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Enhancing Flavor with Aromatics

garlicAromatics are vegetables that deliver flavor and aroma when heated or crushed. They are commonly used worldwide, from French mirepoix and Italian soffritto to Indian and Thai curry dishes. Not only are they a great replacement for fat, sugar, and salt, each adds a different essence to cooking and each offers different health benefits.

Bell Peppers – One red bell pepper delivers a day’s worth of vitamins A and C and is only 30 calories. They come in a range of colors and are a great choice for healthy skin and immune function. Bell peppers can be eaten raw or added to dishes such as stir-fry.

Carrots –  Beta carotene, which helps regulate the immune system and may reduce risk for certain diseases of aging, is released for better absorption when carrots are cooked. Carrots are also a good source of fiber, vitamins C and B6 and potassium.

Celery – Celery is great eaten raw as a crunchy snack or cooked to release its savory flavor. Celery has only 15 calories per cup and is a source of vitamins A, C and K, as well as potassium. It also provides the flavonoid quercetin, which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and heart-protecting properties.

Chili Peppers – Chili peppers get their spicy flavor from the chemical compound capsaicin, which may improve digestion. While chili peppers range from mild to fiery hot, smaller peppers are generally hotter.  For a boost of vitamins A and C, add peppers like jalapeño or poblano to salsas, sauces, and entrees.

Garlic – The most pungent of the alliums, garlic’s rich phytochemicals deliver its cholesterol-lowering and cancer fighting characteristics. Eating garlic regularly may reduce atherosclerosis and the risk of stomach, colorectal and prostate cancers.

Ginger – Native to Southeast Asia and India, ginger is often combined with garlic and chili peppers. This combination is sometimes referred to as the holy trinity of flavor. 6-gingerol is believed to be responsible for reducing nausea and symptoms of vertigo.

Leeks – In addition to providing vitamins A and C, folate and manganese, leeks are also a natural source of inulin, which supports good gut bacteria. With a mild onion flavor, leeks are best cooked.

Onions – Like leeks, onions are also a source of inulin, vitamin C, manganese, fiber and folate. Additionally, onions have high concentrations of allyl sulfides that may help fight heart disease and cancer. Sweet onions can be enjoyed raw in salads and the strong ones in stews, sauces or grilled.

Parsnips – Parsnips where traditionally used in Europe to sweeten desserts before sugar became widely available. They are available year-round, but are sweetest after a frost, and smaller roots are the most flavorful and tender. Parsnips are a good source of vitamin C, folate and fiber. To bring out their natural sweetness, roast and caramelize them.

Scallions – Scallions, also called spring or green onions, provide fiber, potassium and vitamin A. These alliums have a sweet, delicate onion flavor.

Shallots – With a flavor between onion and garlic, shallots can be cooked whole, oven roasted, or finely chopped to season salad dressings. They were traditionally used to flavor French sauces and are a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese

Tips for using aromatics

  • Use fresh aromatics for the best flavor and texture
  • To make weeknight meals easier, chop and store aromatics ahead of time.
  • Chop vegetables for even cooking, especially in quick cooking dishes. Hearty ones, like carrots, may require a smaller chop to soften at the same rate as onions.
  • Handle hot peppers carefully and wash your hands before touching your face.
  • Sauté or sweat vegetables in a small amount of juice, broth, or water. To sweat vegetables, cook them in a tightly covered pot, which allows them to soften without browning.

 

Aromatics Salad

This salad boasts big flavor while keeping calories light. It is high in fiber, as well as vitamins A and C. Carrot, celery, and scallions also offer a boost of potassium.

1 container organic spring greens

1/3 to 1/2 container arugula micro greens

1 tart green apple, cored and thinly sliced

1/3 cup carrots, shredded or julienned

2 stalks celery, chopped

1 red bell pepper, julienned

2 to 3 scallions, chopped

2 ounces Clawson Stilton cheese

4-6 tablespoons Garlic Expressions Classic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

 

All you have to do is toss the ingredients together and serve. Makes four servings

 

Each serving contains:

Calories 168
Carbohydrate 9.5 gm
Fat 12 gm
Protein 5 gm
Sodium 212 mg

 

 

Moore, M. (2013, March/April). Exploring Aromatics. Food and Nutrition Magazine, 16-18.

Parks, B. (2012) Aromatics: An Alternative to Fat, Sugar, and Salt. 2012. Retrieved from http://www.goerie.com/article/2013305139986.

Peterson, J. The First Step to Great Flavor. Retrieved from http://www.finecooking.com/articles/first-step-great-flavor.aspx

Allyl Sulfides. Retrieved from http://www.bellybytes.com/nourish/allyl_sulfides.html#.UZ0dTW4o5Ms

Terry, S. (2010, June 30) What is Quercetin? Retrieved from http://www.livestrong.com/article/157030-what-is-quercetin/

(2007) All About Allium Vegetables. Retrieved from http://www.thevegetariansite.com/health_allium.htm

Eok-Cheon Kim, Jeong-Ki Min, Tae-Yoon Kim, Shin-Jeong Lee, Hyun-Ok Yang, Sanghwa Han, Young-Myeong Kim, Young-Guen Kwon, [6]-Gingerol, a pungent ingredient of ginger, inhibits angiogenesis in vitro and in vivo, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Volume 335, Issue 2, 23 September 2005, Pages 300-308, ISSN 0006-291X, 10.1016/j.bbrc.2005.07.076.

(http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0006291X05014543)

 

Image courtesy of Praisaeng/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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