Dig up the Power of Super Roots
In recent years, we’ve heard plenty of buzz surrounding both ginger and turmeric as ingredients and natural remedies for a variety of ailments. Many see these spices as ‘superfoods’ with abundant flavour potential that can be incorporated into cooking, baking and even beyond. Let’s dig up a greater understanding of these two fantastic super roots so we can harness the full potential of both ginger and turmeric!
The spicy ginger root is native to Southeast Asia and is part of the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes turmeric, cardamom and 1,300 other species of roots across Africa, Asia and the Americas. Ginger has a rich history that dates back an impressive 5,000 years! Ancient Chinese and Indian descendants used ginger mostly for medicinal uses, but as time passed, the root made its way into cooking. Currently, many countries around the world cultivate and use ginger, which can be grown year-round. Mature ginger rhizomes are nearly dry and fibrous. The young ones, on the other hand are juicy, have a mild taste and are fleshy. In North America, we normally come across the mature ginger rhizomes in supermarkets.
Earthy Spice & Knobby Look
Perhaps the most well-known characteristics of ginger root are both its unique flavour profile and knobby appearance. The taste of ginger can be described as a spicy, zingy and earthy. Ginger brings the kick and taste to many meals and is commonly used as a flavouring agent – it can be a great substitute instead of adding excess salt or sugar. It is difficult to miss ginger in a meal as it has a taste that becomes predominant compared to other more subtle flavours.
Rooting for Health
You may have come across health food professionals, chefs and influencers identifying ginger as a superfood – but what makes it so super? Ginger contains significant amounts of various nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin and magnesium. Ginger is commonly known to aid with colds, sore throats and congestion due to its anti-
inflammatory properties which can help fight bacterial infections. This super root can also provide relief against a painful stomach due to it stimulating the production of bile in the body. If that isn’t impressive enough, ginger root can be used to aid with dizziness, motion sickness and vertigo. Some studies even link ginger to regulating blood sugar! The list goes on and on with ginger – the main take away here is that this root does a bounty of good within our bodies
Spice up your Life
Ginger is primarily used as a spice in the kitchen. In countries like India, it is used in almost everything on some menus! This root is easy to peel and dice up for recipes. It is also simple to shred and lasts a long time before decomposing – ginger root claims a shelf life of almost a month when refrigerated. An added bonus when using ginger is its fragrant aroma which will fill your kitchen with a cleansing smell! See ideas below on how to use ginger in recipes.
Ginger Root Ideas
- A hot soup brings out the spicy ginger flavour note even further. Add ginger into a variety of soup recipes to give them a delicious kick. Try cooking up a carrot ginger soup, chicken soup with caramelized ginger or even a turmeric-ginger chicken soup
- Add ginger to noodle/pasta dishes, stir-frys and curries. It pairs wonderfully with vegetables, meats and grains. Try this simple but satisfying ginger veggie stir-fry!
- Savoury recipes are just the tip of the iceberg with ginger. This zingy root can be integrated into many baking recipes including ginger muffins, gingerbread cookies, pumpkin gingerbread pudding, lemon ginger cheesecake and ginger bread cake. YUM!
- Aid a sore throat or runny nose with combining hot water, sliced ginger (no need to peel), honey and cayenne pepper. This simple concoction will help clear your senses and fight inflammation.
- If you’re looking to consume more ginger but may not want to incorporate it into your cooking or baking. There are plenty of ginger products on the market. Ginger biscuits, ginger snaps and ginger chews are very popular.
Turmeric is a product of Curcuma Longa, a perennial plant that belongs to the ginger family – Zingiberaceae. This golden spice has been popular since ancient times, with a history dating as far as the 5th century AD in Indonesia. In these times, turmeric was used as a culinary spice and had religious significance. Nowadays this boldly orange root, is commonly used as both a dye and flavouring agent around the world. It is cultivated most in India (the country produces approx. 94% of the world’s supply). Other countries which grow turmeric include Fiji, China, Brazil and Peru. Distribution in India and South Asian countries still remains strong. However, popularity in North America has increased for this unique super root.
Bold Flavour and Bolder Colour
Turmeric packs a pungent, slightly sweet, earthy taste. It has a rich orange-yellow colour which is extremely potent and can immediately stain anything it comes into contact with. The look is similar to a ginger root as it has knobby, papery skin. It should be noted that orange or yellow turmeric is most commonly known in North America, however turmeric has another lesser known variety, white turmeric. White turmeric has light brown skin and white flesh, the taste is similar to that of ginger, but with a slightly more bitter flavour profile.
Super Root Status
Turmeric is considered a superfood due to its long list of nutritional benefits – it contains more than 300 naturally occurring components! Some of the top contenders: vitamin C, calcium, fiber, iron, potassium and even zinc. This golden super root is known to be anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. Turmeric can be used to heal wounds, combat abdominal discomfort and is rich in antioxidants. It can help increase appetite and aid in combatting memory loss. Some turmeric lovers increase their consumption during cold and flu season as it can help boost immunity.
Something to note – for your body to properly adsorb turmeric, always combine it with black pepper.
Turn up the Turmeric in your Kitchen
If you’re interested in experimenting with this golden-hued spice in your kitchen – we have some recommendations to get you inspired. Turmeric is a key ingredient in many Asian dishes, however there are many other areas of cooking and beyond where you can use this super-spice.
- Use turmeric in Asian dishes such as curries and yellow rice. Turmeric is the ingredient that gives many Oriental dishes their signature colour.
- Mix it up with turmeric in a home-made salad dressing! Try this Lemon Ginger Turmeric Dressing which goes wonderfully on any classic salad or even on your favourite protein.
- During cold season, create a turmeric elixir with hot water, ground turmeric, a squeeze of citrus, grated ginger and honey. You sore throat and/or runny nose will thank you!
- If you’re into juicing, this colourful spice is fantastic to add into fresh juicing recipes. It pairs deliciously alongside citrus fruits, ginger, lemon and green apple. Try this carrot, apple, ginger and turmeric juice concoction.
- Sprinkle turmeric with a bit of olive oil on to your veggies before you roast them. Cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, red onion, potatoes, yams and squash are all great choices.
- Another interesting topping option for turmeric is on popcorn! Mix together ground turmeric, nutritional yeast, coconut oil and a bit of salt to create a big punch of flavour with plenty of nutrients.
- Finally, try Golden Turmeric Milk, an Instagram favourite, this blend usually consists of ground yellow turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg and warm milk. This drink can be a great substitute for tea or coffee.