Ginger Bomb Your Way Through Fall

Does the moon play only silver 
When it strums the galaxy 
Dying roses will they will their 
Perfumed rhapsodies to me 
-Joni Mitchell 

Here we are again. The days are getting short, nights epically long. Really, how is it dark at 6 PM? And how did we ever get used to this piercing cold last year? No joke, twice last week I attempted to go for a walk. Both times I made it about half a block and gave up, scurrying back home. It’s October! I worry I’m going to be riddled with bed sores and washing myself with a rag on a stick come December.

Sadly, our Indian summer came to a screeching halt when it was slammed by the pernicious winds of autumn. The air is crisp and dry, the winds so brutal, making the entire body constrict and draw inward. What to do?

In order to counteract the inevitable forces of Vata, one has to seek to balance with opposites. Treat dry with moist, cold with warmth and lots of hugs. To do this, I will be focusing on using ginger root as my defense against these dark, ominous days.

The beautiful rhizome ginger has an abundance of healing properties and is often thought of as “universal medicine.” Referred to as Ardrakam or Shuntha in Sanskrit, the energetics of ginger are pungent (think spicy) while at the same time sweet and warming. Ginger is the perfect antidote for Vata and Kapha dosha, but may be a bit heating for Pitta, so use with awareness.

Ginger has many actions, including:

  • Analgesic- reduces the sensation of pain
  • Antiemetic- helps with nausea
  • Aromatic- intoxicating, uplifting scent
  • Aphrodisiac- Let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on…
  • Carminative- relieves flatulence
  • Diaphoretic- induces sweating
  • Digestive- stimulates our digestive fire to help break down and assimilate with more ease
  • Expectorant- helps clear mucus (this word always makes me think of those little old ladies in church that store tissues up their sleeve)
  • Nervine- soothes fragile nerves
  • Sialagogue- increases the secretion of saliva
  • Stimulant- gets circulation flowing, perfect for winter

Behold, I present 3 recipes to pack some ginger into these frigid months. The vehicles to incorporate this root? A steaming mug of tea, a bath and cookies. How could one go wrong? Pure Vata management meets hedonism at its finest.

Simple Ginger Tea
Ingredients: 

  • 1 inch chunk of fresh ginger- sliced
  • ¼ Lemon
  • 1 tsp Raw Honey (optional)

Method:

  1. Place the sliced ginger in a small saucepan and add 3 cups of water.
  2. Bring to a boil, lower heat and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat, let cool to a palatable temperature.
  4. Before drinking add a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of raw honey.

This is a great beverage to have in the morning or 30 minutes before meals. It helps to get the gastric juice flowing, leading to stronger digestion. While technically a sugar, in Ayurveda, honey is perceived as a Kapha pacifying food that is scraping and heating. Due to these qualities, it is often recommended as a tool to help with weight-loss.

Like ginger, lemon is also classified as a digestive stimulant and is quite heating. To top that off, it is loaded with Vitamin C, infamous for bolstering the immune system. PS- Having strong digestion will inevitably lead to a potent immune system. 

Ginger Bath
Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup Powdered Ginger
  • 1/3 cup Baking Soda
  • 1 Bad-ass bath tub- Claw foot, Double slipper, Japanese soaking….or whatever you can get your hands on.

Method:

  1. Draw a warm bath, add the ginger powder and baking soda.
  2. Soak away your anxiety with this powerful stress-relieving formula.

​The aromatics of the ginger will help open the lungs, increase circulation and stimulate warmth. A perfect remedy for a rainy afternoon. While you’re at it,  dim the lights (another great way to calm Vata) and play soothing music.

And finally, courtesy of my favorite food blog 101cookbooks.com, Triple Ginger Cookies! Vata dosha is pacified by foods that are sweet, sour or salty. Thus, some sweet cookies to accompany your tea and bath.

Triple Ginger Cookies

Feel free to use all-purpose flour if that is what you have on hand. Again, in regards to the ginger – mince it as if you were trying to turn it into a paste. Two sugar coating. In my most recent batch of these I used a big, flaked, smoked sea salt along with sugar to finish the cookies, so that is something to experiment with as well, but totally optional. I grind whole star anise in my spice grinder and then do a bit of sifting.

1/2+ cup large-grain sugar (i.e. turbinado)
2 cups spelt flour OR whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon star anise, finely ground
4 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup unsulphured molasses (I use Wholesome Sweeteners brand)
2/3 cup fine grain natural cane sugar, sifted
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 large egg, well beaten
1 cup crystallized ginger, then finely minced
2 lemons, zest only

Preheat the oven to 350F degree – racks in the top and bottom 1/3 of the oven. Line a couple baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper or a Silpat mat, place the large-grain sugar in a small bowl, and set aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, star anise, ground ginger, and salt.

Heat the butter in a skillet until it is just barely melted. Stir in the molasses, natural cane sugar, and fresh ginger. The mixture should be warm, but not hot at this point, if it is hot to touch let it cool a bit. Whisk in the egg. Now pour this over the flour mixture, add the crystallized ginger (make sure it isn’t too clumpy), and lemon zest. Stir until just combined.

I like these cookies tiny, barely bite-sized, so I scoop out the dough in exact, level tablespoons. I then tear those pieces of dough in two before rolling each 1/2 tablespoon of dough into a ball shape. From there, grab a small handful of the big sugar you set aside earlier and roll each ball between your palms to heavily coat the outside of each dough ball. Place dough a few inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until cookies puff up, darken a bit, get fragrant and crack.

Makes about 4 dozen or so.

And there you have it, 3 ways to stimulate digestion and circulate heat in an entirely doable, and delicious manner. Take that October!

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