Prisco’s Family Market

1108 Prairie Street, Aurora, IL 60506 | 630-264-9400

Hours: Monday - Friday, 7 am to 8:30 pm | Saturday, 7 am to 8 pm | Sunday, 8 am to 7 pm

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So, Just What is a Nectarine?- Tuesday, July 25, 2017

A nectarine is a fuzz-less variety of peach. It is NOT a cross between a peach and a plum. Every once in a while, a peach tree mutates – the gene responsible for the fuzz is turned off, and out comes a smooth-skinned nectarine. Peach seeds may occasionally grow into trees that bear nectarines, and nectarine seeds may grow into trees that bear either nectarines or peaches. It is not possible to know which fruit will grow on trees grown from nectarine seeds, so nectarine branches are grafted onto peach trees to guarantee a crop of nectarines.

The word 'nectarine' means sweet as nectar, and this is very likely the origin of the name. Nectarines, like peaches, probably originated in China over 2,000 years ago and were cultivated in ancient Persia, Greece and Rome. They were grown in Great Britain in the late 16th or early 17th centuries, and were introduced to America by the Spanish.

Nutritionally, a nectarine is a real dynamo. A medium nectarine is approximately 4-5 ounces in weight and will cost you only 60 calories. In return, you get a lusciously sweet snack with 2.5 tsp worth of sugar, evened out by 1.5 grams of fiber. Nectarines are a good source of vitamin C and also have good vitamin A and potassium values, and they are also contain an abundance of antioxidants.

If you love nectarines, now is the time to buy them as their season, as with other soft fruits such as peaches, plums, apricots, etc., is limited in the US.

Four Common Food Myths Debunked- Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Myth 1 - You can eat as much healthy fat as you like

The truth: While olive oil, packed with monounsaturated fat, is better for your heart than the artery-clogging saturated fat in butter, both have 100 to 120 calories per tablespoon. In fact, all fats have roughly the same number of calories, says Samantha Heller, RD. So go easy. One way is to try an oil mister—one spritz delivers a fraction of a teaspoon.

Myth 2- Dark bread is always better than white

The truth: A dark bread might just have caramel coloring but be no better than white bread, University of Scranton psychology professor Michael Oakes, PhD, says. Look for the words “whole grain” or “100 percent whole wheat” on the package: that means the bread is made from unrefined wheat, which has more than double the fiber and is also higher in selenium, potassium, and magnesium.

Myth 3 - "Eggs are bad for your heart.”

The Truth: Eggs do contain a substantial amount of cholesterol in their yolks—about 211 milligrams (mg). But labeling eggs as “bad for your heart” is connecting the wrong dots, experts say. Studies show that most healthy people can eat an egg a day without problems,” says Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., distinguished professor of nutrition at Penn State University.

The cholesterol we eat in eggs doesn’t have a huge impact on raising our blood cholesterol; the body simply compensates by manufacturing less cholesterol itself. The chief heart disease culprits are “saturated and trans fats, which have much greater impact on raising blood cholesterol,” notes Kris-Etherton. Seen through that lens, eggs look more benign: a large egg contains 2 grams of saturated fat (10 percent of the Daily Value) and no trans fats.

As with any food, it’s not the eggs but the amount of eggs that you eat that can become unhealthy. According to the American Heart Association’s diet and lifestyle recommendations, which Kris-Etherton helped write: Limit your cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg daily. Rule of thumb: it’s safe to eat a bit less than one egg per day, say two or three per week.

Myth 4 - High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is worse for you than sugar

Not true… The truth is neither one is good for you and both should be limited or eliminated for a truly healthy diet. “The debate about HFCS and sucrose [table sugar] is taking the focus off the more important question,” says Kimber Stanhope, Ph.D., R.D., a researcher at the University of California, Davis, who has studied the sweetener extensively. “What we should be asking is ‘What are the effects of all sugars (HFCS and sucrose) in the diet?”

Our bodies weren’t designed to handle a large amount of fructose at a time, Stanhope notes, because we wouldn’t have come across it in our food supply. “If you look at what nature provided for humans to eat, we only had fructose in whole fruit, in amounts that are relatively dilute.” Problems arose when we learned how to turn foods—which contain fiber, water and other nutrients—into pure sources of sugars (e.g., refining sugarcane into table sugar). Despite its name HFCS contains only a little more fructose than sucrose does, Stanhope emphasizes. It’s the sheer amount of the sweet stuff we consume that matters or, once again, it’s the dose that is the problem. Too much honey, agave syrup or dehydrated cane juice would likely cause the same health problems.

