanzo beans, and season with ginger and cumin.
- Add cilantro or coriander seeds to soups and broths.
- Use cilantro leaves or coriander seeds in the poaching liquid when preparing fish.
- Adding cilantro leaves or ground coriander to pancake and waffle mixes will give them a Middle Eastern flavor.
- Put coriander seeds in a pepper mill and keep on the dinner table so that you and your family can use them at any time.
- Include fresh coriander in juiced and blended drinks
- 2 medium organic heirloom tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion or chives
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons lime juice (or more to taste)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 ripe avocados, peeled, seeded and cubed
- 1 jalapeño cleaned and chopped (leave in 1 seed if you want it hot)
Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper and jalapeño in a medium bowl; mix well. Add the avocado and mix, mashing the avocado slightly. Place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the dip. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with chips or in a lettuce wrap. (leave an avocado pit in the center to minimize browning)
For a creamier texture, puree 1/2 the mixture in a food processor and mix all together.