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Amber Ginger Ale
By Cheryl Forberg, RD




Ginger not only has a powerful flavor – it’s an all-around healthy ingredient. High in anti-aging antioxidants, ginger also promotes production of bile in the liver and gallbladder, which helps break down fats. It also contains a combination of plant chemicals that can aid digestion and ease motion sickness. That’s why some mothers used to give their children ginger ale when they had the flu. The soda pop probably didn’t contain much of ginger’s active ingredients (gingerol and shogaol) but ginger has been long associated with its anti-emetic (anti-nausea) effects.

I remember working as a volunteer in an experimental cancer ward in San Francisco years ago. In addition to soothing colors of paint on the walls and relaxing music everywhere, this atypical hospital setting aimed to make their terminal patients feel more at home, even though they couldn’t be. I used to come in once a week to bake for the patients and their families and the scent of warm cinnamon rolls or freshly baked cookies was always welcomed. One week I prepared a triple ginger muffin (fresh ginger, dry ginger and candied ginger). One of the doctors told me that the ginger punch of my muffins was better than any anti-nausea medicine he could prescribe.

Native to southern Asia, ginger plants give us warm flavors that lend an exotic perfume and a peppery punch to everyday dishes. Also, a member of the ginger family, cardamom is a warm, slightly astringent, citrusy spice used in Indian dishes such as garam masala and is also found in northern European baked goods, such as sweet pastry breads. In Middle Eastern culture, it’s a familiar scent in many households where it’s steeped daily for tea.



When used fresh, ginger root is both refreshingly pungent and hot, adding distinctive zing to beverages, soups, poultry and fish. Dried and crushed to a powder, ginger is a popular flavor for baked goods. It’s also sold candied as well.

This is one of my favorite beverages on a hot day and it’s easy to prepare because you can make the syrup ahead of time. If you prefer to try it hot, you can add boiling water to the syrup instead of carbonated water.

This pungent extract is a great way to get an antioxidant fix between meals. For a super-charged sipper, replace the sparkling water with a vibrantly-hued fruit juice or iced green tea. And for a high octane version, mix one ounce Ginger Syrup with one ounce dark rum over ice and top with splash of sparkling water and lime wedge.

Yield: 1½ pints syrup; 7 (10-ounce) servings

Ingredients:



Ginger Syrup:

3 cups water
1/2 cup grated, peeled fresh ginger - about 8 oz. unpeeled ginger)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup Melissa’s Organic Blue Agave Syrup

Ginger Ale:

Ginger Syrup (above)
2 quarts chilled sparkling water
Ice cubes

Instructions:

Prepare syrup: Bring ginger and water to a rapid boil in a 1 1/2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat



Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool; strain ginger through a fine sieve, and pour liquid into a 1-quart jar. Stir in lime juice, vanilla, and agave. Let cool. Store syrup in refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.



To prepare ginger ale: In a 2½ to 3 quart pitcher, add syrup to sparkling water. Add ice and stir. For single serving, add ¼ cup of ginger syrup to 8 ounces sparkling or carbonated water.

Nutrition Facts: per 10-ounce serving

Calories 90
Total Fat g 0
Sat Fat g 0
Cholesterol mg 0
Sodium mg 0
Total Carb g 20
Dietary Fiber g 0
Sugar g 19
Protein g 0