“The American Heart Association recently recommended that women consume no more than 100 calories a day in added sugars [6 teaspoons]; men, 150 calories [9 teaspoons],” Stanhope notes. Our current intake, however, hovers around 355 calories per day. “The U.S. population isn’t anywhere close to [the AHA’s] goal.”

What you may not know about almonds.- Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Just a handful of almonds per day may help you get more of the nutrients your body needs while helping maintain a healthy weight and cholesterol levels. A handful of almonds is a tasty way to help crush cravings and keep energy levels up throughout the day. Almonds are also easy to take on the go and pair well with lots of other foods.

Here are some other good-to-know facts about almonds:

  • When asked "What is an almond?", folks naturally reply "It's a nut." This is true, but only partially so. As a member of the peach family, the almond is technically the hard-shelled fruit of the almond tree.

  • Almonds are among the lowest-calorie nut meats. A single serving of almonds (1 oz. – 23 whole almonds) provides just 160 calories. They also have more calcium than any other nut, plus nearly 9 grams of monounsaturated, heart-healthy fats, 6 grams of protein, and 3.5 grams of fiber.

  • Almonds are healthiest for you raw or dry roasted. You will want to avoid "roasted" almonds as they may have been heated in unhealthy fats.

  • There are 98 published research papers to date (with 19 more in progress) on the health effects of almonds, in particular their positive effect on heart health, diabetes and weight management.

  • Almonds eaten as a mid-morning snack can help moderate your blood sugar levels throughout the day. They help to slow absorption of sugar and carbs

Gazpacho - This summertime cold soup is not only delicious, it’s healthy! - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Unfortunately, far too few Americans have ever enjoyed this delicious summertime treat, and it’s a real shame because it is quite tasty; and once you see how healthy it is, you will want to add it to your regular summer meal plans.

Originally from the Andalusian area along the south Mediterranean coast of Spain. History tells us that it has many different influences, from Greece and Rome, as well as from the Moor's and Arab culture. The original soup was blended stale bread, olive oil and garlic, with some liquid like water or vinegar that was pounded together in a mortar. Different vegetables and almonds that were available were also added. This soup evolved into different varieties, the most popular around the world being the tomato-based variety, which is served cold.

It was common for Roman soldiers to carry dried bread, garlic and vinegar to make the basics of this early soup. Christopher Columbus probably took this soup with him on his voyages from Spain. When he brought back tomatoes, cucumbers and different peppers, that is when the soup evolved to its present state. Now all kinds of things are added, such as watermelon and cantaloupe.

Here are some of our favorite homemade recipes. Note the nutritional information and the ingredient list and you will see why it’s really worth getting acquainted with.

Tamar's Gazpacho

Calories

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Fiber

Sugar

Cholesterol

Sodium

88 cal.

0.6g

20 g

3.2 g

4.7 g

12 g

0 mg

120 mg.

 

Mexican Gazpacho

Calories

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Fiber

Sugar

Cholesterol

Sodium

86 cal.

0.5g

21 g

3.6 g

3.9 g

12 g

0 mg

100 mg.

 

Gazpacho Andaluz - Cold Tomato Soup

Calories

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Fiber

Sugar

Cholesterol

Sodium

56 cal.

1.0g

11 g

2.2 g

2.4 g

6 g

0.2 mg

54 mg.

 

The term Gazpacho has also become synonymous with any soup served cold. Here are a few of our summer favorites:

 

Blackberry Gazpacho

Calories

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Fiber

Sugar

Cholesterol

Sodium

210 cal.

3.8g

34 g

2.5 g

8.3 g

23 g

6.3 mg

9.4 mg.

 

Chilled Strawberry Soup

Calories

Fat

Carbs

Protein

Fiber

Sugar

Cholesterol

Sodium

200 cal.

0.9g

49 g

2.0 g

6.1 g

40 g

0 mg

4.2 mg.

 

 

The foods of Love- Monday, February 6, 2017

If you have a special someone in your life, you're probably already planning for or looking forward to this Tuesday. February 14th is Valentine's Day, the one day of the year dedicated exclusively to spending time with your significant other or spouse, and doing your best to make their day special. This can mean simply spending more time with them and/or buying them flowers or other gifts, all of which are great options, but there's one activity almost all couples indulge in on Valentine's Day... Sharing a special meal together!

