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Everything You Need To Know About Cilantro

Everything You Need To Know About Cilantro
Reading Time: 5 minutesCilantro, otherwise known as coriander or Chinese parsley, is a staple  in many dishes as it adds flavor and freshness to a variety of foods. This healthy herb is best known in its cilantro lime rice or cilantro lime chicken recipes, but can far exceed those dishes regarding flavor and zest. You can start by planting them as small cilantro seeds in your garden or buy them already bundled at the grocery store, either way you are in for a fresh treat! Its flavor is unique to many Asian, Latin, and Indian dishes, as well as dressings, which makes it a versatile herb to choose. Whether you use cilantro in cooking dishes or you have it in your essential oil collection, the possibilities are endless when it comes to its benefits.

Cilantro Fun Facts

  • “Cilantro was brought to the North American colonies by the English in 1670.
  • Both the plant and seeds are heavily used in Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Southeast Asian cuisines. But are also common in Central Asian, Mediterranean, Latin America, Chinese, African, and even Scandinavian cuisine.
  • The root has more taste than the leaves, stems, and seeds. Don’t throw it out because you can grind it up to make Thai curry pastes.
  • The leaves should be added to warm/hot foods right before serving. The reason being that heat diminishes their flavor.
  • Certain European rye breads occasionally use coriander seeds for flavoring.” [1]
  • “Coriander/cilantro has been around since biblical times.  In the Bible, Exodus, XVI, 31 mentions coriander.
  • The ancient Egyptians believed coriander could be used in the afterlife as a food for the departed.
  • Cilantro is very easy to grow from seed. Sow seeds in ½ inch furrows after the danger of frost has past. Sow seeds every two weeks to assure a continuous crop of fresh leaves.
  • Internally, cilantro is used for digestive problems. Externally, it is used for joint problems, as a laxative, and for hemorrhoids. Coriander/cilantro has antioxidant properties and can delay or prevent food spoilage.” [2]
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Cilantro History/Mythology

This delicious, strong, and pungent herb has been around for many years with its history dating back to at least 5,000 BC. It was widely used with the Greeks and the Egyptians, and was said to have aphrodisiac properties when consumed. They believed when a man ate cilantro, it enhanced his sexual power. As mentioned above, it was widely noted in the Bible as a part of the daily herb that went along with manna, which was a type of bread back in those times. According to the Healthy Eating Site,

“Coriander seeds have even been found in Egyptian tombs and writings about coriander appear in Sanskrit dating from around 1500 BC.” [3]

The Romans took cilantro with them to Britain, and then the British introduced it to the United States as people migrated there. Coriander leaves have been used in Chinese cuisine for hundreds of years, but it was new to the rest of the world until around this time period. It then became popular in the United States around 1600 in Massachusetts and was one of the first herbs grown by the colonists.

In the 1700’s, the French would actually used distilled coriander to make specific types of liquor, however, it is not predominantly popular in today’s day and age. It is cultivated mainly in tropical regions all around the world, as it grows best in hotter climates with humidity [4]. Ironically, the term coriander is a Greek word otherwise known as “koris’, which also translates to bedbug. While this might not make much sense when reading it, it has been said that coriander seeds tend to smell like bed bugs. [5]

Today, cilantro is used worldwide and is enjoyed and loved by many. What would salsa and guacamole be without cilantro? What would traditional Mexican style tacos be without cilantro being used as a garnish? We are truly fortunate to have this herb cultivated around the world and so easily available to us. It is a very delicate herb however, and it does not last long once purchased. It will keep for longer periods of time in a refrigerator, but you must use it quickly after cutting it from the plant or buying it in the grocery store.

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Cilantro Nutritional Facts

The cilantro plant, leaves, and the coriander seeds have a very different taste when you try them all out. It comes from the family called Apiaceae, and it is native to the Mediterranean region. It is extremely low in fat and it has an equal number of protein to carbs.

According to Healthy Eating,

“A 4-ounce serving contains 4 grams of carbs, 2 grams of protein, 1 gram of fat, and 26 calories.” [6]

It also contains no cholesterol and is packed with antioxidants, as well as dietary fiber. It is loaded with vitamin A, C, E, K, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, and a whole host of other nutritious minerals. [7]

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Cilantro Health Benefits

There are a variety of health benefits associated with consuming cilantro, or even using it in essential oils. You don’t have to eat it straight to gain these benefits either, as you can use it in a cilantro lime dressing or in a cilantro lime cauliflower rice and still reap the rewards. Cilantro is known to help detox the body of toxic metals and is notorious for being high in vitamins and minerals. There are a plethora of toxic metals that we are exposed to on a daily basis, such as aluminum and arsenic, which can cause health problems later on down the line.

According to Global Healing,

“Mercury, for example, can have a devastating effect on your health. Many people who suffer from mercury exposure report feeling more clear headed after consuming large amounts of cilantro over an extended period.” [7]

The same goes for exposure to lead, which also can wreak havoc on the body.

“Compounds in cilantro leaf bind to toxic metals and loosen them from affected tissue. This process allows metals to be released from the body naturally.”

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Cilantro Varieties

When looking into the different varieties of cilantro, it was quite simple. There are not a vast number of varieties when looking at growing different types. There are many ways to grow cilantro if you live in a hot climate, but it primarily happens in the late spring. The three types you will most frequently hear about are big leaf cilantro, which is flat and milder in flavor, Chinese parsley, and Asia choice cilantro. They are all very similar in color and size, which makes them hard to distinguish from one another. [8]

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Cilantro Uses

There are so many great uses for cilantro, and many of those uses happen in the kitchen. With too many great recipes to talk about, I will highlight one of my favorites, which happens to be cilantro lime cauliflower rice. There will be some prep work involved, and if you are unsure of how to chop cilantro simply pull of the leaves from the steam and make a small pile. Once the cilantro is in a pile, chop it up to your desired consistency.

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Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice Recipes

By: Skinny Taste

Serves 5

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head (about 24 oz) cauliflower, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 scallions, diced
  • kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1-1/2 limes
  • 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Remove the core and let the cauliflower dry completely.
  2. Coarsely chop into florets, then place half of the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is small and has the texture of rice or couscous – don’t over process or it will get mushy.
  3. Set aside and repeat with the remaining cauliflower.
  4. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add olive oil, scallions, and garlic and sauté about 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft.
  5. Raise the heat to medium-high.
  6. Add the cauliflower “rice” to the sauté pan. Cover and cook approximately 5 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Remove from heat and place in a medium bowl; toss with fresh cilantro and lime juice to taste.
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