Adding a Spicy Zing to Sweet Apple Cider

ginger-turmeric-ciderFor cold weather, a hot drink like our Ginger and Turmeric Hot Cider warms you up fast. Its combination of ginger and turmeric add cancer-preventive compounds to the cider’s phytochemicals for a naturally sweet drink that is at once spicy and soothing.

Turmeric is the spice that gives curry powder its yellow color. By itself, dried ground turmeric doesn’t taste very strong and has a slightly peppery, earthy quality. But its health-protective qualities that are similar to ginger’s. Both are roots that contain compounds found in research studies to have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that protect cells against damage linked to cancer.

The color of turmeric comes from the phytochemical curcumin. The spice was used as a yellowing dye since 600 BCE, according to archeological finds in Assyria. It was less expensive than saffron, and has traditionally been used in India to color the rice served at weddings, a cosmetic, a skin tonic and as a folk remedy for stomach and liver ailments.

If you can find fresh turmeric root at an Asian or health food market, try it in this recipe; if not, just use ¼ teaspoon of dried turmeric for each serving of cider. A dash of ground turmeric can also be added to brown rice while it cooks to make the color more appealing, as well as stirred into lentil, green pea or tomato soup to enhance flavor. Hummus dip, salad dressing and stir-fries are other tasty places for turmeric.

Ginger gives a spicy zing to winter dishes. It not only adds a kick to cider, but minced fresh ginger is a key ingredient for Asian-style stir-fries and garlic sauces and tastes great in baked fruit recipes like apple crisp or fruit compote. Most grocery stores carry fresh ginger root – a little bit gives you a lot of flavor, much more than dried ground ginger.

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Healthy, Hearty Sweet Potato Bean Soup

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Photo by Heather Victoria Photography

Beans have always come in handy when animal proteins were scarce; now they can stand in for red meat when you’re trying to cut back to eating no more than 3 ounces of lean red meat per day, as AICR recommends for lower cancer risk.

For a warming and satisfying meal, look no further than our Health-e-Recipe for Sweet Potato Bean Soup. Almost a stew, This rich-tasting soup is based on a rich low-sodium chicken broth enhanced with tomato paste, a product high in the protective phytochemical lycopene.

Simmered with nutritious onions and celery, chopped sweet potato chunks add plenty of the cancer-preventive phytochemical beta-carotene (also present in other orange vegetables and fruits, like carrots). Continue reading


The Medieval Roots of Ginger (and our Gingerbread Cookies)

Spicy ginger deserves a warm welcome for the holidays as the chill of winter sets in. The root has been grown in Asia for millennia and is used fresh, sliced or minced, in all kinds of savory dishes. Its health-boosting phytochemicals and possible ability to quell an upset stomach also make it popular around the world as a tea, candy and dried and as a ground spice in baked sweets.Candied fresh and ground ginger on rustic table

Historians have traced European use of gingerbread back to the Crusades in the 11th century. Medieval folk would mix together ground almonds, stale breadcrumbs, rosewater, sugar and ginger them press it into molds sometimes carved in the likeness of royal family members or religious symbols. Shakespeare referred to gingerbread in his play “Love’s Labor’s Lost,” and gingerbread was reputedly a favorite food of Queen Elizabeth.

ginger-lemon-cookies croppedToday we have the luxury of flour to use in making fragrant gingerbread loaves and cookies to spice up the winter holidays. Molasses and brown sugar give gingerbread the characteristic taste and chewiness we enjoy today.

AICR’s Health-e-Recipe for Ginger Snaps are crisp outside and soft inside, using less fat as well as some whole-wheat flour to make them better for your healthy, plus cinnamon and a dash of black pepper for extra zing. At 75 calories and only 3 grams of fat per cookie, they’re less unhealthy than some other holiday treats and one or two will satisfy the gingerbread fan in you.

Controlling the Crispness

If you like crisper cookies, use a non-dairy stick shortening that is a blend of oils. Or, for a softer texture, use a soft tub spread instead for cookies that have a crisp outer layer then turn chewy overnight. The softer cookies’ batter can be dropped from a spoon onto your baking sheet.

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For more yummy AICR recipes using ginger, try Carrot Soup with Orange and Ginger, Ginger Carrot Salad with Cranberries and Asian Chicken with Honey and Ginger.