Now, people often say the best way to a person's heart (man or woman!) is through their stomach, and cultures all over the world agree. Everyone is going to have an opinion on the best foods for inspiring love in another person, ranging from various types of seafood to fruits, herbs, and vegetables. There's a traditional or folk remedy for everything, and aphrodisiacs are in a category all their own.

Looking to play Cupid this Valentine's Day? When you head to the restaurant for a meal out, or while preparing your own meal at home, try incorporating some of the following foods... And enjoy!

[info courtesy of smoothfm.com.au, care2.com & health.usnews.com]

Oysters & Caviar

These classic aphrodisiacs are packed with zinc, a mineral that supposedly increases libido. Why not start your meal with half a dozen oysters or some caviar, and a glass of chilled champagne (a classically romantic beverage)?

Truffles

Why truffles (the fungus, not the chocolate)? Probably due to their rarity and musky aroma. Truffles have long been considered a go-to food for arouse the palate and the body.

Bananas

Loaded with B vitamins, magnesium, potassium and the bromeliad enzyme, bananas may increase the male libido. There are lots of wonderful desserts, including Bananas Foster, that incorporate bananas.

Avocado

Boosting the immune system with B vitamins and potassium, avocados have long been associated with sexuality. Baked Avocados or avocado slices on a salad are a great way to incorporate this particular food into a romantic meal.

Almonds

Thanks to their high vitamin E content, almonds help support female hormones, and have been seen as a fertility symbol for hundreds of years. Almonds can be sprinkled on top of salads or used as an ingredient in many lucious desserts.

Garlic

Garlic is considered an aphrodisiac primarily because it helps increase blood flow. As an ingredient, it's also incredibly easy to include in your meal: Garlic can be used as a seasoning in most main dishes, as well as in sides (garlic mashed potatoes, anyone?).

Chocolate

The neurotransmitters serotonin and anandamide both contribute to feelings of happiness and euphoria, and both are found in chocolate. Chocolate also happens to be the go-to Valentine's Day treat, and you would be remiss not to include it at some point in your evening!

 

Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!

 

Asparagus, the "food of kings"- Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Asparagus may not officially be royalty, but it sometimes is referred to as the “food of kings,” and "the aristocrat” of vegetables. Cultivated for more than 2,000 years, asparagus was prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans for both taste and the medicinal properties they believed it possessed. King Louis XIV of France loved asparagus so much he had special greenhouses built, so he could enjoy the vegetable year-round.

Not only does asparagus taste delicious, it offers us a rich supply of nutrients. Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. It’s also a good source of antioxidants. This is just the beginning of a long list of health benefits attributable to asparagus, but we all want to eat it, not think about it. Why not consider some of these asparagus recipes and see if you don’t feel a bit more regal?

Asparagus and Jack Cheese Frittata

Risotto with Portobello Mushrooms and Roasted Asparagus

Asparagus Soup

Marinated Asparagus Salad

Steamed Asparagus

Chicken and Fresh Asparagus Casserole

 

Want to reduce your carb intake? Try cauliflower in your favorite recipes.- Tuesday, January 24, 2017

It's an unfortunate fact that ingredient-limited diets, especially those programs that require reducing carbohydrate intake, can be highly unpleasant for beginners. In many cases you're required to sacrifice most if not all of your favorite foods, leaving you feeling both hungry and miserable. However, it's important to stay the course even if you experience some discomfort. Don't let the initial side effects of a low carbohydrate diet stop you from eating healthy. Once you are over the hump and your body begins to adapt, you will find yourself feeling much better.

While this is good news, it does not address the loss of your favorite foods, which can be distressing for many people and make it difficult to persevere in their new dietary regimen. In order to make eating low carb satisfying and manageable over the long term, physically and mentally, you need to find a way to re-incorporate some of the foods you love. And one of the best ways to do that is to substitute low carb ingredients for the high carb ones in your favorite recipes.

This week, Prisco's Family Market is featuring cauliflower – one of the best low carb food substitutes out there. This amazingly versatile vegetable can fill in for just about anything "bready" – and in the spirit of experimentation, cooks have come up with plenty of new and interesting ways to use it.

