Carrots and Ginger, Not just a Bunch of Roots

We are just past the half-way mark in December, which means we are well into the holiday celebrations.  It’s definitely the most festive time of year with all the countless holiday parties – office, clients, friends, and the big family dinner.  It’s hard to stay on track with eating healthy when you’re constantly surrounded by food, delicious treats, and beverages that are high in calories.  For many, this is the time of year where they give themselves permission to cheat on their good eating habits, without feeling guilty.  After all, what’s Christmas without chocolate, home-made pie, spiked eggnog, stuffing and turkey with gravy?  Even Santa expects cookies when he comes to visit.  But if you’re hosting a holiday dinner this year, and would like to help your guests maintain their health, then sneak in a dish that’s good for their soul. Try this Carrot and Ginger Soup.

What makes this soup so good for you?  Three things:

1. Ginger.  Did you know that ginger is not only used as a spice when cooking, but that it’s also a powerful medicinal herb? Ginger has amazing abilities to promote health and prevent diseases.   Here are just a few examples of the many benefits of ginger:

  • Provides effective relief to stomach aches, indigestion and nausea.  Studies show that ginger’s effectiveness in relieving these gastrointestinal distresses out competes many antacids and prescription drugs.  It is even proven to be effective in reducing nausea and vomiting caused by pregnancy, while being safe to the baby.
  • Contains gingerols, which are active phytonutrients that provide anti-inflammatory effects, reducing pain levels to those suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.  Research has also shown that gingerols may inhibit the growth of colorectoral cancer cells, and are effective in killing ovarian cancer cells.
  • Very high source of potassium (71% daily value based on a 6g serving) and magnesium (65% daily value).  The body needs potassium to ensure that all cells, tissues and organs function properly.  It also helps in counter-balancing some of the harmful effects that sodium can have on your blood pressure.  Magnesium is another essential mineral that is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body, such as maintaining normal muscle and nerve function, keeping the heart rhythm steady, and keeping bones strong.

2. Carrots.  Eat your carrots, their good for your eyes.  No kidding.  Just one cup of carrots contains 408% daily value of Vitamin A, which is the vitamin that plays a critical role in vision health. It is also an essential component of rhodopsin, a protein that absorbs light in the retinal receptors.  Other health benefits of carrots include:

  • Rich in antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, hydroxycinnamic acids, and anthocyanindins.
  • Protection against cardiovascular disease(CVD).  A recent study done in the Netherlands has provided results indicating that carrots lead the pack when it comes to reducing the risk of developing CVD, thanks to its antioxidant properties.

3. Home-made chicken broth.  Making your own broth with the left over roast chicken from last night’s dinner will not only increase the nutritional value, it will also reduce your sodium intake by at least 16%.  A diet high in salt can lead to high blood pressure, which can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, and kidney damage.  The broth can be made well in advance, stored in the freezer, and ready for use when it’s time to make the soup.

Kick-off your holiday feast with a delicious appetizer that’s good for the heart – literally! Your guests will thank you for it. Be sure to let me know how it turns out for you, by leaving me a comment below. I would love to hear your stories, or try one of your favourite soup recipes.

Carrot and Ginger Soup 2012-12-12 16.33.13
Makes 6-8 servings

Ingredients:
– 1 tbsp vegetable oil
– 1 onion, chopped
– 4 cloves garlic, sliced
– 6 carrots, peeled and sliced
– 1 large potato, peeled and sliced
– 1 medium turnip, peeled and chopped
– 1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
– 6 1/4 inch thick slices of fresh ginger
– 6 cups of home-made chicken broth
– 1 tsp of salt

Directions:
In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook for another minute.  Add carrots, potato, turnip, apple, ginger and chicken broth. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 50-60 minutes.  Add salt, and remove from heat.  Puree with hand blender or in food processor until smooth.

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