By Lori Foster of Spice of Life
Ginger is a spice that knows no boundaries. It can jump-start your meal with an enthusiastic appetizer, add zest to your main course, and finish with a dessert that lingers on the palate. Transforming each dish into something completely different on the tongue, ginger has a magical way of adapting itself and delivering a unique quality all its own.
Hot, spicy, energizing, healing… The story of ginger spans the globe, reaching countless cuisines and identifying classic dishes. Not only does ginger burst with flavor, but it also is a powerhouse of healing benefits.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is native to tropical forests in southeastern Asia and is now grown widely around the world, from Hawaii to Africa, Australia and many other countries. Ginger grows underground as a horizontal stem, or rhizome, with beautiful green upright shoots reaching to the sun. Close relatives are turmeric and galangal which also grow as rhizomes.
Warm, woody, peppery heat with tender sweetness jumps out at you as ginger mingles with other ingredients. Classic Asian dishes, Indian curries, Middle Eastern and European cuisines all crave the boldness of ginger. Complimentary flavors that marry well with ginger are garlic, lemongrass, chili, turmeric, citrus, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and saffron to name a few.
What would the holidays be without ginger? Gingerbread cookies, ginger snaps, and of course, pumpkin spice blends with ginger being a key ingredient. Try adding molasses to ginger cookies which gives a softer texture and almost caramel flavor. Sauteed, tender carrots with fresh shredded ginger and garlic or roast winter squash with a dusting of ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg to bring about the warming flavors of winter.
Not only does ginger taste delicious, but the medicinal benefits are also pretty impressive as well.
Ginger is among the healthiest spices in the world with countless studies and reports throughout history showing effective results. Ginger’s ability to calm upset stomachs and motion sickness has been a comfort for many. It can also help relieve digestive problems, soothe morning sickness and nausea. During the cold and flu seasons, ginger is the perfect spice to keep on hand to combat sickness. Strong anti-inflammatory properties help with arthritis and other conditions while offering a wide array of important vitamins and minerals. Natural remedies like ginger are a great alternative to reaching for over-the-counter medications for relief. Steeping ginger with peppermint and chamomile in a cup of hot water makes a great tea to help relax, calm and soothe the body.
Visit Lori at Spice of Life at 1306, Pine St., Paso Robles, CA 93446 for more information on seasonal spices and healthy recipes.