Meet Your Ingredients: Ginger

Meet Your Ingredients: Ginger

Learn all about the health benefits of ginger as well as tips on buying, storing, and cooking with ginger in my latest Meet Your Ingredients guide!

The Basics: What is Ginger?

Besides being one of my favorite flavors, ginger is actually a flowering plant that’s closely related to turmeric and cardamom. 

But what most of us think of as ginger is the underground part of the stem — a.k.a ginger root. And while you’re likely used to seeing the inside of ginger root being white or slightly yellow, certain varieties can also be red.  

Similar to turmeric, ginger has been used for thousands of years not just as a way to add flavor to foods and beverages, but also to help boost our health. 

What are the health benefits of ginger?

Ginger’s many health benefits are largely thought to be due to the fact that it contains over 400 plant compounds. 

In particular, ginger contains a compound called gingerol — a powerful antioxidant that’s also responsible for the smell and flavor of ginger.  

So what are these health benefits? While there are a ton of claims surrounding ginger’s role in health, here are the benefits with the most research behind them: 

Some studies have even found a link between ginger and reductions in body weight and fat

Are there side effects of ginger?

 In general, ginger is very safe for most individuals to consume. 

To reduce the risk of side effects, it’s generally recommended that adults limit intake of ginger to no more than 4 grams per day, and pregnant women to keep intake to 1 gram or less per day. 

Side effects with large doses can include heartburn, stomach pain, diarrhea, cramping, or bloating.

Additionally, ginger contains compounds called salicylates, which can have a blood thinning effect. Therefore, if you’re on a blood thinning medication, it’s important to talk with your healthcare provider before using large amounts of ginger

How to buy ginger

When it comes to buying ginger for cooking, you have a few options:

  • Whole ginger root
  • Minced ginger
  • Ginger paste
  • Ground ginger

Personally, I prefer the whole ginger root as it’s cheaper and there’s more gingerol in fresh ginger compared to dried. 

When buying fresh ginger root, here’s what to look for: 

  • Thin skin (you should be able to nick the skin with your nail).
  • No soft spots.
  • A strong, spicy, ginger smell.

However, if the idea of peeling and mincing ginger sounds like far too much work, then buying jars or tubes of pre-minced ginger or ginger paste can be a good way to go. 

Of course in a pinch, it’s also good to have dried ginger in the spice cabinet. Just note that ground ginger has a much more concentrated flavor than fresh. 

In general 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger = ¼ teaspoon of ground. 

How to store fresh and ground ginger

Fresh ginger should be stored either in the fridge or freezer. 

A good rule of thumb is if you use ginger on a weekly basis, keep it in the fridge as it’ll make it easier to slice off the amount you need. Just be sure that it’s in an airtight bag.

However, if you don’t go through ginger that quickly, I recommend peeling your ginger root and then storing it in a freezer-safe bag in your freezer.

Then, when you’re ready to use it, all you have to do is grate it using a microplane – no thawing needed!

Fresh ginger should last for 4-6 weeks in the fridge and 2-3 months in the freezer.

If you’re buying dried ginger, you’ll want to keep it in a sealed container in your spice drawer or cabinet. It should last for up to 2 years, but the flavor will likely start to decline after 1 year. 

How to use ginger in cooking and baking

Ginger can be added to pretty much anything: smoothies, oatmeal, stir-frys, soups, salad dressings, grain bowls, marinades, cocktails, lemonade, cookies, cakes, and scones.

To use fresh ginger, you just simply peel the skin, then dice or mince it per your recipe’s directions. You can also grate ginger with a microplane — this works especially well with frozen ginger. 

One tip: when cooking with ginger, add it at the beginning for a more mild flavor or wait and add it towards the end for a stronger gingery punch. 

Here are some healthy ginger recipe ideas to get you started: 

Meet Your Ingredients: Ginger

Breakfast recipes with ginger:

Lunch and dinner recipes with ginger:

Healthy Dessert and Snack recipes with ginger:

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About Kelli McGrane Headshot

I’m Kelli MS, RD, and my mission is to prove that eating healthier doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. Follow along to learn more about food and cooking, with an emphasis on breakfast and sweet treats!

About Kelli McGrane Headshot

Welcome to The Healthy Toast!

Here you’ll find healthy breakfast recipes designed by a registered dietitian with your health goals in mind.

As a dietitian I understand that a healthy breakfast is essential for giving you the fuel you need to power through your day. Which is why on TheHealthyToast, you’ll find nutrition guides plus the best healthy breakfast recipes for every diet and lifestyle.

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