Do you have that one ingredient that you add to everything convinced that it is the key to your overall health? Mine is definitely GINGER.
We are going through one of those periods at the office when everyone is sick and passing around germs like a bad game of hot potato. I rarely seem to succumb to the germ-du-jour and so I am always asked why and if I have a secret weapon. I tell them that my secret is a three part process: hand washing, fermented foods and ginger.
The hand washing speaks for itself. There is not need to carry more germs than you need to and picking them up from grubby surfaces is just not necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a hand sanitizer normally and I don’t usually use paper towels to open doors, but I do wash my hands especially when surrounded by sneezing and nose blowing. As for the fermented foods you have heard me ramble on enough about kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut. These foods help promote good gut bacteria which in return makes for a strong immune system.
Admittedly, the ginger helps out a lot more when you are starting to get sick or have somehow contracted the entire cold and are a coughing, sniffling mess. There are many cultures who take ginger as a preventative food as well ad so I see no harm in making sure that I get some every day. There are thousands of ways to bring a little ginger heat to your day but I am going to give you my top 3.
Hint- Freeze your ginger. This is one of those common tricks that every tv chef seems to be promoting these days but works like a charm. I keep all of my ginger in the fridge ready to be grated into anything that I am making. Make sure to get one of the little rasps or mini graters for this so that the bits remain small. Nobody wants a big stringy chunk of ginger in their teeth.
Green Ginger Smoothie-
I used to be one of those people who chronically drank just a cup of coffee for breakfast and then dragged myself to lunch. The continual ranting from teachers and parents about breakfast being the most important meal of the day fell on my very deaf ears. I saw breakfast ias both adding extra calories and taking up valuable minutes that I could spend sleeping (sound familiar?). As I have grown up, I a have realized that not only do I no longer have the figure that I did at 17, I was also not the know it all that I thought I was (shocking right?).
I start every day (ok nearly every day because I sometimes forget to make the kefir the night before), with a green ginger smoothie. You literally need to throw all of the ingredients into a blender and whiz it up. For the smoothie, you are going to need:
- 1 cup of kefir or yogurt
- 1/2 cup of the frozen fruit of your choice (strawberries are great but will make the smoothie brown which could freak out others)
- 2 tablespoons of grated ginger (yes, it is a ginger smoothie)
- 1 big leaf of kale or a handful of spinach
- 1 tablespoon of oats or a grain flake blend
Blend the lot and consume. Depending on the fruit, the smoothie could end up a little thicker than you like. I like to make it this way and then take it to work with me in a mason jar. By the time I have settled into my desk and am ready to drink it, it has melted out but is still cold. What is great about this smoothie is that the ginger gives you are real kick. It gets your metabolism going and boosts your energy naturally. I will admit that I still chase it with a cup of coffee but I am wild that way!
Ginger Lemon Tea –
This tea is a real winner whether you are feeling like you might be getting sick, are full on sick or even if it is cold outside and you just need a little warmth. Ginger acts not only as a decongestant but also helps to increase circulation which is why you get that warming sensation from it (the ginger heat). The first thing that you need to do is boil a kettle and find your biggest and tackiest mug. Add to the mug a half a lemon squeezed and then tossed in, a tablespoon or so of honey and a thumb sized piece of ginger sliced any way that you want. Pour the boiling water into the mug and let the mixture steep for 3 minutes. If you want to get really fancy you can add some orange slices. The ginger is going to help open up your airways while the honey will sooth a sore throat. The kick from the vitamin C in the citrus will help you fight off whatever is attacking your system and turning you into the dripping mess. I bring little baggies full of ginger and lemons to work if I am ever sick and drink it all day. I have also convinced myself that if I drink it while others around me are sick, that I might just be protecting myself. Whatever works right?
I have had several friends over the past few years (we are in the baby making years) who have suffered from morning sickness ranging from an uneasy stomach to full blown living in the bathroom. Ginger has long been known to help alleviate morning sickness and so I push it on them as well. Pregnant ladies love unwanted advice don’t they? I sure know I did…. but this is different.
Why is ginger always measured in thumb sizes?
Gingery Baby Food –
Last but not least let’s not forget about the little members of the family. There is a very good reason that ginger is found in the vast majority of Asian diets and that is because it acts as a digestive aid. It is also very good for relieving bloating and gas. If there is one thing that I have learned in my short 6 months of motherhood it is that gas + baby = screaming.
In an effort to diversify my baby’s pallet and because I have embarked on a mission to only feed her homemade food (as much as possible) I have started introducing new elements to her diet. The fist steps in this are lentils. Red lentils are the mildest and least likely to cause stomach upset but I still wanted to add a little safety net. I added some ginger to her food to see if it would sooth any upset caused to her new digestive track and to add a little well needed pizzazz to her meal. For this simple baby food you will need:
- 1/2 cup of lentils
- 1 1/2 water
- 1/2 cup of any vegetable ( I used butternut squash for sweetness here)
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
I start by rinsing and then boiling the lentils for about 15 minutes or until they are soft. Strain them but make sure to keep the liquid. When cooking veggies for the baby it is important to either microwave them or steam them. Boiling them will make them soft but a good deal of the nutrients will be lost in the water. Combine the lentils and the veggies in the blender and then grate in the ginger. Add some of the lentil cooking liquid and blend. Continue to add the lentil water until you reach the desired consistency.
Make sure that it is cool and then bon appetite baby!
Those are my top 3 almost daily uses of this versatile rhizome. What are your go-to ginger recipes?