Ginger, associated with gingerbread cookies and holiday goodies, has many health benefits. Ginger has been used to treat motion sickness and to control nausea for many years. Now research has revealed other health benefits. Studies show specific plant chemicals in ginger root also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. The studies suggest that ginger can prevent chemotherapy induced nausea and vomiting, and reduce exercise induced joint pain. Ginger is even being studied for colon cancer prevention in people at high risk for colorectal cancer.
Ginger is sold fresh, powdered, candied and even pickled. Fresh ginger contains higher levels of antioxidants, so it’s best to buy fresh. Fresh ginger has a robust, spicy, often hot taste. Look for a root that is smooth (not wrinkly) and firm. Mature ginger, which is most common, needs to be peeled, while younger ginger, found in Asian markets does not. The biggest challenge with using fresh ginger is getting it peeled. It helps to cut a piece off of the ginger root the size that you’ll need and work with a small piece at a time. Peel the ginger with a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler. Store any unpeeled ginger in the refrigerator for about three weeks, or freeze up to six months. Once peeled, recipes may call for ginger thinly sliced, minced or grated. Try adding fresh ginger to marinades for meat, poultry, or fish, or add to stir fries, soups, and salads. The later ginger is added in the cooking process, the more pronounced its flavor and aroma.
Powdered ginger is easier to use and is typically used in baking, but can also be added to stews and meat dishes. Candied ginger can be chopped and added to quick breads like banana bread, or sprinkled in fruit salads.
To reap the benefits of ginger go beyond ginger ale and gingersnaps and try this quick stir fry dish.
Gingered Beef Stir Fry
½ pound boneless beef sirloin, cut ½ inch thick
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup sliced mushrooms
½ cup snow peas
½ cup celery, diagonally sliced
¼ cup green onions, sliced
¼ cup red pepper strips
1 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp cornstarch
1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
2 cups hot cooked brown rice
Cut beef diagonally across the grain into 1/8-inch slices. (This is easiest when meat is partially frozen.) Heat oil in wok or medium skillet over medium high heat. Add beef, salt, and vegetables and stir fry until vegetables are tender crisp. Blend ginger, cornstarch, soy sauce, and 1 Tbsp water in small bowl; add to beef and cook, stirring until sauce is thickened. Serve over rice.
Serves 2. Calories: 470 Fat: 11g Carbohydrates:57g Sodium: 536 mg