Ginger is one of my kitchen staples and I appreciate its versatility as a kitchen spice for both savoury and sweet dishes. Although I have heard many words to describe the flavour of ginger such as “hot, zesty, biting, sweet, warm”, it can generally be relied on to add a spiciness, juiciness and pungency to cooking. Ginger is available in several forms including fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, crystallized, and powdered and can be used in many different ways.
Not only is ginger valued for the bite it adds in the kitchen but, historically, ginger has also been used as a natural preservative, a tonic to treat common ailments and is renowned in both Eastern and Western medicine as a digestive aid. After the holiday season, which can involves eating more rich foods than normal or, in general day-to-day eating, ginger can serve as a natural remedy to assist with the digestive process.
Ginger and digestion
Alia Dalal refers to Aryurveda medicine in which ginger is considered a tool to increase “digestive fire” which helps to better break down and assimilate food. Scientific research indicates that ginger seems to aid digestion and speed the movement of food from the stomach to the small intestine by stimulating the flow of saliva, bile, and gastric enzymes. In addition, Dalal explains that “ginger is a carminative, which means that it relaxes the smooth muscle of the intestines and helps both prevent and eliminate gas”.
Origins of Ginger
Today, India is considered the greatest producer of ginger in the world but according to Ginger History, ginger first appeared in the southern parts of ancient China and from there spread to India and the rest of the Asia and West Africa. When the ancient Romans traded with India in the 1st century, Europe saw ginger for the first time.
It seems that ginger has been traded throughout history longer than most other spices and although readily available in supermarkets today, in the Middle Ages ginger was so highly prized that the value of a pound of ginger was the same as that of a live sheep. That would certainly add a complexity to grocery shopping if we still needed to barter with livestock for a piece of this knobbly root.
Recipe for Raw Ginger Bites
With respect to digestion, there are several ways to incorporate ginger, during or after a meal, such as ginger tea, ginger tonic or candied ginger. This recipe was inspired by Deliciously Ella and these no bake raw ginger bites are packed with grated ginger, are quick and easy to make and freeze well. The dates and date syrup provide a touch of sweetness making them a perfect post-meal treat to satisfy a sweet tooth as well as contribute to digestion.
- 90 g rolled oats
- 10 pitted and chopped medjool dates
- 60 g hazlenuts
- 5 tbsps freshly grated ginger
- 3 tbsps date syrup
- Blend all ingredients in a food processor until well combined
- Use tablespoon to scoop out mixture and use hands to roll into a ball and then place on baking tray
- Use any flat surface to squish each ball down to form a biscuit shape
- Add a piece of crystallized ginger for decoration if desired and leave in fridge to firm up for at least an hour
- If you find the mixture too soft and overly sticky, add more ground oats or oat flour until it reaches a texture that doesn’t stick too much to your hands when rolling.
- The finished product will be softer in texture compared with a baked cookie (biscuit).
Along with its prowess as a digestive aid, ginger also has a long “folkloric” reputation as a motion-sickness antidote and there are stories of commercial fishermen chewing on ginger root when at sea to ward off bouts of seasickness. To get a sense of what this practice was like, I tried chewing on raw ginger. What can I say – it certainly evoked a “fire” of sorts!
If stranded out at sea and feeling ill, more power to the sailors if this method worked. Fortunately, today there are usually a few more palatable options to reap the benefits of ginger. As it naturally pairs well with honey, lemon, and many fruits, it can easily be made into a tasty tea or tonic if needed to combat nausea on dry land. I don’t know how effective these raw ginger bites would be for sailors to curb their sea sickness but they definitely make an appealing after dinner treat to satisfying the sweet craving and, at the same time, assist with digestion.
Other Raw or No Bake Recipes: