I love to cook.
I like the the lovely smells I create and the feeling of being in control in the kitchen.
I also like to cook healthy versions of takeaway meals I enjoy and try to get them tasting as closely as possible to their high calorie counterparts.
Chocolate flavoured super food smoothies made from fresh ingredients (preferably from the allotment) also feature highly in my personal nutrition.
But whatever I cook and whatever I blitz into a smoothie I always try to add either ginger, or turmeric powder or both.
Why ginger and turmeric feature so highly in my nutrition
Some science geeks at the Department of Stomatology, University of California, San Francisco wanted to find out what the anti-inflammatory properties (if any) there were of curcumin, a property of turmeric.
Their conclusion was that:
Curcumin has been demonstrated to be safe in six human trials and has demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity. It may exert its anti-inflammatory activity by inhibition of a number of different molecules that play a role in inflammation.
At the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center and University of Miami, Florida science geeks wanted to ‘evaluate the efficacy and safety of a standardized and highly concentrated extract of 2 ginger species, Zingiber officinale and Alpinia galanga (EV.EXT 77), in patients with osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee’
In layman’s terms they wanted to find out ginger’s effectiveness for reducing knee pain.
Their conclusion was that:
A highly purified and standardized ginger extract had a statistically significant effect on reducing symptoms of OA of the knee. This effect was moderate. There was a good safety profile, with mostly mild GI adverse events in the ginger extract group.
Knee pain, my continuing battle
I’m 43 and I’ve suffered with knee pain off and on for at least the last five years.
It’s one of the reasons I had to give up my favourite sport of rugby.
The ways I’ve managed knee pain is to:
- Reduce the amount of high impact exercise I do
- Get my gait analysed (for free).
- Spend money on a decent set of trainers
- Add ginger and turmeric to as much of my cooking as possible.
Doing all four of these things has helped enormously with my knee pain to the point that I have it under control and vary rarely ever suffer from it.
This is optimal because it means I can continue exercising (and teaching fitness classes) and keep working on myself and others to become fitter and stronger.
There’s nothing worse when you love to move but you’re sitting at home nursing an injury brought about from exercise!
It’s why I like to focus on working calves and back in my small group fitness classes.
Calf strain is the most common injury to befall group fitness participants.
As for the back?
Well this is the most neglected body part in group fitness which can lead to misalignment of the muscles – basically it’s not a good thing.
Examples of how to use ginger and turmeric in cooking
The easiest way to get ginger into my nutrition is to chop it and add it to smoothies like this lovely and refreshing green smoothie shake.
I’ll also add a dash of turmeric to this and pretty much all of my homemade smoothies, even chocolate flavoured ones.
A Fitter Stronger You favourite dinner recipe is easy cook vegetarian chilli.
The recipe itself does not call for fresh ginger or turmeric powder but there is nothing stopping you from adding it.
For an even simpler way to get turmeric into your nutrition here’s a quick drink you could make to enjoy after your evening meal:
- Mix ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and dilute with warm water to taste. You also can add honey to sweeten it.
You might also consider adding a pinch or two of turmeric powder to rice, coleslaw, or scrambled eggs or omelettes before cooking!
The best way forward is to simply experiemnt.
Try adding combinations of these seasonings to plain chicken or vegetable broth in a soup.
You can also combine turmeric and ginger with hot water, milk, and honey for a comforting tea similar to the recipe above.
The joy of cooking for me is in the experimenting, especially when you are using food to not only fuel your body for exercise but to also protect it from disease or in my case knee pain.