Here is a list of recipes using cauliflower as a replacement for breads, pastas, and starches, while keeping your favorite flavors intact...

Cauliflower “Everything Bagels”

The quintessential New York food. Pair them with some fat and a protein source to make a complete breakfast. They’d be delicious with an avocado and some lox or turkey slices!

Recipe courtesy of lexiscleankitchen.com

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, riced (about 3 cups)

  • 2 tbsp almond flour

  • 1 tbsp coconut flour

  • 1 tbsp organic corn meal

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

"Everything" Topping

  • 1/2 tsp poppy seeds

  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 1 tsp dried minced garlic

  • 1 tbsp dried minced onion

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. In a food processor, or using a hand grater, pulse/grate cauliflower until rice consistency

3. In a bowl combine eggs, cauliflower rice, almond flour, coconut flour, corn meal, garlic powder, and salt

4. In a separate bowl combine "everything" topping ingredients

5. Lay parchment paper on a baking sheet

6. Make 4 even sized balls and lay onto parchment paper

7. Sprinkle "everything" topping and slightly press them into the top

8. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until bread-like consistency (it might be longer depending on the size you make)

9. Remove from baking sheet and let cool directly on a cooling rack

Optional steps: Broil on high for 3-5 minutes after baking. For extra crisp, remove from baking sheet and do the broiling step with the buns directly on the oven rack.

 

Cauliflower “Rice”

For those of you who are accustomed to eating rice, this is a recipe for you.

Recipe courtesy of thepaleomom.com

Ingredients

  • 1 small head of cauliflower (4-5 cups riced)

  • 3 Tbsp cooking fat (such as coconut oil)

  • 2 tsp lemon zest (approximately 1 lemon)

  • 4 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/8 tsp salt , to taste

Instructions

1. Trim cauliflower and place florets in a food processor (you may have to do this in batches). Pulse until chopped to rice grain size. Set aside.

2. Heat cooking fat in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower to the oil and cook, stirring frequently until cauliflower is cooked al dente (about 6-8 minutes).

3. Stir in lemon zest, parsley and salt. Cook 1 minute. Enjoy!

 

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Cauliflower crust is thin and crispy, perfect for anyone who likes pizza with a nice crunch on the bottom. And since you’re making it yourself, it’s easy and fun to get really creative with the seasonings. (Note: You can also use that crust for calzones, pizza pockets, or just about anything else you’d otherwise use pizza dough for.)

Recipe courtesy of foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, stalk removed

  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella

  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Break the cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor until fine. Steam in a steamer basket and drain well. (I like to put it on a towel to get all the moisture out.) Let cool.

3. In a bowl, combine the cauliflower with the mozzarella, Parmesan, oregano, salt, garlic powder and eggs. Transfer to the center of the baking sheet and spread into a circle, resembling a pizza crust. Bake for 20 minutes.

4. Add desired toppings and bake an additional 10 minutes.

 

Cauliflower “Breadsticks”

A big basket of breadsticks can really bring the table together, and they’re delicious dipped in some homemade marinara sauce! Fortunately, cauliflower comes through again with a way to make them lower carb.

Recipe courtesy of fastpaleo.com

Ingredients

  • 1 head of cauliflower

  • 1 tablespoon of oregano

  • 1/2 tablespoon of basil

  • 1 tablespoon onion powder

  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

  • 2 eggs

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. You can either put the whole head of cauliflower in a microwave safe dish and put in the microwave for 10 min. Then remove and put in a food processor until smooth OR you can put the cauliflower in the food processor first until you get a rice consistency and then put in a microwave safe dish and put in the microwave for 10 min.

2. Let the cauliflower cool slightly then place in the refrigerator until cooled completely.

3. Once cooled, mix the rest of the ingredients in the cauliflower.

4. Grease a cookie sheet and place cauliflower on it. Use your hands and pat down cauliflower until it is about 1/2 in thick. Place in an oven set for 425 degrees for about 25 min or until slightly brown.

5. Remove from oven and turn to broil at 500. Cut your cauliflower in the desired sticks you want and flip over. Place back in the oven until both sides are brown and desired crispness. Enjoy!

 

Cauliflower "Macaroni & Cheese"

Nobody can really pretend that cauliflower is shaped like macaroni, but if you’re looking to dig into a big pile of rich, cheesy goodness, cauliflower mac is just the thing.

