Recipes

Cilantro 101: Almost zero calories but lots of taste (perhaps soapy)

Cilantro has a lot of flavor for almost no calories.
Cilantro has a lot of flavor for almost no calories. KRT

Nutrition: Cilantro offers a lot of taste with minimal calories and no fat; 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons chopped) fresh cilantro leaves contain only 1 calorie. The leaves are considered high in vitamins A, C and K plus dietary fiber. Several studies have credited cilantro with a wide range of healthy attributes from helping sleep to lowering cholesterol. It’s been used as a digestive aid for centuries.

Selection: Cilantro is usually sold in bunches. Look for bright, evenly colored green leaves with no sign of yellow or brown. Leaves should appear fresh, not wilted, with crisp stems.

Storage: Cilantro dries out quickly. But in a sealed plastic bag, it tends to quickly turn to slime. Try this trick: Treat the leaves like a bouquet of fresh flowers. Snip off the bottom of the stems about 1/2 inch. Place the stems in a glass or pint jar with 1 inch of water in the bottom, making sure the stems reach the water but the leaves should be above the rim. Loosely place a plastic bag over the glass and cilantro leave and refrigerate until needed. Change the water every two days. The cilantro will stay fresh, crisp and fragrant for at least a week. Rinse just before use.

Freeze it: Cilantro will keep its flavor (but not its scent) when frozen. For easy use, chop cilantro, then distribute into an empty ice cube tray with 1 tablespoon of cilantro per cube space. Top the tray off with water and freeze. When frozen solid, transfer cubes to a sealed plastic bag. When cooking, add the frozen cilantro cube to recipes, 1 chilly tablespoon at a time.

Or chop fresh cilantro and spread in single layer on a cookie sheet; freeze. Transfer to a zip-locked bag (do this quickly before cilantro defrosts). Store in the freezer for up to six months; no defrosting necessary.

Soapy aftertaste: Cilantro contains aldehyde, a natural chemical compound also found in soap. According to scientific studies, 4 to 14 percent of the population is super-sensitive to the scent (and taste) of aldehyde. To those people, cilantro will taste like soap.

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