Last week I came down with a bad infection. As someone who almost never gets sick, being in such an incapacitated state has been frustrating, to say the least – I can hardly believe that when I was younger, kids would get excited about the whole concept. Back then, catching a cold or having the flu meant staying home from school, full authority over the TV remote, eating mom's chicken noodle soup ... Coincidentally, none of those activities were ever particularly thrilling to me. What I did take a liking to, however, was the opportunity to drink a tall glass of ginger ale to soothe an aching stomach.
Ginger is a flowering plant native to Asia, where it's been used medicinally for over 5000 years. Most often we see it as a dried powder or as a knobbly beige root, but no matter the form it can be recognized by that sharp scent and spicy taste. This flavour profile isn't just superficial, though: ginger boosts circulation, generating a physiological warming effect. It's also incredibly anti-inflammatory, which is great for relieving sore joints, menstrual pains, and for promoting radiant skin. But undoubtedly, ginger is most famous when it comes to gut health ... it relaxes the stomach's muscle lining to ease digestion, alleviate cramps, and relieve nausea.
Anyhow, the other day my sister very kindly surprised me with this homemade ginger ale! It was certainly brought back some old memories, which between the sugar and the sickness were both literally and metaphorically bittersweet. Although I drank this on the couch in my pajamas, I think it would go over splendidly at a late-summers' picnic.
HOMEMADE GINGER ALE RECIPE:
Adapted from Food For My Family:
- 1 cup fresh ginger root
- 2 cups water
- ½ cups liquid sweetener of choice
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime peel
- sparkling water
- lime wedges, to serve
Start by peeling and thinly slicing your ginger root. In a medium-sized saucepan, add the ginger root, water, liquid sweetener, and lime peel. Bring this mixture to a boil, and then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. After the time is up, remove the pan from heat and allow the syrup to cool. Strain out the ginger pieces and lime peel – you’ll be left with your ginger syrup! Pour the cooled syrup into an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to use.
To prepare your ginger ale, mix together about 2 tablespoons of syrup with 6 ounces of sparkling water over ice. Stir gently to combine, then garnish with a lime wedge and sip away!
Luckily for all of us, ginger is remarkably versatile. Add it to your stir fry, to autumnal baked goods, or take it pickled with your sushi. Even if you aren't under the weather, this spice will have you on cloud nine in no time.
Main image from Natural Healthy Team