Recipe courtesy of grassfedgirl.com

Ingredients

  • 5 cups cauliflower florets

  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 cup coconut milk, canned

  • 1/2 cup homemade broth

  • 2 tbsp coconut flour, sifted

  • 1 soy free organic egg, beaten

  • 2 cups grass-fed cheddar cheese/raw cheese

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 350.

2. Salt the cauliflower then steam it until al dente.

3. Then place the florets in a greased baking dish.

4. In a skillet heat up the coconut milk with a pinch of salt and pepper over medium heat.

5. Add the broth and keep stirring.

6. Add the coconut flour to the mixture and let the sauce bubble.

7. Remove the sauce from heat then whisk in the egg.

8. The sauce should thicken and then pour it over the cauliflower.

9. Add the cheese evenly then bake for 35-40 minutes.

10. Turn the oven to broil for 3-5 minutes to get a nice color on top.

 

Turn your New Year’s resolutions into real solutions for healthy eating!- Sunday, January 1, 2017

Every year as we head home from the last holiday party, usually a New Year’s celebration, we make a promise to ourselves to cut back on junk food and embrace healthier eating and physical exercise. Unfortunately, very few of us ever make it through the football playoff season and by the time the Superbowl arrives in early February, all our best intentions have fallen to the wayside.

It’s not easy to suddenly acquire will power and get serious about healthy eating and exercise, but if only we could it would do us all a world of good. There are tools, tips and aids that can help, and that is what we would like to begin to share with you today.

There are some painless ways that you can help yourself and other members of your family begin and maintain a healthier lifestyle. One great place to start is with the MyPlate Daily checklist, which isprovided by the US Department of Agriculture. Visit their website and take a few seconds to provide your sex, age, height and weight, and it will generate a couple eating checklists for you: One that will allow you to maintain your present weight if that is where you want to be, and another to help you lose weight over time. Here is the link.

In addition to the MyPlate Daily checklist, this site provides a wealth of information and great tips to help us all develop healthier lifestyles, especially as they relate to what we eat.

 

 

Everything You Eat and Drink Matters — Focus on Variety, Amount, and Nutrition

Choose a variety of foods and beverages from each food group to build healthy eating styles. Include choices from all the MyPlate food groups to meet your calorie and nutrient needs when planning or preparing meals and snacks.

FOOD GROUPS

Fruits - Focus on whole fruits. Fresh is best but also consider frozen, dried, and canned options. Always choose whole fruits more often than 100% fruit juice to help control sugar intake.

Vegetables - Vary your veggies. Vegetables are divided into five subgroups and include dark-green vegetables, red and orange vegetables, legumes (beans and peas), starchy vegetables, and other vegetables.

Grains - Make half your grains whole grains. Grains include whole grains and refined, enriched grains.

Protein Foods - Choose a variety of lean protein foods. Protein comes from both animal (seafood, meat, poultry, and eggs) and plant sources, (nuts, beans and peas (yes, these last two are veggies as well), seeds, and soy products).

Dairy - Move to low-fat or fat-free milk and yogurt. Dairy includes milk, yogurt, cheese, and calcium-fortified soy beverages (soy milk).

Oils - Oils are part of healthy eating styles because they provide nutrients for the body, like fatty acids and vitamin E. They also enhance the flavor of your food. Some oils are eaten as a natural part of the food such as in nuts, olives, avocados, and seafood. Other oils are refined and added to a food during processing or preparation, such as soybean, canola, and safflower oils. Choose the right amount of oil to stay within your daily calorie needs.

Choose Foods and Beverages with Less Saturated Fat, Sodium, and Added Sugars

The saturated fat, sodium, and added sugars found in foods and beverages are important for you to think about as you build your healthy eating style. Although sometimes found naturally in foods and beverages, sugars, sodium, and ingredients high in saturated fat are very often added during processing or preparing foods and beverages. Try to limit or avoid highly processed foods.

Start with Small Changes

Create an eating style that can improve your health now and in the future by making small changes over time. Consider changes that reflect your personal preferences, culture and traditions. Think of each change as a “win” as you build positive habits and find solutions that reflect your healthy eating style.

