[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I'll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I've recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days. For this fifth edition, I'm focusing on cilantro. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. This is the first entry on cilantro.]
[Pure emerald deliciousness, spooned here on a Brown Rice Veggie Burger]
The other day, the HH and I were discussing the possibility of taking a short trip to Boston to visit my cousin CBC. “That would be so much fun,” I blurted out spontaneously, “I’ve got a couple of friends in Boston!” When he asked whom, I stammered, “Well, blog friends.”
Before I started blogging, I couldn’t have fathomed how one could consider a virtual (no pun intended) stranger to be a “friend.” Yet it’s true–I feel as if I’ve made friends in cities across the continent and even around the world through this l’il blog, and my contact with them is often more consistent and frequent than it is with my “local,” live friends.
Well, thanks to my blog reader, cookbook tester, and friend Courtney, I came home last week to a package that contained these:
Don’t you just love receiving gifts in the mail? The GardenSac bags (on which the card and brown rice are resting) are made from 100% cotton and can be used for any kind of shopping. And, as Courtney and I discussed, they’re terrific because the open weave allows you to easily see what’s inside. With most stores here in the Toronto area recently switching to “pay-for-plastic” policies (and some offer credit if you bring your own reusable bags), this is a perfect, and very timely, gift! And I don’t know how Courtney guessed, but I love wild rice. I’ve already made a wonderful Confetti Salad with it–which I’ll blog about anon. Thanks again, Courtney!
And as if last week wasn’t already great enough, I found out that I’ll be presenting two recipe demos from Sweet Freedom (one on Saturday and another on Sunday) at the upcoming Vegetarian Food Fair in September! Billing itself as “North America’s largest annual vegetarian festival,” and with stellar keynote speakers like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (author of The Joy of Vegan Baking and The Vegan Table) and Brenda Davis (co-author of Becoming Vegetarian and Becoming Vegan), the Fair promises to be another spectacular event this year. It’s scheduled between September 11 and 13 at Toronto’s Harbourfront. Come on out and say “hi”!
Whew! And now, time for some zingy, spicy, nutritious and delectable food!
Having grown up on a farm, my dad must have felt a strong affinity for the earth, because even after working six days a week and keeping incredibly long hours, he always grew a garden in summer. Granted, it was a fairly small garden; still, growing up my sisters and I were regularly graced with fresh tomatoes in August, plus the occasional cucumber, red pepper, or propitious esculent each season.
One year, he decided to try out sunflowers. Why sunflowers? Beats me. Maybe he thought they were pretty (come to think of it, if their wallpaper choices are any indication, my parents did lean toward all things floral). I remember being astonished at how tall the stalks grew, capped with golden saucers that towered over my own eight year-old frame, and how the actual seeds filled the center of the scalloped disk, encased in their rigid black shells. When summer ended, we roasted the seeds in the oven, and my sisters and I continued to snack on them through Hallowe’en (at which point they were unceremoniously chucked in favor of candy, of course).
Remember the Jack Nicholson-Morgan Freeman groaner, The Bucket List? Well, self-indulgent male menopausal buddy flicks aside, I’ve recently been thinking about my own version of the list, and activities that are most important to me in my lifetime. One of the items I’ve added to my personal bucket list is “grow a real garden.” Believe me, this is quite the proclamation coming from She Who Shrinks from Anything Insectoid. Also, a startling revelation from She Who Recoils at Anything Snakelike. Oh, and don’t forget a shocking assertion from She Who Guards Against Anything Even Remotely Germ-Infested or Bacteria-laden. Why, then, it makes perfect sense that I’d choose to spend my time on my knees on the dirt, digging into earth rife with microorganisms, the habitat of myriad insects and worms–and often visited by garter snakes.
I’m not sure what it is, but as I get older, I see what must have appealed to my dad about a garden. Nurturing the seeds, coaxing infant seedlings until they stretch sunward, ultimately unfurling in full bloom, just taps into my (otherwise untapped) maternal instinct somehow. (“And don’t forget having dogs, Mum! That taps into your maternal instincts, too, right? Hopefully the ‘you must feed your children’ maternal instincts.”)
Which brings me to this post’s Lucky Comestible: cilantro.
I determined early that my garden absolutely had to contain cilantro–lots and lots of cilantro. Now, I know that cilantro is one of those herbs one either loves or loathes. Like the ability to curl your tongue or whether or not your earlobes are detached, a penchant for cilantro appears to be genetically predetermined. Some people perceive it as “soapy and perfumey” while others can’t get enough. Having begun life in the former camp, I now find myself firmly entrenched in the latter.
Like so many herbs, cilantro (also known as Chinese Parsley) confers a plethora of health benefits besides the usual vitamins and minerals (though it’s no slouch in those areas, either–only 9 sprigs of the delicate plant provide almost one third of your daily Vitamin A, nine per cent of your daily Vitamin C, plus iron and calcium).
More importantly, the green pigment in cilantro represents chlorophyl, a powerful detoxifying agent and blood purifier. Cilantro is known to be a chelating herb, which means it draws heavy metals out of the system by encouraging the liver to produce bile so they’ll be excreted. In his monumental tome, Staying Healthy with Nutrition, Dr. Elson Haas includes a recipe for “Anti-Radiation Soup” that relies on the cleansing properties of cilantro to help flush the body of toxins produced due to radiation. I always have the soup after any necessary X-Rays (and, according to Haas, the soup was “shown to reduce radiation sickness after the Hiroshima bombing”).
If you’re one of those people who comes down on the “loathe” side of cilantro, I’d urge you to give it another try. You’ll find that the next few posts here at DDD will focus on this fragrant and fragile herb. Of course, you can always substitute parsley for some or all of the cilantro in these recipes– but why not live dangerously? That’s one more item you can check off your own bucket list.
Fresh & Spicy Cilantro Sauce (suitable for ACD all stages)
This sauce is perfect for summer with its brilliant shade of emerald and cool, tangy, tongue-tingling flavor. The tart lime juice melds beautifully with the smooth nut butter and fragrant cilantro here. And while we ate it spooned lightly over Jessy’s Brown Rice Veggie Burgers, it would be a perfect sauce for any meal-in-a-bowl of your choice, or even tossed with cold noodles for a zingy summer salad.
1 to 1-1/2 cups fresh cilantro leaves and thin stems (depending on how much you like cilantro)
1/2 large jalapeno pepper (remove seeds for less heat)
juice of 2 limes
1-2 Tbsp (15-30 ml) water, if necessary to reach desired consistency
1 large clove garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp (15 ml) pumpkinseed butter; or use sunflower or almond butter (use raw butter for an all-raw version)
1 fresh green onion
pinch fine sea salt
Blend everything in a blender until it comes together in a smooth, light, vibrant green sauce (you may need to push down the sides of the blender a few times until everything is incorporated). Taste and adjust seasoning. Makes about 1/2 cup (120 ml). Will keep, covered, in refrigerator up to 3 days.
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Other Posts in this Series:
- Lucky Comestible 5(2): Lemony Baked Tofu
- Lucky Comestible 5(3): Confetti Quinoa and Wild Rice Salad
- Lucky Comestible 5(4): Grain-Free Hazelnut-Cilantro Crackers
- Lucky Comestible 5(5): “Ground” Tempeh in a Cilantro-Curry Sauce
Other Lucky Comestibles:
- Lucky Comestible 1: Sweet Potato
- Lucky Comestible 2: Quinoa
- Lucky Comestible 3: Avocado
- Lucky Comestible 4: Coconut
Last Year at this Time: Sweet and Spicy Tempeh