Monday, August 10, 2009

Ginger: Boundless Culinary and Medicinal Applications

Ginger is a root that is used in many culinary as well as medicinal applications.

Picture of a piece of ginger
Ginger

Versatile ginger has played a significant role in Chinese, Japanese and Indian medicine since the 1500s. It has been prescribed for a variety of ailments including stomach aches, colds, nausea, diarrhea, arthritis and respiratory disorders.

Ginger is especially well known for its effectiveness in alleviating gastrointestinal distress. Extracts of ginger are found in a multitude of commercial digestive, laxative and antacid remedies. Ginger relaxes the intestinal tract and promotes elimination of intestinal gas. It has also been shown to be effective in alleviating nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy, chemotherapy, surgery, or motion sickness. Ginger may also be helpful in reducing symptoms associated with arthritis, joint and muscle pain because of its anti-inflammatory constituents called "gingerols." Nutritionally, ginger contains moderate amounts of potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6.

Ginger's warming nature makes it good candidate for wintertime consumption, but it can be consumed during any season. Working with ginger in the kitchen is fairly simple. Fresh ginger root can be found in your local grocery store. Before use, remove the skin with the edge of a spoon or a paring knife. Mince or grate and add to a salad dressing, vegetable sauté, fish or poultry marinade. Steep in boiling water and drink as a tea with honey and lemon or chill for a ginger cooler.

Enjoy this spicy, sweet salad dressing. Serve with your favorite fresh salad greens.

Ginger Tahini Dressing

2-3 tablespoons raw sesame tahini
1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons mirin or cooking sake
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup
2-3 teaspoons fresh ginger root, minced
1/2-1 clove of garlic, crushed
Crushed black pepper and sea salt to taste
In a mixing bowl, whisk together ingredients until mixture achieves a thickness.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Serves: 4

- Genevieve Sherrow, candidate, Master's of Science in Nutrition and Elizabeth Kirk, PhD, Core Faculty, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University

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