Easy Crystallized Ginger

easy crystallized ginger recipe

Easy Crystallized Ginger recipe
makes 2 cups

Crystallized ginger is one of my favorite after dinner sweets and it makes a perfect DIY holiday gift for even a novice cook.  Typically I'm a big advocate for natural, less processed sweeteners like maple syrup or honey, but for this recipe I do use regular sugar mainly for cost and preservation (with sugar, I'm confident it will be shelf-stable for several months).  The other cool thing about this recipe is that it's really 2 recipes: crystallized ginger and ginger syrup! The syrup can be used for cocktails, homemade chai, adding to sparkling water or for baked goods where a liquid sweetener is required.  My fave?  Using the ginger syrup for homemade kombucha!  

1 lb of ginger (will turn into 3 cups of peeled and sliced ginger)
3 cups organic sugar (plus 1/4 cup for tossing)
3 cups water

1. Peel ginger using a vegetable peeler or the edge of a spoon (how-to here).  Thinly slice horizontally into 1/16" coins.  You can use a mandoline or just a sharp knife like I did.  Be sure to cut across the fibers (not with them) so your candy won't be stringy.

2. In a medium pot, combine sugar and water over medium heat until sugar dissolves.  Add ginger and bring to a simmer.  Simmer until ginger is soft and almost translucent, about 45-55 minutes.  

3. Strain ginger via a fine mesh strainer placed over a large bowl.  The bowl will capture your ginger syrup--don't toss this out!  Spread out well-strainer ginger on a cooling rack placed over a sheet tray (to catch extra drips) and let cool and dry, about 2 hours.  It will remain a little tacky.

4. Toss cooled ginger pieces with extra sugar to give them the crystallized look and keep them from sticking together.  Store in jars at room temperature.  Transfer your ginger syrup to a mason jar (or other pretty vessel) and store in the fridge.  Both should last for several months.  Thank you sugar!

Ayurvedic Mukhwas

mukhwas recipe ayurveda

Ayurvedic Mukwas recipe
makes about 1/2 cup or 100 servings

Haven't heard of mukhwas?  If you've ever been to an Indian restaurant and seen a dish of brightly colored candied seeds at the exit, then you know what it is!  Mukhwas are a combination of herbs and seeds--often with fennel as the base--that aid digestion and freshen your breath.  Commerical gums can irritate the digestive tract due to artificial sweeteners and swallowing air, so mukhwas are a nice, natural alternative.  Unfortunately, most commercial mukhwas are super sugary and use artificial coloring to get their pretty presentation.  So here I'm showing you how you can make your own to chew after a meal with a thoughtful combination of spices: fennel, a strong digestive and carminative (anti-gas) herb; sesame seed, calcium rich and considered rejuvenative; crystallized ginger, also a carminative herb and sweet element; dhana dal, the insides of roasted coriander seeds, considered good for digestion especially of spicy foods; and clove, a herb long used for dental health.

3 tablespoons fennel seeds
1 tablespoon dhana dal (the inside portion of roasted coriander seeds, find here)
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/8 teaspoon ground clove
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

1. Heat a dry skillet on low and add fennel seeds, dhana dal, sesame seeds and ground clove.  Stir gently and toast until just lightly fragrant and barely golden.  Remove to a plate or bowl to cool,

2. Add finely chopped crystallized ginger and stir to combine, using your fingers to incorporate the ginger if it's particularly sticky.  Let cool completely and dry out a bit (an hour or so) and then transfer

3.  How to use: After a meal, take approximately 1/4 teaspoon of mukhwas in your hand and put in your mouth.  Chew completely until the seeds break down, they will sort of disappear over 30 seconds or so.  Exercise caution or modify the recipe if you are on any medication or have a health condition where spices or herbs are contraindicated or if you have dental work that seeds can get stuck in. 

