Much to my family’s chagrin, I could eat Mexican food every night. I’m not exaggerating. Unfortunately my husband is not such a big fan of Mexican food, so when he goes out of town for work, I will fix some type of Mexican food every night. Whenever we are trying to decide where to go out to eat, my husband will ask me, “What do you feel like that is NOT Mexican?” because he knows I will answer Mexican food every time!
With all that being said, it is surprising that I don’t like the flavor of cilantro. Cilantro is popular in Mexican food, playing a key role in salsa and Pico de Gallo. Cilantro, also known as coriander, has a distinct flavor and aroma, due in part to it’s’ concentration of essential oils. Did you know that nature gives healthy foods a pleasant smell as a way to encourage people to eat it? This was critical in ancient times, before they could Google “is cilantro healthy” and they had to rely upon their senses to determine if a food was good for them or could kill them. Apparently the benefits of cilantro have been known for years because archaeologists have found remnants of cilantro in the ancient Egyptians tombs, even in King Tut’s!
So what is so great about cilantro that people have been eating it for centuries? Well, cilantro has been shown to remove heavy metals, like mercury, and toxins from the body. I was pleasantly surprised to read this because I had heard a lot about the risks of mercury in the body by eating too much fish, but I had never heard of this natural supplement that can help remove this toxic substance. In fact, studies have shown that individuals who had large amounts of mercury in their bodies were able to reduce their symptoms by consuming large amounts of cilantro over an extended period of time.
Cilantro also contains two anti-rheumatic and anti-arthritic properties, cineole and linoleic acid. These compounds may help relieve arthritis pain. Cilantro is also great for aiding digestion because it contains borneol and linalool, which both can help prevent diarrhea, stomach gas and feelings of nausea.
And get this ladies, cilantro can ease premenstrual mood swings, reduce cramps and reduce swelling!
There are tons of other health benefits of cilantro that are too numerous to list here. If you want to learn more, check out http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/cilantro.html.
The funny thing is that I find that I have a completely new appreciation for food when I understand what it does for my body. I don’t think that I’ll ever love cilantro, but I am going to try to find ways to incorporate it into my cooking now that I know how great it is for my family!
I decided to make Carne Asada last night to give cilantro a whirl. I have a confession to make first. I have never cooked with fresh herbs. I know, it is embarrassing. I normally just buy my herbs and spices already dried and packed in a McCormick’s container, but this time I bought a bunch of fresh cilantro special for this dish.
The Carne Asada is delicious and it definitely maintained a distinct cilantro flavor, but it was not overpowering. I decided against making the fresh salsa with the cilantro, because it was a weeknight dinner. Try this out and let me know what you think! Do you like cilantro? Do you ever make your own fresh salsa? If so, can you share your recipe?
- Flank Steak
- Bunch of Cilantro
- ½ cup Olive Oil
- 1 cup Red, Green and Yellow Peppers
- 2 Tbsp Carne Asada Seasoning
- ¼ cup lime juice
- 5 garlic cloves
- Whole Wheat Tortillas
- Black Beans
- 1-2 Tbsp White Vinegar
- 1 tsp Sugar
- Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt
- Make your marinade at least two hours before you plan to prepare the meal. I began marinating the steak the night prior and let it marinate all night long.
- Using a food processor, first add the garlic cloves, peppers and carne asada seasoning and pulse several times.
- Pack a heaping handful of cilantro, lime juice and vinegar, pulse until combined.
- Add the olive oil and sugar and then pulse again until combined.
- Put your flank steak into a large plastic bag and more the marinade in. Squeeze all the air out of the bag and seal. Place the bag in a dish so that it doesn’t leak in your refrigerator.
- Let it marinate for at least 2 hours, up to overnight
- You can grill the steak or broil it. I broiled mine because I don’t know how to use my grill! I broiled on high for about 10 minutes on both sides.
- Slice thinly and serve on warm whole wheat tortillas with black beans, salsa and avocado. Top with Greek Yogurt.