benefits of ginger

It is reassuring to find spices in our spice closet that are healing and that promote a strong immune system.

Ginger is an important one, and in addition to the powdered spice rack, can be found easily as a fresh tuber (root) on our grocery store shelves. It works well in combination with garlic and onion, so can be conveniently added to many casseroles and stir fries.

Many years ago when I visited an artist friend, Zarina, in New York City, who was raised in India, I watched her prepare her food for the week. One of the first things that she did was to chop a huge quantity of ginger and garlic together and put them into a quart canning bottle in the refrigerator. This was her basic spice to be used in most of her cooking during the week. I have reflected on her immune-boosting practice many times over the years, and though I don’t prepare mine ahead, I often chop ginger and garlic together. I usually add onion, too.

Ginger is considered an aid to digestion. It may help to calm the stomach and to decrease digestive problems such as flatulence and diarrhea. This is another good reason to add it to your cooking.

Fresh ginger is also good as a tea. Slice several thin slices of the root and boil them in water for a few minutes. Then add other spices such as cinnamon or a touch of mace and honey. This is a great tonic if you lose energy in late afternoon. It is also antiviral and will boost your immune system. In hot weather refrigerate your tea and add a mint leaf served over ice. Delicious!

Ginger can be found easily in powdered form on the grocery spice shelves. This can be added to pumpkin pie (a favorite) or in ginger snap cookies. It can be added to stir fries or casseroles in this form if you do not like to chop up your spices. 

Ginger is also available as a very intense essential oil. I put it into our Lime-Ginger Soap. This seems to be a good way to both wash hands and take advantage of ginger’s anti-viral properties. 

Several other herbs are related to ginger, such as turmeric and cardamom. They are also wonderful additions to our Western cuisine. They are also rhizomes and are often more difficult to find than ginger in grocery stores, though fresh rhizomes are most often available in health food stores. I noticed that the Grassroots Market in Fleming Island, Florida carries the fresh turmeric rhizomes. Turmeric and Cardamom are good spices to add to your spice shelf, too. They are also both easily available as powdered spices.

So in this difficult time, with the virus pandemic still among us, boost your immune system, soothe your digestive system and add some fresh tastes to your cuisine. Try ginger!