Food of the month: Ginger

Monday, 4 November 2013

Food of the month: ginger

What it is: Ginger (ginger root) comes from the plant Zingiber officinale and is consumed as a spice or used as medicine. The edible parts of ginger include the rhizomes (purgent underground stems) and the above-ground stems when they are young and tender.

Where it’s from: The name ‘Ginger’ comes from the Middle English word gingivere, although it dates back to over 3 000 years. Native to South Asia, it has since spread to East Africa, and is also very popular in the Caribbean Islands.

Where it’s produced: Some of the biggest suppliers of ginger include India, China, Jamaica, Africa, Indonesia and Nepal. India grew over a quarter of a million tonnes of rhizomes in 2003, which is almost three quarters more than the ginger grown 30 years ago. 

What it tastes and looks like: Ginger has bulbous little joints from which small bumps grow. It’s light brown with an ivory, pale green flesh. It has a peppery flavour with a hint of sweet lemon, with an aroma that’s pungent and sharp. 

How to eat/use it: Ginger produces a hot, fragrant spice and, among other things, can be steeped in boiling water to make ginger tea. You can store ginger, use it in a range of different forms, or use at as medicine to soothe bellyaches or reduce inflammation. Available in six forms (fresh, dried, pickled, preserved, crystallised or ground), fresh ginger can be grated or chopped for a dish, while ground (powdered) ginger can be used in sweet, dessert dishes or curry mixes.

A good source of: Great news is that ginger only contains 80 calories per 100g and no cholesterol. It also consists of the essential vitamins and nutrients required for optimum health, such as pyridoxine (vitamin B6), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), calcium, magnesium and potassium. 

Benefits: The benefits of ginger are endless! Ancient healers used ginger to cure a wide variety of ailments and today, scientists have already discovered that ginger can kill certain cancerous cells and prevent the growth of others with its anti-inflammatory properties. As a result of these properties, ginger also has the ability to combat a wide variety of diseases and conditions. Some of which include healing ulcers, relieving nausea and preventing neuronal plaque – a symptom of Alzheimer’s disease.

Kiwi fruit, ginger and banana smoothie (courtesy of

Fruit smoothies make a really nutritious breakfast for kids and grown-ups – blitz and guzzle away!” Jamie Oliver


  • 3 kiwi fruit
  • 4 tablespoons (organic) porridge oats
  • 1 banana
  • 8 ice cubes
  • 200ml (organic) milk
  • 250g (organic) fat-free natural yoghurt
  • ½ cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons honey, to taste

Top and tail the kiwi fruit and stand them on their ends. Slice the skin off in vertical strips with a sharp knife. Whiz the kiwi fruit with the remaining ingredients, apart from the honey, in a blender for 30 seconds and pour into 4 tall glasses. Sweeten with honey, if you like.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Lisa Raleigh’s healthy smoothie recipes
Healthy party snacks
Food of the month: turmeric
Food of the month: red bell pepper
Know your oils

Written by

Danica Potgieter is a sassy sub-editor, witty writer and lover of high heels, lipgloss & her flat iron! (Hates bios, so this is all there is!)

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  1. Bath Lover

    Ginger is so good for you. Always have some handy, especially if you are feeling a little under the weather and it is a good digestion aid if you feel you have over-indulged! ( Christmas is coming – so keep some handy!! Comes as a chew sweet too which helps, although can still be HOT)

    5 years ago •

  1. Kelly Abrahams

    Mmmm Ginger in a smoothie! Sounds divine! Can’t wait to try this recipe out!

    5 years ago •

  1. CherylGD

    Thank you, that’s a really great recipe with well balanced flavours and so good for you, yum!

    5 years ago •

  1. Jenna-Lee Pretorius

    I love ginger, it is a power food and really works. You can add it to just about anything, I love using it as a base to dishes instead of using onions..

    5 years ago •

  1. Lynne123

    I love ginger! Its a must in every home. A little lemon, honey and ginger in hot water does wonders when you are not feeling 100%

    5 years ago •

  1. Lebo

    I always have ginger in my house,i use it for cooking in curries,i also mix it with warm water and honey when i have stomach cramps or when i feel nauseous. I will definately try it in smoothies

    5 years ago •

  1. foreverGLAM

    Lol @Mpoyif, I also love ginger beer soft drink. I have never made ginger tea before and will be trying it tonight when I get home. I only use it when im making curry.

    5 years ago •

  1. ABeauty

    We mainly use ginger when we are sick and for home made ginger beer yum!

    5 years ago •

  1. Azraa

    I love ginger. I have ginger tea every night, and I put ginger powder in my tea every morning(chai tea anyone?)

    5 years ago •

  1. Sammy

    Glad they shortened the word, I am not a ginger fan but I will consume it. I have it in my food but I can try it in a smoothie. no promises

    5 years ago •

  1. NaturalDiva

    Ginger tea is the best during winter. It makes me feel warm and cosy. And when cooking my mother likes to add a teaspoon of crushed ginger to a curry, it changes the depth of the taste.

    5 years ago •

  1. Sue1N

    Ginger is awesome! I use a pinch in my tea with honey. I have fewer digestive problems since I have started to use that. Also great to use in tea if you are nauseous. It definitely also helps for stomach cramps. I will never be without ginger in the house again. Fresh is of course also great!

    5 years ago •

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