Cilantro for Your Health by Judi Singleton

Cilantro For Your Health

By: Judi Singleton

Cilantro - pronounced [sih-LAHN-troh] The leaves and stems of Coriander plant are called Cilantro. Widely used in Mexican, Caribbean and Asian cooking Cilantro has a strong pungent taste. People usually just love the taste or hate it because it is that distinctive flavor.

Coriander is believed to be named after "koris", the Greek word for "bedbug" as it was said they both emitted a similar odor. People of European decent frequently are repelled by the smell of cilantro. It has not gained in popularity in Europe as it has in many other parts of the world.

Coriander grows wild in South East Europe and had been cultivated in Egypt, India and China for thousands of years. It is mentioned in Sanskrit text Cilantro is mentioned in the Medical Papyrus of Thebes written in 1552 B.C. and is one of the plants which grew in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It is even mentioned in the Bible in Exodus 16:31, where manna is described as "small round and white like coriander seed."

The ancient Hebrews originally used cilantro root as the bitter herb in the symbolic Passover meal.The Romans themselves used coriander with cumin and vinegar as a preservative. Romans and their conquests, introduced cilantro's use and legend spread to Asia, where it appeared in recipes for potions used as aphrodisiacs in China during the Han dynasty (207 BC-200 AD).

Spanish conquistadors introduced it to Mexico and Peru, It is used in recipes throughout Mexico and Central America. Sugarplums as referred to in the Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy, were actually a treat made of sugar coated coriander.

The Chinese used the herb in love potions believing it provided immortality. Coriander is one of the herbs thought to have aphrodisiac qualities. The Arabian nights tells a tale of a merchant who had been childless for 40 years and but was cured by a concoction that included coriander.

Cilantro was also know to be used as an "appetite" stimulant. The essential oils of the cilantro leaves contain antibacterial properties and can be used as a fungicide. Coriander seeds is considered to have cholesterol lowering properties.

Today the herb has important medical uses. Chelation therapy has been used by conventional medicine to pull lead from people suffering from lead poisoning. Chelation therapy is administered intravenously using the chemical agent EDTA it removes metal from the blood stream. Dr Omura found that fresh cilantro removes heavy metals from the body in less than two weeks.

Cilantro, is a fast growing annual reaching 12 - 24 inches tall. The entire plant including the leaves, the seeds and roots are all edible. Coriander can easily be grown in pots. Simply pick or trim fresh leaves of whole stalks as required. The leaves get a stronger and sometimes disagreeable flavor as they get older and larger.

Some great recipes using Cilantro are: From Mexico and Southwestern USA

Anaheim Chile Salsa Verde

This recipe originally accompanied Grill-Roasted Brined Turkey with Anaheim Chile Salsa Verde. This beautiful, mild-flavored green salsa may be served heated or at room temperature. For the brightest green color possible, add the cilantro just before serving.

  • 6 fresh green Anaheim chiles (about ¾ pound)
  • ¾ pound fresh tomatillos or 1-¼ cups drained canned tomatillos (about half of a 28-ounce can)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup packed fresh cilantro sprigs

Preheat broiler. Arrange chiles on rack of a broiler pan and broil about 2 inches from heat, turning them frequently, until skins are blistered and charred, 8 to 12 minutes. (Alternatively, if using a gas stove, lay chiles on their sides on racks of burners and turn flames on high. Char chiles, turning them with tongs, until skins are blackened, 3 to 6 minutes.) Transfer chiles to a bowl and let stand, covered, until cool enough to handle.

Wearing rubber gloves, peel chiles. Cut off tops and discard seeds and ribs.

Remove husks from fresh tomatillos and rinse tomatillos under warm water to remove stickiness. In a saucepan, simmer tomatillos, broth, and garlic until tomatillos are tender, about 10 minutes if using fresh tomatillos and about 5 minutes if using canned. Add chiles to tomatillo mixture.

Cool salsa slightly and in a blender pulse until coarsely chopped (use caution when blending hot liquids). Salsa may be made up to this point 2 days ahead and cooled, uncovered, before being chilled, covered. Bring salsa to room temperature or reheat before proceeding.

Just before serving, in blender pulse salsa with cilantro until cilantro is finely chopped (use caution when blending if salsa is heated) and season with salt.

From Asia this one is wonderful:

Lemon Grass Roasted Chicken

A last minute basting with lemon grass and a cliantro paste gives this dish a zesty aroma and flavour.

  • 1/2 cup finely chopped lemon grass (3 or 4 fresh stalks)
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp. dried chile flakes
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 4 1/2 tsp. fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 chicken (2 to 4 lbs)
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil

In a large glass bowl combine all but 2 tbsp. of the lemon grass with shallots, garlic, chile flakes, soy sauce, sugar, fish sauce, and salt.

Add the chicken, turn it to coat it in the marinade, and put some marinade beneath the skin.

Pour any excess marinade into the cavity. Marinate at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

Bring to room temperature before cooking. Preheat oven to 350°F. Put the chicken, breast side down, on a rack in a roasting pan. Roast the chicken for 40 minutes. Turn it over and roast until nicely browned, 20 to 30 minutes.

About ten minutes before the chicken is done, combine the remaining 2 tbsp lemon grass sith the cilantro and vegetable oil, and baste the chicken with the mixture.

The chicken is done when the juices run clear. Let stand for 10 minutes before carving.

About The Author If you like this article then read Judi's blog Herbal Harvest that is updated weekly.

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