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Eating Well With Whole Foods: Ginger

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

Gingerbread cookies. Ginger spiced tea. Ginger Snaps. While available throughout the year what better time than the holiday season to enjoy the pungent, sweet, and spicy flavor of ginger. Known botanically as Zingiber officinale, ginger’s name is thought to be derived from its Sanskrit name "Singabera" which means "horn shaped," a physical characteristic of the ginger root. Depending on the variety and length of harvest, ginger boasts yellow, white, or red flesh, and is covered by a thick or thin brown skin. Native to southeastern Asia, ginger has long been prized for its aromatic, culinary, and medicinal properties. The ancient Romans imported ginger from China almost two thousand years ago. Spanish explorers introduced ginger to the West Indies, Mexico and South America, and in the 16th century, these areas began exporting the precious herb back to Europe. Today, the top commercial producers of ginger include Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia.

Ginger has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, and protects against colorectal and ovarian cancers. It aids in digestion, helps alleviate gastrointestinal distress, and reduces motion-sickness related symptoms, including dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating. Ginger’s powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, gingerols (the active phyto-nutrients) have been associated with a reduction of pain and swelling in people suffering with arthritis, as well as increased mobility. It’s a safe and effective remedy for pregnant woman as it helps reduce vomiting. Ginger is immune boosting by helping promote sweating, a terrific detox to help combat colds and flus. Ginger is a good source of potassium, magnesium, copper, manganese, vitamin B6, and other active ingredients and a little goes a long way.

Shop for fresh ginger root year round at your favorite local produce market. Choose fresh ginger over the dried version for its superior flavor and its higher level of gingerols. Make sure it is firm, smooth and free of mold. Ginger is available in two forms, either young or mature. Mature ginger, the more common type, has a tough skin that requires peeling while young ginger, usually only available in Asian markets, does not need to be peeled. Fresh ginger can be stored unpeeled in the refrigerator for up to three weeks and will keep up to six months in the freezer. Ginger can spice up a main meal, like a veggie stir-fry, or rice pilaf, and add zing to a nutritious and delicious seasonal treat. Tantalize your taste buds by adding some to your favorite holiday cookies, breads, or baked apples.

Gingered Spiced Carrots

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely diced (1.5 cups)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh gingerroot

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cumin

3 tablespoons light brown sugar or

2 tablespoons maple syrup

2 pounds carrots, sliced (about 6 cups)

2 cups organic vegetable stock

Dash of sea salt

2 tablespoons fresh dill

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add sliced onion and cook until it turns gold. Add all remaining ingredients except for the salt and dill. Cook over low heat until the carrots are tender, about 15 minutes. Be sure not to overcook to prevent carrots from becoming too soft. Remove from the heat and cool for 5-10 minutes. Add dash of salt and stir in the dill. Enjoy!

Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzannpileggi.com, or you can email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com,  or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.

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