Oh (Ginger) Snap!

It's taken a little longer than usual to get to posting this week. Even though I've had relevant ideas flinging through my head like ping-pong balls, I've been a seriously reluctant writer, even when it comes to the randomly casual sort of messaging, like e-mails and Twitter. My head has been too cloudy, having caught a bad cold that seems to be taking down our school, knocking off students and teachers like flies. For me, the result is, of course, sinus pressure in the left side of my face...it's always sinus pressure, as close to an Achilles heel for me as anything I can think of.  So, amidst a swirl of just barely maintaining the Boston training, getting through work and obligations with deadlines, and trying to heal and alleviate symptoms through steaming, acupuncture, neti pot, and just about anything you can think of that might help, my head's been in a fuzz. As such, any post (like this one) is sure to be even more prone to rambling than usual; thus, until today I figured the stream-of-consciousness garble would be too annoying to inflict on anyone, even if that "anyone" turned out to be just myself, Dave, and my little sis. On the other hand, some kitchen concoctions directly responding to the puffy left side of my face may be usefully shared. I guess the title of this post is rather misleading, since the recipes coming up are nothing like ginger snaps outside of the inclusion of ginger. I just liked the phrase (I told you already, my brain is feeling foggy).  And there is a connection. While I've been trying to fight inflamed sinuses, Dave has been dealing with inflammation of the posterior tibial tendon, likely brought on and/or aggravated by a race recently--10 miles and a lot of fun, but held completely on concrete bike path. He was advised by a trusted expert to try including more ginger in his diet to promote recovery, and came home with a MASSIVE ginger root, about 5 inches long and 3 inches at its widest. Ha! I couldn't refrain from a little wry amusement, as while I LOVE ginger, Dave was until recently more likely to associate the word with "snap" than "root", and wasn't actually aware that he had tried it many times. (He has since conceded that while it can be really delicious, it is something of an "acquired taste". )

I've written about ginger on this blog before, though mainly in the context of its history in effectively alleviating symptoms of GI distress. Modern scientific research further reveals that ginger possesses a range of therapeutic properties, including an ability to inhibit the formation of inflammatory compounds, as well as direct anti-inflammatory effects. Naturally, the surprise purchase inspired a ginger kick, and I've been planning out weeks' worth of ginger-laced and ginger-based meals. For Dave's sake, however, I'm staggering them. Here are the two for this week.

Carrot Ginger Soup with Cilantro serves 2-3

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 Tbsp ginger, peeled and sliced thin
  • Approximately 6 medium carrots
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1  maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Dash each of sea salt and black pepper
  • salt to taste
  • Plain yogurt (optional)

1. Heat oil, 1/4 cup of the broth, broth, onion, ginger, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Saute until onions are translucent, about 2 minutes.

2. Add remaining broth, carrots, and syrup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until carrots are soft and easily broken with a fork. 3. Remove pan from heat and allow soup to cool slightly before processing in batches.

4. Process cilantro and 1/2 cup water to make a slurry. Stir into carrot mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Bring soup back to simmer, and serve with a dollop of plain yogurt.

I loved this simple soup, which is vegan and can easily be dairy free by just eliminating the yogurt. I adapted it from this recipe on a great blog, Happy Healthy Life. It reminded me of a carrot and coriander soup I used to eat (from a can!) while we were living in England. I made it more on the chunky than smooth side, but I think it can go either way.

This next recipe used what I happened to have in the house, but could have handled just about any vegetable plus some added proteins. How can you go wrong with noodles? : )

Curried Ginger Noodles with Broccoli and Mushrooms

4 servings

  • 8  ounces  dry udon noodles
  • 2 teaspoons dark  sesame oil
  • 1 medium to large head broccoli, chopped
  • 3  cups  thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 2  tablespoons  grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 1  tablespoon  red curry paste
  • 1  teaspoon  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  ground turmeric
  • 3  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1  cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2  cup  water
  • 1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup  green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4  cup  cilantro leaves

1. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Set noodles aside; keep warm.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sesame oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add broccoli and mushrooms; sauté for 2 minutes. Add  next 5 ingredients (through garlic); cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the broth, 1/2 cup water, soy sauce, and salt. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for approximately 2 minutes . Add noodles and onions and cook until heated through, about 2 minutes, stirring to combine. Serve topped with cilantro.

Photo credit: Flikr user cfwhitney