Ginger is one of my favourite flavours. Spicy, aromatic and very Asian, its gnarly appearance belies the powerhouse inside. Growing up in India I heard a lot about the health benefits of ginger but it didn’t really sink in till recently.
With the unpredictable weather it feels like I’ve had a constant cold the past few months. So when my Mom heard the hoarseness my voice on the phone a few days ago, she told me to try her ginger, pepper + honey concoction. And to my surprise – it worked! Yes – I listened to my mother and immediately started to feel better….said no one ever!
What is Ginger?
For those of you who don’t know, it’s a rhizome and it looks lumpy, wrinkled and brown. I tried to make it look awesome in this picture and as you can see, I failed miserably. Ginger is essential in so many cuisines worldwide. Indian and Chinese dishes are incomplete without the distinctive aroma and taste of ginger. Thai food uses its cousin, Galangal that seems to be milder and more palatable in general. Even Japanese sushi neds the kick of the pickled pink variety. And don’t forget candied ginger!
Health Benefits of Ginger
Traditionally ginger has been used for centuries in India and China as a natural remedy for a range of problems. Recent research has proven its effectiveness in the modern world as well. Over the years I’ve tried ginger for it’s healing benefits and it does work!
A teaspoon of ginger juice along with equal quantities of mint and lime juice works wonders with nausea and indigestion. I tried it during my second pregnancy and while it didn’t get rid of my nausea completely it did help me manage my health. Chewing a small piece of ginger after a heavy meal helps speed up assimilation. I swear by that one – rather my mom does – and I have already learnt to listen to her!
Cold and Coughs
In India, ginger is often used to help manage colds and coughs. Small, chopped up pieces of ginger steeped in boiling water along with your favourite tea will work wonders for your congestion. A teaspoon of honey with a few slivers of ginger and a couple of peppercorns taken a few times will help with that tiresome cough.
Ginger as an Anti-Inflammatory to heal Aches and Pains
Natural qualities within ginger have been proven to help with arthritis pains, headaches and muscle pains that occur as a result of inflammation (those not accompanied by fever). Ginger juice along with some honey has been known to help with all types of inflammation in the body. The honey for sure helps it go down easy.
How can you use Ginger?
Ginger is good for our bodies and has been used to heal daily ailment for thousands of years. Even though my husband hates the flavour (sorry, hon!) I grind it up and use it in a host of different ways. Here are some ideas to get you going:
- My kids love the flavour of ginger in chicken. This marinade with maple syrup, ginger and orange is delicious – and even the pickiest eater in my family; my youngest agrees.
- In soup. A family favourite is this flu-fighting beet and ginger soup.
- In all types of lentils and taco meat.
- If you don’t like the flavour, disguise it with other strong flavours like curry powder, anise, orange.
- Pop a piece in your tea every morning and let it steep.
- Bake much? What about gingerbread, cakes, scones with ginger, candied or otherwise.
In addition to ginger in it’s natural form, many people believe ginger supplements work as well. I am still on the fence about that and perhaps if the root hadn’t been so easily accessible, I may have gone with the capsules. But plain old regular ginger is easy to buy and store so I haven’t gone down that path. I keep it in a cool, dry place and it stays for a couple of weeks and then I move it to the refrigerator once it starts showing it’s age – it wrinkles like the rest of us!