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with Chef Domenica Catelli

Domenica Catelli's blog has now been retired. We appreciate all the wisdom and support she has brought to the WebMD community throughout the years. For more information on nutrition and eating well, visit our Real Life Nutrition blog.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Getting Comfortable with Ginger

fresh ginger

iStockphoto

What a delicious, versatile and healthy addition to your diet ginger can be. It can spice up everything from drinks, to salad dressings, to soups, to chicken and fish and even desserts. But for many of us, working with fresh ginger can be a bit daunting.

The nubby ginger root found in the produce section of your grocery store should be firm and free of mold and the brown flesh shouldn’t be wrinkled. You can store ginger in your refrigerator for about a month.

The nutritional properties of ginger are great. It is linked to fighting cancer and being helpful in the painful symptoms of arthritis (it is a strong anti-inflammatory). It is also a good source of magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6.

To use it in cooking, peel the outer flesh with a paring knife, vegetable peeler or a wooden chopstick. If you are using a recipe that calls for fresh ginger I recommend adding 30 – 50% more than the recipe calls for — I find that most recipes underutilized this delicious root. Once peeled, you can grate it straight into a vegetable dish before it is done cooking, or into a salad dressing.

You can also cut ginger into tiny pieces and add to marinades for chicken and fish. Ginger blends well with Asian ingredients such as cilantro, soy, miso, tamari, and sesame.

You can make a quick ginger and sesame chicken marinade by adding a two-inch piece of ginger that you grate into a ½ cup of soy sauce, 1 cup of orange juice and 1 tablespoon of dry garlic. Put all of this in a large zip lock bag and add 2-4 chicken breasts. Let marinate for an hour to overnight. Remove chicken — but do not discard the marinade. Sprinkle chicken with sesame seeds and then cook in a grill pan heated to high or in a 450 degree oven for 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of your meat.

While chicken is cooking bring marinade to a boil in a small saucepan, reduce heat and cook until the sauce is reduced in half. You can use this to drizzle over your chicken when it is done.

Another great use of fresh ginger is in a “tea” after dinner. Steep a one-inch piece of peeled and mashed ginger in a cup of hot water for 5 minutes, add a bit of honey and a pinch of cinnamon for a digestive and warming drink.

You can also spice up your breakfast by grating fresh ginger (about ½ tablespoon) into your pancake batter. The kick it will add is fantastic against the sweetness of maple syrup.

When the weather heats up, add ginger to sparkling water with fresh mint, lime and a bit of agave nectar to make a refreshing ginger lime aid.

The uses are endless! Try giving ginger a place in one of your meals this week and see what new ideas are born.

Until next time, stay fresh and delicious!

~Chef Domenica

Posted by: Chef Domenica Catelli at 9:19 am

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