Garlic is one of nature's greatest gifts. If you aren't eating this fragrant bulb, a relative of the lily, you should be.
Some people avoid it because of the dreaded "garlic breath". One nice thing about living in Miami is that everybody has garlic breath, so you can't smell it! Light cooking also reduces the "after-scent". It's a staple of Hispanic and many other ethnic cooking styles.
Garlic is reported to protect from and fight infections. It's proven to help keep the blood from clotting inappropriately, helping to guard your body from strokes and heart attacks. There are reports of many other health benefits as well; it even is reported to help prevent cancer!
How you prepare your garlic makes a big difference in how good it is for you. Try to use fresh - it's easy! Fresh garlic has more health benefits and is more flavorful. Get a good garlic crusher (unless you use a mortar and pestle) or view the YouTube video below. Garlic reacts well to mistreatment - its biggest benefits come out when you crush it a little ahead of time.
The easiest way to prepare it is to first cut a thin slice off the stem end to remove the woody cap. Lay it on the cutting board and give it a good solid whack with a chef's knife, cleaver, or other flat object. The paper hull will slip right off. Go ahead with your other cooking preparations. When the sauté or sauce is close to done, use the garlic crusher and add it in. It's also great to add to marinades of all kinds.
Never brown garlic; it not only destroys some nutrients but turns bitter as well. And NEVER microwave it. The only way of cooking that destroys garlic's healthy benefits is the microwave. Sauté, boil, roast - any other way is okay.
Sometimes I add raw garlic to a large green salad. I remove the hull as above, chop into small pieces, and sprinkle with salt, then crush it by rubbing a chef's knife over it until the salt and pressure reduces it to a creamy consistency. Add to the dressing or any juicy part of the salad like chopped tomato, and mix well before adding to greens. Those who like less garlic can rub a crushed clove around a wooden salad bowl for a subtle flavor. Add a few black olives and a smidgen of cheese, and you have a meal fit for royalty!