Ginger - the spice of life

For many of us in Europe ginger and other warming spices feature more in our cuisine around this time. (Think German stolen, Polish gingerbread, English mince pies and warm mulled wine. Heaven!) However, for people in the Pacific rim, Africa  and the Asian sub continent  Ginger has been a feature of daily life for centuries and is both delicacy, medicine, spice and preservative. This miraculous product of nature - which is rated as one of the healthiest foods in the world - is now readily available worldwide. I love it, use it all the time and it's my mission to help you fall in love with it too. So, what is ginger? How does it work?And why should we be including more of this in our diet?

 To get a better understanding of this life enhancing spice let's start with some basics. Ginger  root is a rhizome of the Zingiber Officinale plant and is an aromatic spice which adds zest and flavour to both sweet and savoury dishes.  It is part of the family of spices which includes Turmeric and Cardammon - other spices which, like ginger, have known medicinal qualities.

 Long used in Ayurvedic medicine the key active ingredients  are Gingerol and Zingerone - which gives the root it's characteristic smell and flavour. It also contains other nutrients essential for good cell function and health. The phyto-nutrient Gingerol is largely thought to be responsible for it's anti-oxidant and  anti-inflammatory effects. Also, medical studies done in the last 10 years have demonstrated anti colo-rectal and ovarian cancer effects of ginger compounds.

Ginger is also great to use in the home as a remedy for treating common symptoms. It is especially good at this time of year for treating coughs and colds. Try a cube of fresh ginger in hot water with lemon for easing the symptoms of a cold and sore throat. Because of it's calming effects on the stomach it is good for nausea and can safely be taken in pregnancy. It has also been shown to be effective against E.Coli and  for treating diarrhoea (especially in children). For most people Ginger is safe to take. Only those who are taking Warfarin need  to be cautious and refrain from including this in their diet. If you're feeling nauseated and you have a juicer here's a recipe for a really refreshing juice that calms the stomach -

Ingredients -

I large cube of peeled ginger
3 granny smiths apples
1 peeled cucumber (optional)
Carbonated water to top up

Put all but the water in your juicer. Pour juice into a long glass filled with ice and top up with carbonated water as desired. Sip through a straw and relax. Both calming and refreshing at the same time!

Ginger is a good cell activator and helps to stimulate metabolism and promotes fat burning. It is, therefore,  great for anyone wanting to actively  lose weight.

Ginger is now widely available worldwide at all times of year and nothing beats the organic variety. I use it extensively in cooking and juicing and I urge you to make this spice a part of your life. If you're not already a fan start today. Here's to the healthiest winter that you've ever had!

For further information about ginger and other healthy foods visit - Ginger and other healthy foods

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