Ginger…Not just the Mary Ann Alternative
I used to be big Gilligan’s Island fan. And around the time it was popular there were a number of those silly questions comparing Ginger–the Movie Star–and Mary Ann–the girl next door:
1) Would you rather be Ginger or Mary Ann?
2) Would you rather do date or marry Ginger or Mary Ann?
There were also two versions of the show’s theme song, both of which gave Mary Ann a raw deal. One version lumped Mary Ann in with the professor, and the other didn’t even mention her at all. Oh the horror for a young girl to be either lumped in with the brain or not mentioned at all. Let’s face it, most of us wanted to either be with Ginger or to hide our inner Mary Ann to be Ginger– because Tina Louise (and I can’t even remember the name of the actress who played Mary Ann, further proving my point) played one hot, sought-after movie starlette. Even though Mary Ann usually had better ideas on how to get off the island. And the older I get, the more, it seems, I need a little Ginger.
Not that Ginger. But a concoction I create to soothe my stomach after an evening of consuming red wine with a big meal.
While wine has a multitude of benefits–social lubricant–lowering cholesterol–cure for the common cold even weight loss; it also has its drawbacks for many a wine lover as a trigger for that evil punisher: heartburn, GERD or acid reflux. According to the good people over at WebMD, wine, and some of its best pairings are among the Top 10 Heart Burn Foods.
Wine, beer, or your favorite cocktail can all trigger heartburn, says Chutkan, especially when they are imbibed with a large meal. “If you have a meal of steak, creamed spinach, and lobster bisque and then alcohol on top of that,” she says, “you may be in for it.”
Taub-Dix agrees. “A glass of red wine may not be a big deal on its own,” she points out. “But if you also have tomato sauce on your pasta and a glass of orange juice in the morning on an empty stomach, it could be a problem.” Like peppermint, alcohol opens the sphincter, allowing the acid free range.
And adding one of my favorite of all foods–cheese–with wine, only seems to escalate the problem.
Heartburn and Cheese, Nuts, Avocados and a Juicy Rib Eye. What do these foods have in common? They are all high in fat, according to Chutkan. “These foods may not get as much press as acidic foods when it comes to heartburn,” she says, “but they can be major triggers.” Here’s why: Fat slows down the emptying of the stomach, so there is more opportunity for a big distended stomach — which increases pressure on the esophageal sphincter — to make heartburn more likely.
Chutkan says that doesn’t mean you can never have those foods again. “Don’t have a cheese plate at the end of a meal,” she suggests. “Instead, eat it early in the day when you are not already full.” Remember, a serving of cheese is roughly the size of two dice.
Two dice? I’m not playing craps — so I need a little more than two dice on my cheese plate. And since I’ve always been one to favor asking for forgiveness than permission, I’ve decided to use a little Ginger to cure my heartburn, rather than simply avoiding the food and wine I love.
Plan Ahead for a Night of Rich Food and Drink!
Ginger is a natural aid for the gastrointestinal tract, a deterrent against inflammation and nausea, and has been used for years to treat heartburn. And if I plan ahead, I can actually mitigate the effects of wine and a heavy meal with a little ginger tea. I’ve shared my recipe with some of my fellow wine drinkers and made them believers…
Ginger Tea Recipe
- Fresh ginger root
- 4 cups boiling water
- 1 large fresh lemon
- Small Wire Mesh Strainer
- Glass measuring cup
- ice (optional)
For Hot Tea. Break off about a 3 inch piece of the ginger root and peel (I use a potato peeler). Using a pairing knife cut the root into thin slices. Add ginger slices to 2 cups of boiling water and steep for about 20 minutes. Slice lemon in half. Slice one or two pieces from center of one of the halves and set aside. Squeeze juice from remaining lemon into steeping ginger and water. Using wire mesh strainer, pour liquid into a cup (hot tea). Add teaspoon of honey and stir. Garnish with lemon slice. Enjoy.
For Iced Tea. Break off about a 3 inch piece of the ginger root and peel . Using a pairing knife cut the root into thin slices. Add ginger slices to 4 cups of boiling water and steep for about 20 minutes. Slice lemon in half. Slice one or two pieces from center of one of the halves and set aside. Squeeze juice from remaining lemon into steeping ginger and water. Pour entire ginger lemon mixture into a pitcher–including ginger slices. Using wire mesh strainer pour tea over ice into a tall glass. Add honey to taste and stir. Garnish with lemon slice. Hmmmm, how refreshing!
I prefer to make the 4 cup batch for the ices tea method. I add ice to the pitcher and put it in the refrigerator. By leaving the ginger slices in the pitcher, it can continue to strengthen the tea as it cools. I even put a couple slices of ginger into my glass — but I love ginger!
There are a number of variations on this recipe but this one works best for me. Some of them don’t require fresh ginger but I have found that works best.
You don’t have to give up your great wine and food with Mary Ann to avoid heartburn. Just make sure you have a little Ginger waiting for you when you get home.