There are so many things to love about winter: soft, fluffy scarves to bundle up in, holidays to celebrate with loved ones, and of course all the many traditional dishes filled with hearty ingredients and warm spices.
The ingredient that personifies this time of year more than any other for me is ginger. It’s a spicy spice in the best kind of way one that warms you from the inside out. It works in everything from a Thanksgiving cranberry chutney recipe to a simple herbal tea. And ginger is not just about flavor and spice, it’s also one of the most well studied herbs in botanical medicine, with an impressive body of research to support its use for a variety of health conditions including improvement in muscle and joint pain, nausea due to pregnancy or chemotherapy and a variety of other conditions where inflammation plays a role (which is almost everything).
Fun fact: Dried ginger is ten times more healing than fresh
Here are a couple recipes with ginger that I love to make this time of year:
Simple Ginger Tea
I make this tea when I’m feeling cold and a bit lazy. It leaves me feeling instantly warm and healthy.
- Thoroughly wash a chunk of fresh ginger rhizome (root) and use a carrot grater to remove the outer skin
- Slice lengthwise into two or three thick pieces and add one to two slices to a cup of very hot water or tea (green or raspberry leaf are some of my favorite choices)
- Steep for 3-4 minutes and enjoy
I’ve modified this recipe from one I was introduced to while in naturopathic medical school. I love it because you can make a big batch that will last for weeks and it’s fun to get creative with different spices and ingredients. Although this dish can be eaten warm or cold, I like to warm it up in the winter for a stick-to-your-ribs breakfast that provides excellent whole-food nutrition and energy.
- 4 cups rolled grains (e.g. oats, rye, barley, and/or rolled rice flakes)
- 2 cups oat bran
- ½ cup dried, unsulphured fruit (e.g. raisins, dates, blueberries, cranberries)
- 1 cup sunflower seeds and/or pumpkin seeds (can be ground)
- 1 cup raw nuts (e.g. walnuts and almonds)
- 1 cup seeds (e.g. ground flax seed, chia)
- 1 tsp each of one or more of ground ginger
Combine all ingredients, mix well and store in an airtight container for up to two weeks. To make a single serving, scoop a ½ cup into a bowl and add 1 cup liquid (e.g. water, nut milk or dairy milk are all good options). Soak overnight and then heat in microwave in the morning or, to prepare right away, heat in a saucepan until grains are soft and ingredients have absorbed all the liquid.
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Image by Muy Yum