Gingerbread For The Holidays

Gingerbread Loaf

By Crystal Stevens

This time of year reminds us of the warming tastes and sweet aromas of cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. The anticipation of the first snow and the excitement that fills our house each year around the holidays is such a pleasant feeling. While the little gingerbread men and gingerbread houses are equally fun and nostalgic to make and sweet to taste, we crave a more decadent treat loved by most adults…fresh gingerbread. Nothing satisfies my husband and I more than moist delicious gingerbread made from scratch. The etymology behind gingerbread is fascinating. Gingerbread originally was a loose definition used to describe preserved ginger. The earliest record of gingerbread dates back to 2400 BC and is said to originate in Greece. There are recipes for gingerbread that have originated from all around the world and each culture has its own lore about gingerbreads origin. One story mentions an Armenian monk bringing gingerbread to Europe in 992 AD. However, ginger root itself originates from China and has been cultivated for centuries for its medicinal properties. Ginger root is actually the rhizome of Zingiber officinale, a subtropical plant that produces white and pink buds. The blossoms are yellow. Ginger root is a miracle worker and is said to contain anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, and anti-biotic properties and has been used to treat a number of ailments including upset stomach, nausea, menstrual cramps and so on. Ginger is known for being a friend to the digestive system. With holiday meals on the horizon, ginger may be a friend we all could use. The notorious components for giving gingerbread its sweet spicy flavor and its dark appearance are ginger and molasses. Please the adults in your family this holiday season with a more sophisticated and hearty winter dessert. Day old gingerbread is delicious served warm with a dollop of ice cream or made into a bread pudding. Mini loaves of gingerbread make excellent holiday gifts. Urban Buds Farm grows fresh ginger right here in St. Louis.

Healthy Homemade Gingerbread

1 cup gluten-free flour mix or organic whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup of coconut sugar
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger
2 tsp powdered ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp allspice
2/3 cup almond milk
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup apple sauce
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
3 tbsp ground flax meal

Directions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease an 8”x 8” pan with a thin layer of coconut oil. In a large mixing bowl, combine milk, molasses, maple syrup, apple sauce, apple cider vinegar, melted coconut oil, fresh ginger and flax meal and whisk ingredients together until thoroughly mixed. Let mixture sit for about 10 minutes. Stir together remaining ingredients in a separate large mixing bowl. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until combined, careful not to over mix. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for about 20-25 minutes. Use a toothpick to be sure the cake is thoroughly cooked. Let cool. Glaze with honey or frost with a maple cream cheese frosting. Simply mix 1 8oz package of cream cheese with 1/2 cup of maple syrup with an electric mixer for one minute.

Crystal Stevens is a regular contributor to The Healthy Planet magazine and along with her husband Eric, run the La Vista CSA Farm in Godfrey, Illinois. www.lavsitacsa.org.