Friday, September 25, 2009

Ginger, Glorious Ginger!

The first time I tasted ginger I have to admit, it was a bit of an assault on my palate. It was too strong and I was not a fan. When a recipe asked for ginger I would add half the amount and it was always perfect for me. Over the years I have become less sensitive to it and now I enjoy it in many dishes.

Having a history of digestive issues, I have heard so many times that ginger is great to ease stomach discomfort but I could never bring myself to actually drink ginger tea. I even went so far as buying the tea but never actually made a cup. Until last night!

I was having a severe bout of heartburn. I was lying on the couch, propped up to try and ease the pain. It wasn't working. I decided that I was desperate so I headed into the kitchen and found my little ginger tea bag from Yogi Tea and brewed up a cup.

Oh the gloriousness of it! I felt my pain melt away as I took the first sip. I almost couldn't believe it! I continued to drink it and I felt amazing in no time. What an incredible find! Never mind that I've known about it for years and never tried it! OK, some of us are slower than others. Don't make the same mistake as I did. Don't be afraid! It wont hurt you and it may even help you.

So what's up with ginger you ask? Well let me tell you a little about it. Ginger is actually a rhizome that grows under the ground. The typical ginger found in the grocery store has a yellow flesh with a brown skin. It is used in Asian dishes and many fruit and veggie dishes.

As mentioned, it is well known for its ability to soothe the gastrointestinal tract. It promotes the elimination of gas and relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract. Scientific studies have proven ginger to be more effective than pharmaceuticals for motion sickness and the nausea and vomitting associated with morning sickness.

Ginger is high in antioxidants which help prevent cancer. It also contains substances that are anti-inflamatory which explains the relief people with arthritis get when they consume ginger regularly. It is also known for other amazing feats like protecting against colorectal cancer, inducing cell death in ovarian cancer cells, and boosting immunity. Wow, it's really a superfood!

It really is best to buy fresh ginger because it has the highest levels of all those good things like antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. You can find it in the produce section of the grocery store year round. Look for ginger that is firm, smooth and free of mold. Young ginger has a thin skin that doesn't need to be peeled but is not as commonly found. Mature ginger has a thicker skin that needs to be peeled. Both can be stored in the refrigerator unpeeled for three weeks or up to six months in the freezer.

Ginger can be added to so many foods for a different little zip. Try making a ginger lemonade, or adding a bit to pureed sweet potatoes or squash. Making your own terriyaki sauce with fresh ginger is delicious and of course you can make some tea and soothe your tummy too! You might even want to try this recipe for ginger drink. It is a pretty strong drink so experiment with it. Add some fruit juice or some club soda for a delightful spritzer. You can even add a little to your favorite tea for an exciting drink that will warm you up.

So have fun with trying out some ginger in your kitchen. Let me know how it goes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gluten Free Zucchini Bread

Pamela's Tried & Tested Zucchini Bread
Yield: one 8 x4 loaf

The kids LOVED it!

2 cups Pamela's Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups grated zucchini, blossom end removed
2 tsp grated lemon zest (optional)
1/4 cup oil
2 eggs
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)

Whisk together Pamela's Ultimate Baking & Pancake Mix, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, oil, and sugar for one minute on medium. Stir in vanilla.

Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients to form a batter. Fold in grated zucchini (along with optional lemon zest and chopped nuts)

NOTE: Baked zucchini loaf will be moist. You can lessen moisture by squeezing grated zucchini in paper towels to absorb some of the water before mixing into the batter.

Turn into greased loaf pan (8x4) and bake in a preheated 350° oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let loaf cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to cool on a wire rack.

Variation: For muffins, fill greased or paper-lined muffin tins 2/3 full and bake in 350° oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
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