Friday, December 12, 2008

Spice Up Your Day -- and Your Health


The irresistible aroma and pungent flavor of ginger perks up everything from carrot soup to stir-fries. But with fresh ginger, spicy-great taste is only the beginning. While it's best known for quelling queasy motion sickness, fresh ginger has also been shown to soothe a sour stomach, calm achy joints, reduce cholesterol (one great way to lower your RealAge), thwart artery-clogging clots, kill ovarian cancer cells, quash inflammation, and -- maybe most impressive of all -- fend off the common cold! Ample reason to try these quick and tasty recipes.

Fizzy Refresher

Try your hand at some homemade ginger ale -- you'll never buy the canned stuff again. This recipe from Ellen Michaud's The Healing Kitchen makes it so easy:

Homemade Ginger Ale (serves 4)

4 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

4 teaspoons honey, or more to taste

2 cups seltzer water

Lemon slices


1. Finely chop or shred ginger in a food processor or with a hand grater. Boil 2 cups water and add the ginger. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain.

2. Add honey.

3. Let cool to room temperature. Pour 1/2 cup into a glass. Add seltzer, a lemon slice, and ice. Stir and serve. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Per serving: 23 calories, 6 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fat (0 grams sat.), 0 grams fiber; 0 milligrams cholesterol, 25 milligrams sodium

The Best Digestive

Sipping fresh ginger tea after a hearty meal helps food go down easier. And it tastes great! "The most effective -- and least expensive -- way to brew a cup of ginger tea is to grate two teaspoons of fresh ginger into a cup of just-boiled water," writes Michaud. Steep for 10 minutes, strain, and serve.

Not Just for Christmas

Don't wait for the holidays to bake this sweet favorite. This low-fat treat from EatingWell makes a healthy desert or snack any time of the year:

Old-Fashioned Ginger Bread (serves 12)

1 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour

1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground ginger or 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup molasses

1 cup applesauce

1/2 cup buttermilk

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat an 8x11-1/2-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

2. Whisk both flours, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

3. Place egg, sugar, and oil in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on high speed until thick and creamy. Reduce speed to low and beat in molasses and applesauce.

4. With a rubber spatula, gently mix reserved dry ingredients and buttermilk into egg mixture, making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 additions of buttermilk. (Do not overmix.)

5. Scrape batter into prepared pan. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack. Serve warm.

Per serving: 243 calories, 47 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fat (1 grams sat.), 18 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams protein, 2 grams fiber, 128 milligrams sodium

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