Here’s what you need to know about this spicy root. It’s actually a flowering plant, and is close cousins to turmeric, cardamom and galangal. People have been turning to this plant’s rhizome (i.e., the ginger root we know and love) for thousands of years—and not just for cooking. According to our friends at Healthline, ginger has many proven health benefits. It can help settle an upset stomach (so keep some handy on your next long-distance road trip), lower cholesterol levels and even enhance brain function. It’s also known as an an anti-inflammatory ingredient (which is why it frequently pops up in smoothies and Ayurvedic recipes). For all these reasons and more, it’s worth adding ginger into your diet. And you can do that in both powdered form or as a fresh root.
Powdered ginger is easy to find in grocery stores and is commonly used in baking recipes where you want this aromatic ingredient to melt into the dish. Fresh ginger root can be chopped and added straight into dishes (seriously—you don’t need to peel it) or grated with a microplane. As for substitutions, you can usually swap 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger for every tablespoon of fresh ginger called for in a recipe (the powdered stuff is a little more pungent than the fresh root), says Martha Stewart. But this swap typically doesn’t work the other way around (i.e., you can’t use fresh ginger as a substitute for ginger powder in dessert recipes since the texture will be totally off). Whichever type of ginger your recipe requires, get your tastebuds ready because you’re in for a treat.