I’ve had a number of encounters with ginger root used for ailments in my life time. My mom used to give me and my siblings flat ginger ale for upset stomachs. In Australia, when my mom, sister and I went to dive the Great Barrier Reef, we chose the windiest day in history. On a small boat on a large ocean, wind is not positive. Ginger tablets saved the day. And of course in University, when life proved to be stressful, rye and gingers always did the trick.

So what exactly are ginger’s super powers? First of all, this plant has been used in remedies for over 2,500 years. It originated in Southeast Asia, but today it is used all over the world. Ginger contains the naturally-occurring active ingredients shogaol, gingerol and zingiberene. These weird sounding ingredients do a lot of good things. They neutralize acid, hence the help with upset stomachs and they block the vomit reflex, helping with nausea. It reduces prostaglandins, which can cause inflammation of blood vessels to the brain; this is a positive for those who suffer from migraines. Ginger is also a natural anti-histamine and decongestant because it works to dilate constricted bronchial tubes.

Ginger is also a derogatory name for red-heads, the name of the the shipwrecked movie star on Gilligan’s Island, and the name of the famous dancing film star, Ginger Rogers. Ginger is pretty popular.

Here are my two favourite uses for ginger:

This recipe is from my favourite Toronto restaurant Fresh. Even the most skeptical eaters are turned onto “healthy” dining because of this recipe.

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large diced onion
6 tbsp minced fresh ginger
6 cloves of minced garlic
2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/3 cups carrot juice (I use Boathouse — it has to be pure carrot)
3/4 cup rice vinegar
2 cups natural smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup lemon juice (or juice of one lemon)
2/3 cups tamari (or soy sauce)
2 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup of water (or add less for desired consistency)

Heat olive oil in large pot or wok. Add onion, ginger, and garlic and cook until onion is soft (about 5 minutes).

Add curry and cayenne powders, cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add remaining ingredients, heat on medium heat until peanut butter is melted.

Remove and let cool. Once cool, puree in blender.

Pour over bowls of rice or quinoa. Top with sliced cucumber, tomatoes and bean sprouts.

This is not really a recipe, per say, but it is my favourite and fastest use of ginger. It’s also an awesome drink in the summer time if you add ice cubes.

2-3 inches of ginger root, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes.
1 tsp of natural or local honey

Boil 2 cups of water. Drop in ginger cubes. Let boil for a few more minutes. Remove from heat. Honey should not be added to boiling water, so let cool for a few minutes than add honey.

You can also add lemon for added digestion and decongestion.

For all the years of enduring blonde jokes, here’s one for the gingers out though. Love to all my ginger friends; it’s just a joke!

A ginger and a blonde met in a bar after work for a drink, and were watching the 6 O’clock news. A man was shown threatening to jump from the Brooklyn Bridge.
The ginger bet the blonde $50 that he wouldn’t jump, and the blonde replied, “I’ll take that bet!” Anyway, sure enough, he jumped, so the ginger gave the blonde the $50.
The blonde said “I can’t take this, you’re my friend”.
The ginger said “No. A bet’s a bet”.
So the blonde said “Listen, I have to admit, I saw this on the 5 O’clock news, so I can’t take your money”.
“Well, so did I”, said the ginger, “but I never thought he’d jump again!”