Don’t Use Icy Hot, Use Ginger!

Ginger is a root that is extremely versatile in its uses and has numerous health benefits. Ginger is used in foods and drinks regularly. For example, there is ginger tea, ginger flavored kombucha, ginger flavored pork, ginger bread cookies, dehydrated and candied ginger, ginger cake, and more.  Ginger root is also highly accessible. For example, from campus, students of Providence can walk to the Armenian produce market next to Connal’s for some fresh, affordable ginger. You can easily get a substantial chunk of ginger root at nearly every produce mart for about a dollar.

Ginger is also good for massages and baths. If you grate some ginger (about 4 tablespoons) and put it in a cotton bag (or a clean sock that is thin) and run it under that water during your shower or while filling up bath water, the essential oils and aroma benefit blood circulation and muscular aches. For showering, you could easily attach the bag of ginger to a rubber band and hang that on the shower nozzle so the ginger will combine with the shower water.

Ginger is also great for the skin in the form of a scrub. Mix four parts epsom salt or natural sugar with one part lemon juice and a few tablespoons of grated ginger and rub it on your skin for an exfoliating, rejuvenating experience. You can make a jar of this and have it on hand for regular use or as needed.

Ginger in the form of tea has the same effects, helping ease muscular aches and cramps. As an alternative medicine, some have said that ginger’s pain relieving benefits are so potent as to eliminate the need for ibuprofen or other over the counter pain killers. Ginger tea can be made by seeping ginger (grated or not) in hot water as you would a tea bag, drain, and then enjoy. If you suffer from heartburn, drink this ginger tea regularly with meals and throughout the day as needed for effective relief.

Ginger is highly beneficial to your digestive system as well. It is anti-inflammatory and has healing properties that help ease bloating, nausea, gas, and even motion sickness. This is the reason your mom gave you ginger ale when you had the stomach flu; The healing and pain relieving properties of ginger are exactly the treatment your body needs at that time. However, when you have the flu, be sure to pay careful attention to the ginger ale you are buying, making sure that it contains real, not artificial, ginger and no corn syrup and you’ll be sure to get well.

Gingers digestive aiding properties are also the reason behind the pickled ginger that is always serve with sushi. The strange-looking, pink stuff is served because eating fish and raw food entails the risk of harmful bacteria. Ginger will counteract the effects of any fish that might be a bit too old. For this reason it is also a common treatment for food poisoning.

Alongside of ginger’s benefits to the digestive tract, is the positive effects it has upon the kidneys. It reduces and heals kidney damage, which is especially helpful for those with diabetes, or previous kidney damage. Evidence has also shown that ginger fights cancer cells, especially those related to stomach or ovarian cancer. As mentioned, ginger is also anti inflammatory, so it helps relieve and prevent migraines, which are often caused from inflamed blood vessels in the brain.

A practical way to include ginger in your meals or snacks is to make a green smoothie (with spinach, kale, or lettuce, or all of the above), sweetened with a banana and/or apple, any other fruit in hand, and a bit of ginger root. Begin with a small amount unless you love ginger already, as the flavor is very distinct. When making a sandwich, you could add some shredded ginger. Crystallized ginger can be found at Sprout’s, Wholefoods, and nearly every grocery store and makes a great on-the-go snack. Crystallized ginger also tastes great on vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Below is a recipe that I just tried this week. It is ginger cake, and gives the perfect balance of ginger flavor and just enough sweetness. It tastes so good as a dessert, but is also nutritious with all the benefits of ginger, not to mention it is sweetened with honey. I realize it might be difficult for you to make this recipe here in the dorms, but save it for a break at home, or come borrow my kitchen sometime.

Fresh Ginger Cake:
1/2 cup grated ginger
1/2 cup blackstrap molasses
1/2 cup pure, 100% honey
2/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/2 cup water
6 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup tapioca, buckwheat, almond, rice, and garbanzo bean flours (see note below)
3 tbs teff flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice or pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp powdered ginger
A dash of black pepper
1 tbs apple cider or raspberry vinegar
1/4 cup crystallized ginger (optional)

note: this is a gluten free recipe, since I am gluten free, however, feel free to try it, substituting all the alternative flours with unbleached wheat flour! (Although I can’t tell you how it will turn out as I have never made it that way.)

Preheat oven to 350 F

1. Combine molasses, honey, and oil in a large bowl.
2. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil and add the baking powder.
3. Combine the water mix to the molasses mix and whisk. Add in the ginger.
4. Sift in the flours and spices, bits at a time, mixing well. Lastly add the vinegar and optional crystallized ginger.
5. Oil a small cake pan or a pie pan with melted coconut oil and pour cake mix into it. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool completely, and if desired, sprinkle with some powdered sugar, serve and enjoy!