Turmeric is an herb used in Indian and Asian cooking and is also known for many medicinal properties and is used regularly in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine.
Turmeric (Curcuma Longa)is a perennial plant and related to the ginger family. The rhizome (underground stem or root) is the part of the plant primarily used for cooking and medicinal purposes. The root is boiled and dried and then ground into a vibrant yellow powder.
Turmeric contains a phytochemical nutrient named curcumin, which is an antioxidant known for anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and anti-cancer properties. With over 100 clinical studies curcumin has been shown to be active against several chronic diseases including various types of cancers, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular, pulmonary, neurological and autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease.
Before taking turmeric supplement be aware that it acts as a blood thinner, can lower blood sugar in people with diabetes and is contra-indicated with gallbladder issues and during pregnancy. Since herbs are not regulated by the FDA, many products may be adulterated so it’s important to know the company before making a purchase. And always talk to your physician before taking a supplement.
Using turmeric as a culinary herb is safe and good for overall health. Add a bit of pepper when using turmeric to increase absorption. You can find the root in the produce section and peel and grate to use in teas, soups, curries, etc. Or you can buy the powder in the spice isle in the grocery store. It is a bright yellow orange color so be aware that it will change the color of food. It’s also traditionally used as a dye so it is quite a potent color. To me it doesn’t have a strong taste unless you use more than a teaspoon and then I notice an earthy and little bitter quality but not unpleasant. Here are some easy ways to add turmeric to your dishes:
- Sprinkle it on any roasted veggies
- Add ¼ to ½ teaspoon to smoothies
- Add ½ -1 teaspoon to soups, stews and stir fries
- Sprinkle it on when cooking greens such as kale or spinach
- Add ¼ teaspoon to plain rice, quinoa, millet or other grain for a pop of color
- Add ½ teaspoon to your favorite salad dressing (bottled or homemade)
- Add a pinch to guacamole or hummus
- Great with any egg dish
Turmeric tea, also know as “liquid gold,” is popular throughout Asia and helps boost the immune system.
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon turmeric and simmer for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve. Add a bit of honey, lemon or orange slices and a dash of pepper.
Once you have the basic recipe you can add other spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cloves, or allspice to suit your tastes. Another tradition is to use milk of your choice (cow, coconut, rice, almond, etc.) Instead of water for “Golden Milk” which is a wonderful immune boosting drink for kids and adults alike.