Cilantro, also known as coriander, is a fabulous herb that adds tons of flavor wherever it goes. It’s often found in Mexican food, but it is used in all kinds of cuisines from Indian to Chinese. Cilantro has a very distinct flavor, which can be polarizing—people usually either love it or think it tastes soapy—but at HealthBarn USA, we have lots of fans, both of the flavor and the nutrition! Cilantro is known to have antioxidant qualities and has been used in holistic medicine as a digestive aid. A quarter cup serving of raw cilantro leaves also provides a good source of vitamin K to help keep your blood vibrant and clean.
As I mentioned in last week’s post about mint, herbs are usually quite easy to grow. Cilantro likes the sun and lots of water but will also do well in some shade. The growing season is short in cooler climates (about 6 weeks in the summer), so we treasure cilantro when we have it! If it’s too hot, cilantro will go to seed quickly, so make sure to keep pinching and eating. And, if does go to seed, save them and plant them next year!
If you are a cilantro lover, you’ll find that it adds flavor to almost any dish, from soups to dips to salads. Get creative! One of our favorite ways to use cilantro is in our delicious fruity salsa from Appetite for Life. It’s a sweet twist on the classic, and cilantro is a great accent to fruit! One helpful thing to note is that cilantro stems actually hold a lot of the flavor of this herb, so don’t worry about carefully picking off the leaves from the plant—it’s actually better to mince up some of the thin offshoots of the stem than to leave them behind!
Mango and Peach Salsa
If you like salsa, you will love this twist. A different taste from your traditional tomato-based salsa, this recipe provides a sweet alternative. The longer you allow the flavors to blend, the better it tastes. Snack on it with pita chips or whole-grain crackers, and try it as a topping for chicken and fish too. If you’re not a fan of cilantro, try parsley instead.
Kids can take mango, peach, and pepper slices and chop using a plastic knife with adult supervision; they can also juice the limes.
2 ripe mangoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 small ripe peaches, coarsely chopped
1⁄4 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves or parsley leaves
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped green bell pepper (or 1 jalapeño chile, minced, if you like it spicy)
Juice of 2 limes
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
Pita chips and/or whole wheat crackers
In a medium bowl, stir together all ingredients except the pita chips and whole wheat crackers. Cover and refrigerate for up to 4 days if not serving right away.
Makes 36 servings (2 tablespoons per serving)
Nutrition Facts per serving: 10 calories; 0g fat; 0mg cholesterol; 3g carbohydrate (0g fiber, 1g sugar); 0g protein; 0mg sodium; 4% Daily Value (DV) vitamin A; 4% DV vitamin C.￼￼￼
What about you? Are you on Team Cilantro, or Team Soapy?!
– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.