Eileen Z. Fuentes | S.O.U.L Food Series: Cilantro
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07 May S.O.U.L Food Series: Cilantro


Photo: thekitchn.com

My first SOUL food post was such a hit that I am super excited to feature another of many more articles in this series. My aim is to get you more familiarized with the healthy food in your hood and more importantly to encourage you to go out and actually eat them! But first, for those of you who may not know what S.O.U.L. food is, let me start by defining that it stands for foods that are:

Seasonal, Organic, Unprocessed, and Local.

The spicy and sensational cilantro is an amazing herb. It is also versatile as it is available year-round despite the changing seasons and can easily be grown indoors right on your windowsill. Contrary to my initial belief, I learned that local is actually better than organic because of its overall effect on the planet. As a matter of fact, according to localvores, locally grown produce is always fresher and therefore more nutritionally complete. I know the local vs. organic dispute is a hard pill to swallow but I urge you to take a look at this shocking 3-minute video. Like me, you may have to reconsider your previous notion about this controversial topic.

While most people have seen pieces of cilantro floating around in their salsa, they may not know how beneficial it is to consume. There are countless reasons to add this valuable ingredient to your meal. The most notable is its natural cleansing properties. Cilantro has been effectively used to remove heavy metals and other toxic agents from the body. It is an exceptional digestive aid and relieves gas and diarrhea issues. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory, a common property in diseases such as cancer and heart disease. This herb is a natural remedy for reducing cramping and easing mood swings associated with menstruation. It is a great source of iron, magnesium, vitamin A, phosphorus and helps to promote healthy liver function and lower blood sugar. It can act as an expectorant, boost the immune system and eases overall eye stressors such as conjunctivitis and macular degeneration. And finally, it is a natural antiseptic agent for skin disorders. The question might well be, what doesn’t cilantro do?

Its pungent taste has created two types of followers; those who love it and those who despise it…no middle ground here. As I did my research, I was surprised to come across a clique of haters who loathed this green goodness with so much passion that they dedicated a blog, solely to its demise. “I Hate Cilantro” is filled with funny stories, member’s description of its taste, haikus dedicated to cilantro, and more.  And recently the New York Times published an article on the genetic reason why this may be the case for some. I personally believe that adding cilantro to most dishes adds another layer of great flavor.  It can enhance beans, meat, fish, soups, stews, and vegetables. You can use it to prepare pesto, marinade, sauce, dip, dressing, herb butter, etc. For great recipes, check out finecooking.com or mariquita.com.

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Eileen Z. Fuentes

After a breast cancer diagnosis in 2008, Eileen became her own Self-Healthcare Activist. She is an Integrative Cancer Coach and works full-time helping patients do more than just survive at Columbia University’s Cancer Center in New York City.

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