If you haven’t been sick yet this winter, congratulations! It seems everyone is coming down with colds and flus. I hope you’ve fared better, but whether or not you found yourself in that unmistakable cold and painful sweat or made a new hobby of nose-blowing this holiday season, ginger should be at the top of your flu-season food list. Luckily, it tastes delicious!
Rebecca of MindBodyGreen offers another delicious round-up of ginger recipes here.
The touted benefits of ginger are too numerous to list here, but if you’re curious, a quick Google search will turn up more information than you could ever read. I want to talk specifically here about how it can help you fend off (or recover from) the various wintertime funks, and more importantly, pass on some recipes!
First and foremost, ginger is the rhizome of the Zingiber officinale plant, commonly used in African, Asian, and Caribbean cooking. And, of course, here in the West, we like our ginger ale and ginger snaps! Its flavor is spicy in a unique way that I would describe as being in between garlic and horseradish, but it has a sweet undertone that does lend itself well to dessert recipes.
Aside from being spicy and delicious, ginger is strongly antiviral. In fact, it contains ten antiviral compounds. Also in ginger’s tool belt are antibacterial, antibiotic, and antimicrobial properties. Germ-fighting foods like ginger can help us fend off all sorts of illnesses as we become exposed to them, and support our bodies in recovering should we actually get sick.
If you are one of the unlucky ones struck down by the winter yuckies, there are a number of ways in which ginger can help you get back on your feet quickly. Its diaphoretic property (its ability to make us sweat) helps the body to push out toxins. You can consume ginger to encourage sweating, and you can put it in your bath water too. Director of the North American Institute of Medical Herbalism Paul Bergner, citing various studies on fevers, summarizes that using aspirin or NSAIDs to bring down a fever increases the severity of symptoms and the length of the infection. Furthermore, he states that antibody production (optimized at 103o) goes way up during a fever.
Theoretically, ginger may also help with the stomach upset and achiness associated with being sick. It has long been used in many cultures for stomach aches, indigestion, and nausea, and it is anti-inflammatory! Furthermore, this incredible root possesses a lymph-moving property, which helps the lymphatic system move toxins through and out of the body. This movement of toxins may help keep you from getting sick, or help you recover more quickly if you are sick.
All right, enough about what ginger can do for you—let’s get to the delicious part! Each of these recipes is wonderful for prevention or cure!
Honey has its own antibiotic properties, too! Always grab raw honey if you can, though, as pasteurized honey has had most of the health benefits cooked out of it.
This frozen bone broth offers endless uses, not the least of which being something you can thaw and eat when you lack both the energy to cook and an appetite for real food. (I have an ailing dog with chronic allergies; I feed her bone broth every day, and it has helped her skin condition immensely. Really, endless uses!) This stuff can also be your broth when you make any kind of soup at all, because it is so good for you, you really couldn’t eat too much of it.
This is another one that will freeze very well. You can make up giant batches of soups like this one, put it in jars, and freeze it to have on hand when you need it. Especially if you happen to have a spare freezer, this is the perfect way to use up all those carrots they have at the grocery store / farmer’s market / CSA in the fall. In my house, we eat squash, carrot, and corn soups from the freezer all winter long. Plus, a quart of something like this makes a sweet get-well gift for a sick friend or neighbor!
This same technique can be applied to all sorts of things—elderberry, lime, pineapple, basil, strawberries, rose hips, raspberries, just to name a few. You could really go down a rabbit hole with this one!
Don’t be afraid to boost the amounts of ginger and garlic in this recipe to give it an extra kick. The more the merrier when it comes to fighting the funk! It would be great to use coconut oil if you have it, because it offers tons of its own immune-boosting goodness. And, here’s a tip for your rice: Try using twice as much water as the instructions say. Why? Normally, grains like rice steal hydration from your body. If you use the extra water, it won’t. And, it doesn’t make the rice soggy like you’d think; it’s quite yummy! Add some clarified butter and fresh-squeezed lemon to that rice, and you’ve got a rich, almost decadent side that is delicious all by itself.
If you haven’t used ginger before, I hope you’ve found some inspiration here to get creative with it; and if you’re a seasoned veteran, it is my wish that you found something new and exciting. Either way, may your use of the recipes I’ve gathered here prove curative, if not preventative. Stay well, and enjoy!