When I think of ginger, it was pretty much limited to gingerbread. I think that was the extent of my exposure to it. If I ever used it, it was always in powdered form. When I became vegan, I'd see recipes calling for fresh, grated ginger. I even went so far as to buy a fresh ginger root from the grocery store. It sat and got all withery because I just had no clue what to do with it.
Last year for Thanksgiving, my family went to Field of Greens, a local restaurant that serves some delicious vegan food, for their Thanksgiving buffet. I became absolutely addicted to their vegan ham, but that is another story. The hot beverage we couldn't get enough of was a ginger apple cider. Spicy. Different. Yummy. That was probably my first introduction to fresh ginger.
Months later we returned to listen to author Rynn Berry talk about the history of veganism, famous vegetarians and touch on his new book, Becoming Raw. I got a soup and sandwich while there, and the soup was a ginger carrot soup. Once again, fresh ginger, and, once again, delicious!
I was now ready to tackle fresh ginger on my own! Thus, this ginger vegetable soup seemed perfect! It is adapted from a wonderful recipe in Love Soup.
Warming Ginger Vegetable Soup
One small butternut squash. peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
2 onions, cut into bite sized pieces
3-5 potatoes, scrubbed and cut into bite sized pieces
4 c. vegetable broth
3 T. finely chopped ginger
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
2 t. rice vinegar
2 T. lemon juice
2 T. agave nectar
Put the cut up squash, onions and potatoes on a cookie sheet and spread out to form a single layer. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle sea salt over the vegetables. Toss well to coat evenly. Roast for 30 minutes at 400, stir, reduce heat to 375 and continue roasting another 20 minutes.
Dump roasted vegetables into a Dutch oven. Add the broth, ginger, cilantro and vinegar. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and simmer 30 minutes. Puree the soup and add back to pot. Bring back to a simmer, add the lemon juice and agave nectar. Serve!
It was very tummy warming and tasty. I served it with a simple salad and some good crusty French bread. You can add a dollop of Tofutti sour cream, if you'd like, but we didn't.
Ginger's current name comes from the Middle English gingivere, but ginger dates back over 3,000 years to the Sanskrit srngaveram meaning "horn root" with reference to its appearance. In Greek it was ziggiberis, and in Latin, zinziberi.
Although it was well-known to the ancient Romans, ginger nearly disappeared in Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. Thanks to Marco Polo's trip to the Far East, ginger came back into favor in Europe, becoming not only a much-coveted spice, but also a very expensive one.
Ginger is mentioned by Confucius (551-478 BCE), and in the Koran. Medieval Europe thought it came from the Garden of Eden.
Through out history famous world figures such as Henry the VIII revered the benefits of ginger. Believing ginger aided in preventing one from getting to the plague.
Queen Elizabeth I of England is credited with the invention of the gingerbread man, which became a popular Christmas treat.
Jamaicans and early American settlers made beer from it; and today, natural ginger ales made with fresh ginger are available as a digestive tonic. These should not be confused with most commercial brands of ginger ale as these contain so little ginger that they are nothing more than sweetened soft drinks with no medicinal value. To make homemade ginger ale: Take fresh ginger and flatten the unpeeled root. Place one cup of the flattened root in a gallon of water and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from the heat, strain, and add honey to taste. It can be drunk as is or added to carbonized water.
Ginger (botanical name Zingiber officinale) is in the same family as turmeric and cardamom. It is native to Southern Asia and has long been a staple addition to Asian cuisines.
Ginger is quite popular in the Caribbean Islands, where it grows wild in lush tropical settings. Jamaican ginger is prized for its strong, perky flavor, and this island currently provides most of the world's supply, followed by India, Africa and China.
The gnarled, bumpy root of the ginger plant is the source of this wonderful spice.
A study on motion sickness done by ("The American Phytotherapy Research Laboratory") located in Salt Lake City. Results showed that ginger was compared to Dramamine, for relieving motion sickness. It was proven ginger had a significant benefit in their experiment with a controlled study. One group taking Dramamine the other ginger, the group that took the ginger withstood a spin test for 6 minutes, while the Dramamine group became nauseous within 4 1/2 minutes. So next time you fly, opt for Ginger Ale, if you have a problem with motion sickness or that unsettled stomach.
The proprieties in Ginger have shown to aid in lowering blood cholesterol. It is also is effective in thinning blood, which aid in dissolving blood clots (Study Conducted by Cornell University Medical College). Other curative benefits include: relieves menstrual cramps, decreases headache discomforts, helps to regulate blood sugar, anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant, which aid to strengthen the immune system. Ginger is also high in both calcium and iron, so in turn helps with strong bones, and decreases adverse discomforts of arthritis. It is claimed that Ginger increases blood flow to the extremities, so helps with cold feet, and hands.
How much is too much? To get the benefits of Ginger, it is recommended to include 2-4 grams daily in your diet. There are many ways to get the required beneficial dose. From ginger snap cookies, to Chinese food, and let's not forget Ginger ale. You can also eat raw or blanched Ginger or brew it up in tea. The tea is great to aid in relieving menstrual cramps, and headache. To use topically, oil of ginger can be rubbed into sore joint to provide pain relief. Ginger capsule can be purchased at your health food store, if you prefer to take Ginger in pill form. Ginger is not recommended for children under 2 years of age.
I keep a bag of crystallized ginger around after reading all the benefits of it. According to Lydia Walshin, of The Perfect Pantry, "Crystallized ginger is fresh ginger that has been peeled, cut into small knobs, boiled in sugar and water, and then rolled in sugar crystals." It can also be sliced thin and boiled in a combination of sugar and honey, then rolled in more sugar until it resembles rock candy. Crystallized ginger is shelf stable for up to two years. It can be used to relieve inflammation, motion sickness and indigestion. It helps open the lungs and bronchial tubes to relieve asthma symptoms. It is a soothing remedy for colds and sore throats, especially when combined with honey. As a vegan, I would substitute agave nectar or maple syrup.
.Relieve Asthma Symptoms
Mince crystallized ginger and mix it with honey, water and black pepper. The crystallized ginger helps open sinuses and bronchial tubes while the honey soothes the throat and eases the urge to cough. Boil crystallized ginger, remove pan from heat and place it on a trivet. Lean over the pan with a towel or other cloth draped over your head and the pan. Take long, slow breaths of the steam. Hold your breath for five to 10 seconds every five breaths, then resume inhaling the steam. This helps calm the bronchospasms and anxiety that accompany asthma attacks.
Ginger's ability to calm upset stomach has been known and documented for many years. Chew a small piece of crystallized ginger while you are still lying in bed. This eases morning sickness and dizziness. Boil crystallized ginger with honey and lemon. mix with club soda and sip whenever you feel nauseated or bloated.
Soothe a Cold
Eat warm gingerbread made with chunks of crystallized ginger, and drizzled with honey. Drink tea made from crystallized ginger, honey, lemon and a small pinch of salt. Make a compress of crystallized ginger to place on the chest or around the throat to relieve congestion.
Keep a bowl of crystallized ginger near any place where you used to smoke. Chew crystallized ginger instead of reaching for a cigarette. Inhale steam from crystallized ginger to help open your lungs and encourage you to cough out all the buildup from years of smoking.
Chew crystallized ginger daily if you have rheumatoid arthritis or other pain. Apply warm compresses of crystallized ginger directly to affected areas if you have a sprain or strain. Crystallized ginger has proven to be almost as effective as ibuprofen in relieving inflammatory pain, at much lower cost.
Ginger is pretty amazing, and the spicy taste makes it worth it. I hope you try some ginger the next time you cook!