“Without garlic I simply would not care to live.” — Louis Diat

During the cold months of winter, there is no more comforting spot than a warm, cozy kitchen. People always seem to gravitate towards the kitchen to enjoy the love and lusciousness of cooking and eating delicious, healthy food. In the kitchen we seem to hear better, think better, care for each other and make the space and time to prepare a more delicious life.

When the weather is dreary and days are dark, the kitchen becomes a restoring respite. Bubbling pots of stew or soup thaw out the bone-chilling dampness and restore good humor. Preparing fresh, heart dishes from seasonal ingredients is a significant way to share gustatory goodness and establish healthy habits.

Cool weather concoctions make wonderful use of the deeply rooted flavors and natural sweetness of seasonal selections such as squash, pumpkin, parsnips, carrots, onions, garlic and winter greens.

With the cold and flu season in full swing, immune systems can greatly benefit from consuming extra doses of garlic. A miraculous and medicinal food, garlic works as an antiseptic, disinfectant and germicide. This pungent and perky ingredient contains natural chemicals that allow for many health-enhancing effects on the body.

Filled with vitamins B and C, as well as potassium, protein, calcium and phosphorous, fresh garlic can be quite effective at warding off nasty viruses. If I find myself feeling peaked, I have found that taking a clove of garlic, mincing it finely, and swallowing it with a big glass of water, has revived me a multitude of times. Be sure to try this method on a full stomach to avoid any upset.

If the particular pungency of garlic is a turn off, roasting this olfactory offender will result in an enormously different taste experience. Roasting garlic transforms those sharp little cloves from spiky to soft and sweet. Golden and caramelized, roasted garlic will add a spectacular essence and lush flavor to mashed potatoes, risotto, bruschetta, homemade pizza, soups, and stews. Individual servings of whole roasted heads, presented with slices of Italian bread would be a stunning, savory starter for a winter meal.

Gather in the kitchen, get cozy and prepare a delicious life with healthy and healing helpings of roasted garlic.

Cozy Kitchen Roasted Garlic

Makes 1 dozen heads

12 cup muffin tin

12 squares of aluminum foil for wrapping heads

12 whole heads of garlic, (give them a good rub to remove any dirt)

Extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil

Coarse sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place one head of garlic in each square of aluminum foil. Drizzle each head with oil and roll the heads around to coat them with the oil. Season the heads with salt and pepper. Wrap the heads with the foil to cover completely and place one head in each of the muffin tin cups. Bake for about 30-40 minutes until soft. Stick a knife into one of the heads to determine softness. Remove tin from the oven and when the packages are cool, open foil and remove heads. When ready to use, squeeze the buttery, creamy somewhat nutty cloves on bread or add to any desired recipe.

Robin Glowa, HHC, AADP, “The Conscious Cook,” writes about preparing a delicious life and presents healthy food workshops throughout New England. She is a professional cook, organic gardener and a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and Columbia University Teachers College.