It is winter in Florida and my lovely grandmother, who calls the sunshine state her home, has been struggling with the cooler than usual weather this year. She constantly complains of being cold and has in turn been racking up the heating bills to try and stay warm.
So I, being the health nut that I am, suggested that she try drinking some ginger tea which is known to increase circulation and warmth within the body. Surprisingly, she listened to me, and went out and bought some! She was a little shocked by the piquancy of it, but noticed that it did help. This is what led me to today’s blog about ginger.
Ginger is an amazing root that is used for culinary, aromatic, and medicinal purposes. It is an odd looking spice, pale yellow in color with a torso like shape and lots of little nubs poking off into various directions.
The part of the tropical plant, known as Zingibar Officinale, used is its starchy, pungent, aromatic rhizome. Ginger is a tropical, hot spice with flavors of citrus, and floral, woodsy undertones. In the culinary world it can be added to a dish to provide substance and thickness as well as for added aroma.
I read that back in the day the English taverns set out ginger powder on the tables along with salt and pepper for people to sprinkle on their drinks, thus forming ginger beer and ginger ale. Today ginger is still used to make ginger ales and is even added to Yemen coffee.
Ginger can be used in its dried or fresh state, and is available as the whole fresh root, dried root, powdered, preserved, crystallized (excellent in gingersnaps), and pickled. India, China and Jamaica are major producers of dried ginger, while the beautiful US state of Hawaii produces much of the fresh ginger.
Some say that Indian ginger has strong aromas of citrus, Chinese ginger is most pungent, and Jamaican ginger is the finest with a delicate and sweet presence. I am not a connoisseur of ginger though so what ever looks the best at the market is what I purchase.
Fresh ginger root can be found in the produce section and should be stored in the fridge unpeeled. It should look firm, smooth, and healthy, with no spots or mildew. The skin may be removed with a paring knife and then the root sliced, diced or julienned.
Add it to your cooking (beans, soups, stir fry), in the juicer (great with carrot and apple) or in tea. **Fresh Ginger Tea – put a couple of thick slices of fresh peeled ginger root in a cup of hot tea and steep. Add lemon slices if you wish.** Dried or crystallized ginger is a wonderful addition to baked goods, and you can even buy ginger candies to chew on which also may help with nausea.
Medicinally, ginger is a wonderful healing spice and is extremely prevalent in Chinese medicine. Ginger tea, which is what I explained to my grandmother, is a diaphoretic (fancy term for “makes you sweat”). It warms you up and promotes perspiration which is good to alleviate colds, for cold weather, and to detoxify your body.
Overall, ginger promotes warmth and circulation in the body, increases metabolic rate, helps the body detoxify from acidic foods, cleanses and rebuilds the cardiovascular system, alleviates symptoms of gastrointestinal stress, prevents motion sickness and nausea associated with pregnancy, aids in digestion, and reduces flatulence (hallelujah!).
It is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antispasmodic, and the list goes on. Basically, it’s really darn good for you…who knew this little hot number had all that and more! Ginger is such a versatile spice that you may want to get to know well and have fun experimenting with in your cooking and baking.
Ginger will add to your culinary repertoire as well as your health, and at the least may keep You hot and spicy!
It’s the New Year and you want to make healthy living your new norm. This means developing habits that nourish and fuel your body so that you can wake up every day ready to positively take the world on. You want to live life to its fullest, adventure, be wild, feel energized and exude vitality right?! Yes!
Here are 5 new habits to get you there this year:
Habit #1 – Wake up, fuel up.
Start the day first and foremost in gratitude that you are alive. Deep breath, stretch, smile. This day is gonna be awesome. Ditch the coffee and try a hot lemon water with a pinch of cayenne. Your cells with plump up and say thank you. Make yourself a pot of warm oatmeal with banana, cinnamon, walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup.
You just owned this morning.
Habit #2 – Stop the rush, sit down, chew your food.
Yes I said it. Sit down, take another deep breath, and enjoy doing nothing but eating your lunch mindfully. This may seem weird to you (and your co-workers) at first, but you will come to enjoy this once you notice how well your body digests and utilizes nutrients when you are relaxed and actually chew your food.
Take THAT mid-day slump.
Habit #3 – Bypass the office cookies, eat a healthy snack.
Now that you started your day right and ate a healthy lunch you will want to continue the good feeling by powering up the mid-day with energy boosting snacks. Try making your own granola bars, trail mix or other homemade energy snack. These types of snacks will give you the boost you need to get you ready for the after work marathon/indoor climbing/cross training session (insert whatever kick butt activity you like).
Afternoon adventure, here I come.
Habit #4 – Refuel from your kick butt after work activity.
Your body loves protein after a good workout so hydrate with lots of lemon or cucumber water (yes it sounds spa like, but your body will love you if you add cucumber slices to your water bottle), then make a protein packed smoothie. Good choices include banana, peanut butter and almond milk or strawberry, banana, and almond butter with spinach, chia and either hemp/whey added.
Feeling strong, loving life.
Habit #5 – Relax, nourish, love.
You made it through the day full of vitality so now it is time to relax and nourish your body. This may mean something different for everyone. What does it mean for you? Maybe a yoga session, meditation, tea at a local café with friends, drawing, taking a bath, reading, playing music, watching football, cooking…. Whatever it is take time to do it. Wind your body down, nourish it with good food, and express love.
Man this day was awesome.
So there you are. Five simple habits to living this year and every year full of vitality, adventure, love, and life. Now go positively take the world on!
This blog is an exploration of life, love, adventure and art primarily through the medium of food.