Mighty Ginger

Monday, February 13

Before I moved into a house share with my friends Ross and Steve in London in February 2009, the closest I had come to eating fresh ginger was a ginger nut biscuit.  It was Steve who introduced me to the powers of rooibos tea with freshly sliced ginger.  Having grown up drinking copious amounts of very milky regular tea, this was quite a revelation to me.  I wasn't entirely convinced by the smell nor pieces of the ginger floating in the brew that he handed me, but my head cold was so severe that I was ready to try anything rather than face another sache of Medi lemon in hot water.  The first few sips were slightly unusual but after my third cup of the day I felt remarkably better.  I am not sure if it was the power of the tea, or if I was already on the mend anyway-but I was sold.  Rooibos, or Red Bush, as the tea is more commonly called in the UK, is currently being researched further for its health benefits.  Rooibosteabenefits.org says that rooibos is rich in anti oxidants, has no preservatives, additives nor caffeine, and is low in tannin.  It is thought to help with indigestion, stomach ulcers and constipation and has anti spasmodic properties that help with stomach cramps and colic in children especially.  It is safe for children to drink and also safe to drink whilst pregnant. 

I treated a patient a few years ago who had prostate cancer, who said that his Doctor had advised him to drink rooibos daily in conjunction with his cancer treatment.  I have been unable to find any studies that have been done on Rooibos tea and prostate cancer, however rooibos has been found to be high in antioxidants.   We know that antioxidants are helpful in reducing free radicals which can cause cancer, and so I presume that that that is why this man was advised to drink rooibos tea. 

The power of ginger however, has been widely proven and recorded.  Superfoods by Tonia Reinhard lists multiple studies which have given further credit to the might of ginger.  A 2010 review  found that 6-gingerol found in ginger can inhibit tumours.  Another study found that 6-DGE, also found in ginger, was found to suppress cancer cell growth in breast cancer by making the cancer cells undergo 'apoptosis' or cell suicide.  Gingers effectiveness in reducing nausea in patients having chemotherapy for ovarian cancer was named as one of the 9 'major clinical clinical advances in gynaecology in 2009.'  Other studies have also found ginger to contain compounds that inhibit the growth of human lung and colon cancer cells.  Ginger has also proven to be effective in reducing cholestrol.

I was suprised when researching this article at how good both rooibos tea and ginger are for you!  By combining the two, you are getting some of the healthy benefits of both and drinking a delicious brew.  If you find it a little overwhelming at first, put a tea spoon of honey in to sweeten it up a little.

Steve's Rooibos and Fresh Ginger Tea:

Slice 2 to 3 slivers of fresh ginger and place in a cup with a rooibos tea bag and pour boilng water over.  Add honey as preferred.

Alternatively if making for a few people:
Put 2 to 3 rooibos tea bags in a pot of water with 6 or 7 slices of ginger, bring to the boil on the stove.
Add honey as preferred.

I was very fortunate that after my surgery my Mum came to stay with me whilst I was off work and my friend Lori came to visit from South Africa for a week too.  The week before I went back to work we went to the Petersham Nursery Cafe in Richmond and had their delicious sweet potato and ginger soup for lunch.  It was incredible! So good, that we went home and Loris very cleverly recreated their soup for us for dinner again that night.

Lori's Petersham Nursery Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup:

 Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup re-using bottles.

1Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic (roughly chopped)
2 Onions (Chopped)
2 Celery Branches (Chopped)
1 Carrot (Grated)
1 tsp Ground Nutmeg
1/2 Red Chilli
1.5 cm piece of fresh Ginger (Grated)

4 Sweet Potatoes Cubed, cooked by boiling.
1 cube of Vegetable and 1 cube of Chicken Stock in desired volume of water.
2Tbsp Creme Fraiche
1.5cm Ginger (Grated)
Salt and Pepper to taste.

In the olive oil, fry the garlic, onion, celery, carrot, grated ginger, chilli and ground nutmeg.
Add the Vegetable and Chicken Stock with hot water (depending on how the thick you would like the soup).  When the stock and ingredients are all boiling, add the sweet potatoes.  Allow this to simmer for 10 minutes.
Just before blending, add 2 Tbsp creme fraiche and the second 1,5cm piece of grated fresh ginger.
Blend in a blender until the desired consistency is reached.

Alternatively, substitute half the sweet potatoes for butternut.  I leave the skins of the sweet potatoes on for the added fibre that doing so provides, and it tastes as delicious!

Now I am no Jamie or Nigella, but even I managed to make this soup and it tasted as good as Lori's!  I have also been keeping any bottles that I would usually throw in the recycling bin and putting soup in these in the fridge or freezer.  It seems to last perfectly for 3 to 4 days in the fridge and I take out the freezer the night before and leave it out on the kitchen counter if I want to have it defrosted by the next day to take to work for lunch:)


  • Fresh ginger root is readily available in supermarkets.
  • Store it when fresh in a paper bag in the fridge or just in your fruit bowl.
  • Store frozen by grating or finely slicing fresh ginger and placing it in a plastic bag.  Once frozen when grated, the desired amount can be snapped off to be used.

What’s in a 1/4 cup of Ginger?
Calories: 19 (80 kJ)
Protein: 0.4g
Total Fat: 0.2g
Saturated Fat: 0.1g
Carbohydrates: 4.3 g
Fibre: 0.5g

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