Ginger to the Rescue!

For the past week I have been doing an experiment with fresh ginger root to cure my back pain and muscle strain in order to avoid popping Advil or Naproxen everyday. Since the NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) were hardly effective, I looked to nature for a different answer.

Ever since I began making batches of ginger tea last Friday, March 21st, my body has gone through an extensive healing process. My sore and tense muscles have relaxed and restored themselves to a state of calm and contentment. Due to overuse at work ( lifting), and heightened stress and anxiety, I suffered random aches all over my body: My back, ribs, sternum, chest wall, feet, etc for the past 2 weeks. I tried all kinds of creams, rubs, hot packs and cold packs. The only thing that really helped was this beautiful plant.

So now I’ll show you how to make some ginger tea of your own.

Grab a chunk of ginger root, peel it and mince it up.  I usually use about 2 tablespoons because I like it a bit strong, but you can decrease  the amount to your liking. The spicyness sometimes scares people off, but I like it because I know it’s working.

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Fill a pot of water, about 10 ounces and add the minced ginger. You can add another type of tea such as chai or green tea, and a sweetener such as honey or stevia to the pot. I always make it strong because I prefer it that way. I wouldn’t recommend adding white sugar, because I find that it defeats ginger’s healing purpose and increases inflammation in my body, making me all achy and stressed. I don’t know if this is scientifically proven, it’s just from my personal experience.  Sugar always declares war on my body and also makes me tired. It’s kind of evil, hence my limited sugar diet.

Bring the water to a boil, lower heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.

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Place a strainer or colander over a coffee cup,  scoop the tea out of the pot and pour it over the strainer until the cup is full. Enjoy! I recommend making batches of tea a day or two ahead of time and concealing it in a glass container or jar in the refrigerator.

Ginger is perfectly safe to eat raw, which some people do, but the taste can be quite strong and unpleasant. Check with your doctor to see if any of your medications interact with taking ginger regularly.

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Stir Fry with Baked tofu and Peanut Sauce

One of the first meals you will ever learn how to cook as a vegetarian, or as an adult, is a stir fry. It’s probably one of the easiest, and quickest things to make in the world. No stir fry is treated equally, nor do they all have to look and taste the same.

I scoff at by-the-book folks who scowl and burp out ignorant comments like “This is not how you make this”, or “It’s supposed to have chili paste.” Oh really, every version of every single dish is SUPPOSED to be the same? According to whom? The Holy Book of Cooking? Just because your mom used only snow peas and sprouts in her stir fry doesn’t mean that’s the right way to make it. If that was the case, I would go on a hunger strike and vow not to eat anything. What a boring life that would be.

Here at Ottawa Green Cuisine rules are made to be broken, honey! Squash them all like a bug!

You can basically do whatever you want when cooking this classic week night wonder, as you combine your own ingredients and establish your own rules. It’s also an excellent dish to train yourself on as you learn how to cook. I whipped up thousands of stir fries on a hot plate in my dorm room back in the day as the rest of the student population with meal plans bloated themselves with processed carbs and fats.

I mixed things up with the sauce, like I always do, and added peanut butter in the absence of cornstarch and brown sugar and it sure was a hit.  I may not please most Asian food purists but I really don’t care, I know how to make a mean stir fry based on the style that works for me. And damn girl, do they ever taste good! Just ask the tall, hungry man that lives with me.

Stir Fry

* 1 package Organic Firm Tofu, sliced into 1 inch cubes

* 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

* 1 head of Broccoli, chopped into florets

* 2 Carrots, peeled, sliced lengthwise and diced

*1/2 cup green beans

* 1 Red bell pepper, diced

* 1 yellow onion, diced

You can also add any of the following:

Snow peas, bean sprouts, bok choy, mushrooms, green onions or shredded carrots.

Sauce

*1-2 tbsp Soy sauce

* 1 tbsp Sesame Oil

* 1 tbsp Creamy Peanut butter

*Pinch of red pepper flakes

About an hour before cooking time, prepare the tofu in a marinade. Pat and dry with a paper towel and slice the block into strips and the strips into 1 inch cubes. Toss the cubes into some soy sauce and sesame oil in a tupperware container. Shake the container lightly to make sure the sauce covers the tofu. Keep in refrigerator for one hour.

Once tofu is marinated and all your veggies are chopped and ready to go, get your stir fry sauce ready. Whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, peanut butter and red pepper flakes in a bowl. Set aside.

Now it’s time to get that tofu into the oven to bake. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread cubes on a baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes until nice and crispy. This baking step is optional, I just happen to like my tofu extra crispy.

Once the tofu is out of the oven, heat oil in a large skillet, add onions and cook until translucent. Stir fry broccoli, carrots, and peppers until they are softened.  Add the tofu and stir in the sauce ,coating  the vegetables and tofu for about 5 minutes or so.  Add the green beans towards the end.

Finito. You’re done.  Serve in bowls with a scoop or two of brown rice.

Enjoy, my friends. That’s all for today. See ya next time!