What do you think of when you hear fresh, summer recipes? When we think of meals that are prepared for the hot and humid months of summer, many of us think of fresh ingredients like citrus fruits, melons, peaches, or vegetables. It’s common to crave hydrating foods like strawberries, cucumbers, and tomatoes, but what about adding a root vegetable in your dish? Yes, that’s right, we’re talking about ginger root!
The Benefits of Ginger
Of all the spices on the planet, ginger is among one of the healthiest with its ever-growing list of beneficial properties. This flowering plant that originated in China is loaded with bioactive compounds and nutrients are known to have amazing benefits for the body and the brain. It helps to promote detoxification, maintain a healthy metabolism, and boost your immune system. (1)
Promotes a Healthy Stress Response
Stress is a natural response from our immune system. One of ginger’s amazing health benefits is its ability to support our body’s natural inflammatory response to stress. The main bioactive compound found in ginger, called gingerol, helps inhibit the synthesis of the molecules that produce inflammatory responses within the body. (2) So when your body is in a state of stress and its “fight or flight” flags are being triggered, consuming ginger can help to support your body during these inflammatory reactions.
Supports Exercise-Induced Muscle Soreness
Another amazing trait ginger has to offer us is its ability to be effective for relieving discomfort for sore muscles due to exercise. One study, published in The Journal of Pain, showed that a daily dose of ginger helped to ease the discomfort that was caused by exercise-induced muscle soreness. Researchers looked at the effects of two grams of raw or heat-treated ginger in two separate groups. The participants within the experiment performed various exercises designed to induce muscle soreness over an 11-day period while some took the ginger supplements and others took a placebo pill. The daily consumption of ginger resulted in a healthier response to muscle soreness. (3)
Here are a few recipes to get you in the summer spirit while delivering your body with the amazing benefits ginger has to offer!
Mango Ginger Smoothie
This smoothie is great for those looking for a tropical oasis from the comfort of their home! You’ll get a large serving of greens all within one shake, producing a beautiful bright green drink that looks as delicious as it tastes!
1 cup coconut water
1 cup baby spinach
1 lime, peeled
1 cup frozen mango, or 1 whole mango peeled
½ tsp ginger
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Top with a slice of ginger!
Summer Ginger Dressing
This dressing recipe can be used on any salad, grain or rice bowl, or even a marinade for proteins that you may be roasting or grilling! *See Cashew Ginger Chicken Salad for extended recipe*
2 tbsp grated, fresh ginger
½ tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp liquid aminos
½ tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup rice vinegar
⅓ cup olive oil
In a large jar or small bowl, combine ingredients. Store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
Cashew Ginger Chicken Salad
The lightness from the spinach and cabbage, along with the sweetness of the mandarins, and crunch that comes with the nuts and seeds, will satisfy all the cravings among those who try this dish! Enjoy for yourself or bring to a cookout as a side item!
Summer Ginger Dressing
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
8 ounces fresh baby spinach
1 cup of shredded red cabbage
2 large carrots (shredded)
3 green onions (thinly sliced)
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges, drained
¾ cup roasted, salted cashews
2 tbsp sesame seeds
Pour ¾ cup of the Summer Ginger Dressing into a large shallow dish. Add in chicken and coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Once done marinating, drain chicken and place in a 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Broil for 4-6 minutes on each side (until internal temperature reads 165 degree F). Cut chicken into strips. Serves 8.
Place spinach on a serving platter, arranging chicken, oranges, carrots, cabbage, and green onions on top. Lightly sprinkle the cashews and sesame seeds on top. Serve with the rest of your Summer Ginger Dressing either on the side or drizzle and toss in salad.
Mint and Ginger Lemonade
The perfect “lay by the pool” or “cook-out” mocktail for summertime. This drink combines a perfect amount of sweetness and zesty flavor that not only tickles your taste buds, but also satisfies your body’s need for hydration during these hot months. The mint, ginger, and lemon all work together to hydrate your cells and deliver antioxidants throughout your body, helping to boost your immune system. This cooling refresher is great to sip on throughout the entire day!
1 ½ cups cold water
2 cups boiled water
½ cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup chopped fresh ginger
1/3 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
In a large bowl, add boiled water, mint, ginger, and honey and mix well. Let steep for 30 minutes. Add in the rest of the water and lemon juice and let steep for another 30 minutes.
Place in the refrigerator to get cool. Serve and enjoy! Makes 4 servings.
Now that you are set up for success in spicing up your summer dishes, it’s your turn to go try them out and experiment! Whether you are incorporating ginger root into your diet for its health benefits or just to add a little zest to your sweet and savory dishes, both your body and your taste buds will thank you!
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