Ayurvedic Chai

Ayurvedic Chai
makes 1 cup

This tea uses warming Ayurvedic spices to help you feel warm and nurtured during the cold, dry part of winter.  If you know your dosha, you can customize your tea to better suit your body type.  Take a dosha quiz here.  Since this tea is intended for Fall and Early Winter, it is perfect as-is for Vatas, since those are the Vata seasons.  Kaphas should use less/no sweetener and can add extra ginger and turmeric for pungency and bitterness.  Pittas can go easy on the warming spices but can enjoy this on a cold winter day.  Kaphas can add black tea to this, although Vatas are better off using Rooibos which is less drying and Pittas should be cautious to not go overboard on caffeine.

1.5 cups of almond milk
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
4 cloves
2 black peppercorns
3 slices of fresh ginger
1 rooibos tea bag or 2 teaspoons loose rooibos tea
1 teaspoon coconut oil (optional)
Honey or coconut sugar to sweeten

1. In a small pot, heat almond milk with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, peppercorns, ginger, and rooibos for 10-15 minutes.  Simmer longer if you like more spice.

2. Strain spices and whisk in coconut oil.  Use an immersion blender to emulsify if you find that whisking doesn't totally incorporate the oil.  This will make it frothy like a latte.  Sweeten to taste and serve immediately.  

Bitters and Soda

bitter and soda recipe

Bitters and Soda
1 serving

Bitters and soda is my new go-to drink when I don't feel like drinking and don't want whatever sugary soda or mocktail is available.  Originally used medicinally, bitters are considered digestive aids and are infused with powerful plants.  This drink will be fizzy, lightly flavored and very herbal.  You can add a splash of simple syrup too if you just can't go totally bitter.  Bitters are easy to make at home too--just get a super high proof alcohol drop herbs, spices or roots into it and wait (rosemary + cinnamon + orange peel is a great holiday combo).  Note: this mocktail isn't totally alcohol free--see my note in the full post.

10+ dashes bitters of choice (I used Hella Bitters Ginger Lemon)
8 ounces club soda
slice of lemon

1. Fill a tall collins glass with ice.  Add bitters, soda and lemon. Stir and serve immediately.  

Vanilla Apple Kuzu Pudding

apple kuzu pudding

Serves 2

That's not crack in the photo. It's kuzu! Kuzu pudding is an ubiquitous remedy at the culinary school I graduated from, the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC.  Kuzu is a starchy root from Japan and used a lot in macrobiotic cooking. It’s known to have a calming effect on the body and mind (and is a great sweet for kids for this reason) and has been used to help alcoholics reduce their cravings. Use this pudding to settle an upset stomach or to ease or prevent constipation. Look for kuzu in the international aisle. Kuzu makes a great natural thickener for Asian sauces as well.

1 cup apple juice or cider
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick (or just a piece or pinch)
2 tablespoons kuzu
2 tablespoons water

1. In a small pot, heat apple juice, vanilla and cinnamon until it starts to simmer. In a small bowl or teacup, whisk kuzu and water with a fork. Pour into simmering apple juice and whisk. Mixture will go from cloudy to clear and thicken.

2. Remove cinnamon stick and serve hot or chilled.

Lemon Ginger Turmeric Infusion

Serves 1

Try drinking this infusion first thing in the morning about 30 minutes before breakfast. Your body will thank you, particularly if you just exposed it to a hearty night of drinking. Ginger settles the stomach and improves digestion and turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. If you can't find fresh turmeric, just use a pinch of the powdered spice.

1 lemon
1-inch piece of ginger (unpeeled), sliced
1/2 inch piece of fresh turmeric, sliced
1 1/2 cups of water

1. Using a vegetable peeler, peel two strips of zest off of the lemon and place the strips in a small pot.  Add the ginger and tumeric.  Cover with the 1 1/2 cups of water and put over heat.  Let simmer for 10 minutes.

2. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice from one half into a mug. Pour the ginger-and-lemon-infused hot water through a strainer into the mug.  Find a cozy corner and enjoy.