 

Have you heard the buzz about coconut water?- Tuesday, May 24, 2016

While coconut water has been around for a long time, it’s only recently that folks have been singing its praises. People are becoming increasingly health conscious, and along with the popularity of organic and sustainable foods, there has been a trend toward “natural” substitutes for soft and sports drinks as well. Endorsed by celebrities and athletes alike, the demand for coconut water in particular is skyrocketing. Why? Because it is low in calories, naturally fat- and cholesterol free, contains more potassium than four bananas, and is super hydrating… And these are just a few of the many benefits ascribed to coconut water!

What Is (in) Coconut Water?

Naturally refreshing, coconut water has a sweet, nutty taste. It contains easily digested carbohydrate in the form of sugar and electrolytes. Not to be confused with high-fat coconut milk or oil, coconut water is a clear liquid in the fruit’s center that is tapped from young, green coconuts.

It has fewer calories, less sodium, and more potassium than a sports drink. Ounce per ounce, most unflavored coconut water contains 5.45 calories, 1.3 grams sugar, 61 milligrams (mg) of potassium, and 5.45 mg of sodium compared to Gatorade, which has 6.25 calories, 1.75 grams of sugar, 3.75 mg of potassium, and 13.75 mg of sodium.

Coconut water in recipes

While coconut water makes an excellent beverage all on its own, it can also be used in place of plain water in many types of recipes. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

  • Coconut water popsicles - Just add fresh fruit slices like strawberry, mango, kiwi fruit, bananas, cherries, melon, blueberries and peaches to coconut water and freeze them as cubes or popsicles.
  • Coconut water smoothies - Instead of plain water, use coconut water in your fruit-based smoothies and shakes.
  • Use coconut water in soups - This works especially well in light, broth-based soups, and some curries.
  • Use coconut water for poaching chicken or fish

Coconut water can also be used in many alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. Planning on using ice for coladas and other cocktails? Freeze coconut water and use that. Unlike regular ice, it’ll lend a nice, subtle flavor to any tropical beverage as it melts, rather than simply diluting it.

 

Ginger & Turmeric – Two amazing natural supplements- Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A great many people are supplementing their diets with multivitamins these days, and many more are also including natural supplements in their daily regimens. Everything from fish oil and green tea extract, to probiotics and citrus oils have become commonplace. In this blog, we thought we would share some facts about two natural supplements: Turmeric and ginger root. Both are readily available, and once you hear about the benefits each offers you might consider adding them to your diet.

Ginger is a rhizome, a thick underground stem that sprouts roots and shoots. After a ginger root is broken off from the main plant it is washed and dried in the sun. Once dried, it can be used for cooking or medicinal purposes. Turmeric is a relative of ginger. The turmeric root contains curcumin, an anti-inflammatory molecule. While ginger is often used as a fresh root in things like stir-fries and other Asian dishes, turmeric is most familiar as a ground dried spice very commonly used in Indian cooking. It is also used extensively in American dishes and condiments (in fact, it's what gives yellow mustard its color).

Ancient Chinese and Indian healers have made ginger and turmeric a part of their toolkit for thousands of years.  Both roots are a natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.  Long-term, low-level inflammation plays a major role in almost every chronic Western disease. This includes heart disease, cancer, metabolic syndrome, Alzheimer’s and various degenerative conditions. Therefore, anything that can help fight chronic inflammation is of potential importance in preventing and even treating these diseases. 

Preparing Ginger For Cooking

To use ginger, the light brown skin is usually removed. This is easily done with a spoon. Simply scrape the edge of the spoon against the skin of the ginger, and it comes off quite nicely. You can also use a vegetable peeler or even cut away the skin with a knife, but a spoon is the preferred method as it can reach into the root's curves and contours better.

Ginger is a very fibrous root so once the skin is removed you will want to further prepare the ginger for use. Cut the ginger into medallions, then matchsticks, then fine dice. By doing this, you are cutting the long fibers in the root against the grain, making the ginger much more palatable. Alternatively, you can grate fresh ginger on a rasp grater to get a very fine ginger paste.

When cooking with fresh ginger, there are a number of ways to incorporate it into a dish. For stir frys, I often fry ginger medallions or matchsticks in the hot oil before adding the vegetables. You can then remove the ginger or leave it in if you like. You can also grate the ginger into a paste before frying it in oil. This method is particularly nice if you like lots of spicy ginger flavor. By grating it, you increase its surface area, and its flavor will penetrate throughout the dish much better. It's also texturally nice because the ginger will be fully incorporated rather than remaining in large chunks.  You can also add fresh ginger to hot tea or blended juices.