I know onions and I know garlic but I really don’t know leeks.
How about you? What do you know about leeks?
“Leeks look like flowers or shrubs but are actually vegetables. Leeks are related to chives, shallots, and onions. Unlike its cousin onion, leeks have stalks instead of bulbs. Leeks are quite easy to grow and are resilient. These vegetables can withstand harsh weather conditions. Leeks are indigenous to the Mediterranean and Middle East.
Leeks are hard and crunchy. The only edible part of the vegetable is its stalk, which is just above the roots and stem base.”
DO YOU KNOW? Leeks are part of a group of vegetables called Allium.
“There is nary a cuisine that doesn’t include allium vegetables. Onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, and scallions are all members of the Allium genus, and are fundamental to so many dishes that cooking without them would be challenging. Although rich in flavor, they seem to disappear in many sauces, stews, and soups, and it can be easy to forget their presence, unless you were the one tearing up while chopping them. Yet these humble flowering plants pack a nutrient punch.
A wide array of sulfur compounds gives onions, garlic, and other alliums their characteristic taste, smell, and tear-inducing pungency as well as their many health benefits, including cardiovascular protection, anti-cancer activity, lowering blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, lowering blood pressure, and providing anti-clotting benefits. Alliums also contain polyphenols, including the flavonoid quercetin, which along with many of the sulfur compounds have important anti-inflammatory effects.
To maximize the concentration of beneficial sulfur compounds, allow chopped onions, crushed or minced garlic, sliced leeks, or other alliums to sit for a few minutes before cooking or adding to an acid, such as vinegar or lemon juice. This allows the enzymes released when the alliums’ cells are broken to more completely react with sulfur-containing molecules and convert them to beneficial forms.”
DID YOU KNOW? Leeks are a good source of dietary fiber.
Leeks provide 4% to 5% of our daily fiber needs. Fiber is important to our gut health.
DID YOU KNOW? Carbohydrates are one of the most abundant macronutrients in leeks.
“A medium-sized leek provides about 10-12 gms of carbohydrates. Out of these, 3 gms are sugars and the rest is complex, slow-digesting carbohydrate. Leeks are also a good source of fiber which is a non-digestible form of carbohydrate. This fiber aids in digestion and helps prevent certain cancers and heart diseases.”
DID YOU KNOW? Leeks are good for your skin.
They detoxify and protect against the sun.
“Detoxifies Your Skin:
Leeks are a natural diuretic and detoxify your skin by trapping harmful substances and flushing them out of your body. They perfectly cleanse your body, making your skin look radiant.
The green leaves of leek contain 100 times more beta-carotene and twice as much vitamin C as in the white parts. This combination of vitamins A, C and E as well as other powerful antioxidants in leeks protects your skin against damage by free radicals and harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun.”
DID YOU KNOW? Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans and were especially revered for their beneficial effect upon the throat.
DID YOU KNOW? Leeks are very high in vitamin K and are high in manganese, vitamin A and vitamin C, and they have many other vitamins and minerals.
I don’t know about you, but I was surprised to learn what I just did but also to read that eating leeks are good for my skin and throat. I’ve never thought of eating leeks but now I am intrigued and up for the challenge to learn more and to cook with them. I am also looking forward to sharing with you my leek journey.
For recipes, check out Cooking with Grams
and https://www.bonappetit.com/recipes/slideshow/23-favorite-leek-recipes-like-onions or https://www.delish.com/cooking/g869/leeks-recipes/.
I’d love to hear if any of you have leeks as part of your holiday meals.
Until next Monday, my challenge to you and for me is to cook with leeks. I must admit I am excited.