Food of the Month with Catherine Saxelby

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Ginger it up!

Catherine Saxelby

Whether you enjoy it fresh or dried, ginger adds a wonderful fragrance and pungency to your cooking. A key medicinal in traditional Chinese medicine (it has been used for over 2,500 years and it has a reputation for relieving stomach upsets as well as being a digestive aid), many of ginger’s health benefits are now being backed by research. Today, ginger’s medical uses include the treatment of nausea and morning sickness during pregnancy, motion sickness and some cancer treatments. Ginger can help reduce the pain and inflammation of osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis. Some sufferers have been able to reduce their arthritis medications with a daily dose of ginger extract.


Ginger is technically a rhizome – it’s the underground stem of the Zingiber officinale plant. It’s rich in hundreds of phytochemicals, including gingerols, beta-carotene, capsacin, caffeic acid, curcumin and salicylates. It’s these chemicals that scientists believe are responsible for ginger’s therapeutic actions.

With very few kilojoules and virtually no fat, a tablespoon of grated fresh ginger (around 13 g) adds its pungent flavour and aroma without adding to your waistline. It’s 90% water. In contrast, a couple of squares (10 g) of glace or crystalline ginger is in the ‘treat’ category and will set you back around 130 kilojoules (31 calories) thanks to its 8 g sugar.

Ginger up your diet: Peel a chunk of the ginger root and then grate, finely chop, slice or even crush it in a garlic crusher. Store fresh ginger unpeeled in the vegetable crisper of the fridge for one to two weeks. Ground ginger should be stored in an airtight container away from light and heat.

  • Team fresh ginger with garlic, fish, pork, chicken, beef, shellfish, beans, pumpkin and Asian greens.
  • Sip home-made ginger tea: place 2 or 3 slices of fresh ginger in a cup and pour over boiling water. Leave for a couple of minutes and then drink. Add lemon juice and honey to taste.
  • Pep up a Japanese meal with pickled ginger on the side.
  • Indulge in a few squares of crystalline ginger as an after-dinner treat, occasionally

For more information on super foods and healthy eating, visit Catherine’s website: