Black, Blue, and Ginger

So, what a terrible morning it has been for me!   I woke up with my right eye nearly swollen shut and have to cancel most plans for the day.  This would probably make more sense if I explained the events of last night:

In an attempt to make me feel better about not eating while I am ten days through my juice fast, my boyfriend decided it would be a fun idea to dance to "Disco Inferno" in the kitchen.  I normally spend a lot of my free time in the kitchen cooking and what not, but this week of juicing I've just felt sad to not be doing one of my favorite hobbies, cooking.  As we were dancing, we starting throwing in some crazy moves like that elbow-to-knee jerk thing.   I was pretty fun and cheering me up until he went low to the ground and came up right as I was going down.  We flat out head-butted!  I hit the top of his head, which hurt him for a bit, but left no bump or bruise.  I, however, ended up getting hit just below my right brow bone, resulting in my eye swelling partially shut and looking black and blue this morning.  I've been icing it when I haven't been sleeping and it hasn't seem to be improving.  Needless to say Kevin felt awful and spent the rest of the night cheering me up with jokes, mostly Rocky jokes like "Cut me Mick!"  The only... ONLY good thing about this is that it gives me something to focus my attention on besides not being able to eat for three more days.

Well on to the topic of the post: the use of ginger.  (Because I can't eat yet, this is the most foreign ingredient I use in my juices, so we're going to talk about it's benefits rather than me cooking something I won't be able to enjoy.)  My first exposure to the ginger root was probably that pink shavings of ginger that come on sushi plates.  I always thought this tasted like soap and never wanted to try it again.  The next time I saw it was in a recipe for Thai spicy peanut sauce with noodles (I will have a nutritarian version of this recipe next Wok Wednesday), in which I just used powdered ginger.  But, the juicing fast changed my view of the use of ginger drastically.  (Yes, ginger can be juiced!) Because it has been one of the more flavor-able things I can use in my juice, I have put it in just about every one.

This rhizome is native to southeast Asia and is produced commercially in Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia, and Australia.  Along with adding unique flavor to many dishes, ginger also has some claimed health benefits including some in the following list:

  • Migraine relief
  • Menstrual cramp relief
  • Prevention of several types of cancers
  • Nausea relief
  • Anti-inflammatory effects
  • Boosts the immune system
  • and many more!

How to select and store for cooking purposes:  
  1. Choose authentic over fake: the fresh root not only has better flavor than its dried counterpart, but it contains higher amounts of the active health-benefiting ingredients, gingerol and protease.
  2. Pick a root that is firm, smooth, and mold free.
  3. It comes in two forms: young or mature
    • Young is found primarily in Asian markets and doesn't need to be peeled.
    • Mature is found at most grocery stores and has a tougher skin that requires peeling.
  4. Ginger is also available in other forms such as crystallized, candied, and pickled ginger.
  5. Store fresh ginger in the fridge for up to three weeks, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Although ginger can't cure swollen black eyes, that I know of, it is still a great and interesting ingredient to keep on hand for use in Asian and Indian dishes as well as in smoothies and juices.

What is your experience with ginger?  What recipes do you use it most often in?  Have you ever cured or relieved anything by using ginger or a product with ginger in it (i.e. ginger ale)?

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