Chimichurri: A free radical fighting sauce recipe
For many people, eating healthy screams restriction and no flavor. The idea of giving up favorite comfort foods, sweet treats, and sauces is enough to have people stop dieting before they ever get started. I love sauces. I love to dip and slather my food with all the creamy goodness that sauces have to offer. Sauces elevate the flavor and texture of food from boring to a born again experience. Why would I want to give that up in the name of a restrictive diet? Truth? I won’t.
I don’t want you to either. There are some amazing “lateral” sauces and dips out there. A “lateral” food is one that has a similar taste and consistency, but has a much higher nutrition content then a favorite comfort sauce. When I started to really dive into a whole foods, low carb approach to food, I would research my favorite sauces and try to find a healthier alternative. A lateral move. This approach to health fits right in with my beliefs in the nutrition and mental wellness pillars.
During my journey, I discovered a sauce that brings all the good things. It has all the spice and flavor that I demand out of a good sauce. I don’t have to sacrifice flavor or nutrition with this exotic and tangy dressing.
This acidic dressing or sauce pairs well with eggs, chicken, beef, lamb, pork, and even as a dipping sauce for seed crackers. The acid from the vinegar and herbs cuts well with the fats of the animals. I’ve been known to use it as a dressing on plain old cheese. Adding it to swiss cheese is a great snack!
In the morning, I will add it to my fried eggs and avocado. It is like eating restaurant quality food for breakfast without the cost. My husband has been obsessed with lamb chops recently, which means I go through more chimichurri than usual because the marring between these two mediterranean flavors is to die for.
This sauce also follows my lazy cook rules. It must be simple to make and easy to clean up. Man oh man do I hate dishes.
Just like the arugula salad, it’s list of ingredients is very easy to remember and throw together.
You will need:
- bunch parsley
- bunch cilantro
- red pepper flakes
- dried oregano
- pink or gray Himalayan sea salt
- black pepper
- white wine vinegar
- extra virgin olive oil
Fresh parsley is a great herb to have on hand. No, it’s not to garnish all your plates so they look extra fancy, although you could totally do that. It is an inexpensive plant that tastes great and has amazing health benefits.
The number one benefit is the flavonoid it contains called apigenin. I always thought flavonoids were related to a foods flavor and that it mean the taste would be strong. In some cases that may be true, however the definition of flavonoids according to Merriam-Webster is a “biologically active water-soluble plant compound. . .Flavonoids are effective scavengers of free radicals.”
Okay. . .but what is a free radical? In the simplest terms, free radicals will attack and destroy many molecules in the body including cells, protein strands, and lipids, to name a few. When free radicals attack areas of the body, disease and sickness occur. Places which see the most damage from free radicals are in inflammation related sicknesses or diseases and cancers. Free radicals can be created by our bodies under times of internal stress to the system. These monster free radicals are often created by external factors such as drugs, toxic chemicals, smoking, and polluted environments. When free radicals begin to outnumber the good antioxidants in our bodies, disease and cancer occur. We want to limit the number of free radicals and the damage they do to our bodies.
So, back to the flavonoid apigenin. Since a flavonoid is a scavenger or attacker of free radicals, we definitely want more of them because they will destroy the free radicals that are in our body. Doing this will bring balance back into our body and its cellular function. The body is able to heal itself because you helped create a healthier environment.
Apigenin also helps our liver produce an enzyme that aids in the detoxifying and filtering of our blood.
The shortest explaination: Eating parsley reduces your risk for disease, cancer, and inflammation.
Cilantro is the next super ingredient needed to make chimichurri. It is the leaves and plant that comes from the coriander seed and is often served in Mexican cuisine. Cilantro’s known for binding heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and mercury and removing them from our bodies. Further more, when heavy metals are carted away, our body systems are able to function more properly, specifically our livers. This tasty herb also contains a flavonoid to help carry off those destructive free radicals.
Garlic is a food group all by itself. It plain tastes amazing. I add it to most of the foods I cook. If I could make a tasty treat with garlic and chocolate, I would. But since we are talking about the health benefits of chimichurri, I won’t leave the garlic out. Garlic boosts the immune system and contains antioxidants which actively support the body’s systems to protect against free radicals. Similar to cilantro, garlic has shown to protect the body from heavy metal toxicity.
It’s time to mix up some free radical fighting sauce. Since I am a lazy cook, I don’t often measure and will substitute out ingredients if I don’t have something on hand. This is the base recipe. I like to taste as I go and add a little more of what I think it needs for flavors. If the red pepper flakes scare you, take them out. If you want it thinner, like a dressing, add more oil and vinegar. Mr. Marvelous does not like his sauce runny. He prefers it almost like a wet salad, so I don’t use as much liquid when I make mine. The beauty of this sauce is that you are mixing it in a blender so it is easy to add more of what you need and can see the consistency as you go.
You will need:
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch cilantro
3-4 cloves garlic
½ tsp red pepper flakes
2 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp. pink or gray Himalayan sea salt
¼ tsp. black pepper
2 Tbsp white or red wine vinegar
⅓ c. extra virgin olive oil
Here we go!
Pull or cut off the leaves of the parsley and cilantro. Don’t get too technical here. If you have some stems, great! They mix right in.
Toss these into your blender or food processor. We use a Vitamix.
Pulse a time or two just to get things going.
Toss in the rest of the ingredients except for the oil.
Turn on that machine and watch the magic happen.
Slowly add in the oil while the machine is on and continue to add oil until the desired consistency is met.
If you need more flavor or spice, now is the time to add it in.
Sometimes I will have to stop the machine and scrape down the sides a bit until the oil starts emulsifying.
When you have the consistency and flavor you want, Voila! Done.
Now it’s time to grill that steak, pour on top, and eat this delicious free radical fighting sauce known as chimichurri!
What sauce or dressing do you love? Would you like me to try to find a healthier more nutritious version? Drop me a comment and let me know. I love exploring “lateral” dishes.
All information on free radicals was taken from:
Lobo, V., Patil, A., Phatak, A., & Chandra, N. (2010). Free radicals, antioxidants and functional foods: Impact on human health. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 4(8), 118–126. http://doi.org/10.4103/0973-7847.70902
It is great read to familiarize yourself more on free radicals and the oxidization of the body. You know, if you’re into some light medical journal reading.
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