You say cilantro, I say coriander.

Time to learn some stuff about a green leafy thing, mmmkay?

(Or an alternative title: this is not a baked goods post.)

Coriander/cilantro is that herb that looks a lot like flat leaf/continental parsley. For years I’d pinch leaves and smell them to tell the difference before a helpful guy at Norton Street Grocer told me to check for roots or not. Roots = coriander. No roots = flat leaf parsley ~ hullo? Easy!

Coriander (or cilantro.)

Coriander (or cilantro.)

A Brief Nutrient Profile of Coriander:

Now if you take any plant food and break it down into its constituent parts you’re going to find a measure of most vitamins and minerals but these measures are usually so small that one could not possibly rely upon a single plant food to deliver a therapeutic dosage of a specific nutrient all by itself.

Especially when you’re considering such a plant food as coriander, which isn’t usually eaten in large quantities, rather stirred through other foods as a paste, added dried to flavour or fresh to garnish.

Per 100g (which could easily be a whole bunch) the most abundant nutrients are [1]:

  • Fibre: 3.4g
  • Potassium: 520mg
  • Calcium: 84mg
  • Vitamin C: 48mg
  • Iron: 6.8mg

So you can’t really be counting on a few sprigs of coriander to provide you with your fibre or vitamin C requirements, BUT you can include it regularly to make up part of the nutrient line up from a (hopefully) wide array of plant foods that you consume!

For me, I view coriander with special respect because it contains polyphenols* which exert significant antioxidant activity and also compounds which cleave toxic heavy metals such as mercury to be carried away from storage sites in body tissues [2 – 4].

*Katie, what is a polyphenol? How do you even say it?

Like this: Poly-fennol. Poly refers to many and phenol refers to phenolic compounds. I could go further into the chemistry of phenolic compounds, but I shan’t. Suffice to say they are abundant in coriander and give it bad guy fighting power!

So when I eat coriander I eat it mindfully, knowing that I am ingesting disease-fighting goodies that just happen to come packed with a flavour hit that I love. Seriously, how easy is it to take a boring stir fry and zing it up with a handful of coriander leaves and a squeeze of lime?

This easy.

This easy.

When I buy a bunch of coriander I am loathe to waste it so I set myself the goal to eat all of it, I hate throwing out food especially fresh produce but bunches of herbs can be problematic can’t they? So much herb yet so little called for in the recipe for which you bought it.  Storing it in such a way as to prolong its life makes all the difference and this is achieved by submerging its roots into water and covering it over with a plastic bag, probably the one you put it into at the fruit and veggie market. Then keep it in the fridge.

Every other day, change the water and pick off any yellowing or tired looking leaves. But most importantly to avoid wasting it ~ EAT it!

A tall cup or container, some water in the bottom.

A tall cup or container, some water in the bottom.

Bag it up, baby.

Bag it up, baby.

And think outside the exotic inspired meals you commonly associate with coriander: Asian, Indian and Mexican for example. Just whack it on in there along with the ice berg lettuce when you make a salad or a sandwich. Add it to omelet or scrambled eggs. Use it in a home made pesto rather than basil and serve as a condiment with grilled fish or chicken.

Or make this fresh, light and crunchy slaw…

Fennel slaw w' coriander and continental parsley.

Fennel slaw w’ coriander and continental parsley.

Fennel Slaw w’ Coriander and Continental Parsley

Ingredients

  • 1 Fennel bulb (julienned)
  • 3 - 4 sprigs each of coriander and flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • salt and pepper

Directions

Step 1
Wash and pat dry the herbs.
Step 2
Finely dice and transfer into a large mixing bowl.
Step 3
Wash fennel well, peel off any browned, outer layers and then julienne the remainder and add to mixing bowl.

I have a mandolin which makes this SO easy and perfect but if you don't have one you can use a vegetable peeler or just do your best with a sharp knife.
Step 4
Squeeze over lemon juice and toss to coat well.
Step 5
Add mayonnaise and stir through thoroughly.
Step 6
Season to taste.
Step 7
Serve as you would regular coleslaw or use as a filling for a yummy lunch wrap or roll.

If you don’t like coriander then I can’t help you. You’re missing out is all.

~Yours in polyphenolic love, K180, x

References:

1. Nutrient Data from Food Standards Australia.

2. Nambiar VS, Daniel M and Guin P. Characterization of polyphenols from coriander leaves, red amaranthus and green amaranthus using paper chromatography: and their health implications. Journal of Herbal Medicine and Toxicology 4 (1) 173-177 (2010).

3. Craig, WJ. Health-promoting properties of common herbs. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;70(suppl):491S–9S.

4. Sharma V, Kansal L and Sharma A. Prophylactic Efficacy of Coriandrum sativum (Coriander) on Testis of Leaf-Exposed Mice.
[Abstract.] Biological Trace Element Research. , Volume 136, Issue 3, pp 337-354.

 

 

 

Comments

  1. I love corriander and luckily so because it grows like crazy in my yard! One year we had to whipper snipper it and start again, it was out of control hehe. Corriander, lime and cumin go well together and I also put it in my smoothies! Love this herb :) Thanks for the tip about the roots – I too still sniff the leaves to find out!

    • Mmm, coriander, lime and cumin sounds like a fantastic combination! I’ve often wondered about using coriander in a green smoothie but assume it flavours it quite noticably?

  2. Love love love coriander. Great article, and love the nutritional info.

    After I use the leaves from a bunch, I pop the washed stems/roots into the freezer, then use the roots for stirfrys or in soups, you get the most flavour from them.

  3. Love coriander! Although I say cilantro! Ha ha.
    When I buy a bunch I tend to chuck it all, stems too, into whatever I am making…but I seriously love the flavour so I am happy for coriander overload!

  4. Lynne Stone says:

    I love coriander to the point that if any body tells me they don’t like it I think ‘I can’t be friends with you now’! But seriously it really is my favourite herb.

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