Cooking with Turmeric

Long used in Indian, Chinese, and Caribbean cooking, turmeric is starting to show up in menus across the country and even in some beauty products. It gives a distinct taste to curries, that yellow gold color to mustard, and is quickly becoming a trendy root to know. The reason for its rise to fame comes not from its flavor or color, but from its medicinal properties. As a strong antioxidant to clear away free radicals and an powerful anti-inflammatory agent, turmeric in your diet is one way to ensure great overall health.

Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric has been praised for its powerful ingredient, curcumin. Curcumin possesses the non-toxic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that health professionals have grown to love. Turmeric added to your diet will benefit your overall health by lowering your risk of inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and digestive problems. It has also been helpful for stimulating appetite, reducing the symptoms of hepatitis, liver problems and jaundice, helping resolve headaches, depression, and addressing the symptoms of the everyday cold.

Curcumin benefits your brain mental health as well as the physical. Populations that consume large amounts of turmeric regularly have been reported to have fewer occurrences of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. It can fight free radicals and reduce inflammation, present in these diseases. At the same time, curcumin has been shown to breakdown the plaques that accumulate and cause Alzheimer’s. Turmeric can also be used to address issues outside the body as a topical treatment. Skin conditions, infected wounds, bruising, ringworm and oral inflammation are all treated with an application of turmeric.

Of special note, turmeric has been identified as a potential treatment option for cancer patients. While studies and research continue, this is a huge breakthrough against an illness for which we do not yet have a cure. Cancer is easily one of the most feared diseases because it can strike anybody at any time. The antioxidant powers of curcumin have been found to benefit patients suffering with certain types of cancer. The protection against free radicals in the colon helps to not only prevent colon cancer but to destroy mutated cancer cells upon contact and prevent these mutated cancer cells from spreading through the body. Additionally, curcumin interrupts the process of tumor formation in certain tissues.

Ways to Eat and Drink Turmeric

Turmeric can typically be added to the diet in one of two forms; as a powder or as a fresh root. Many people only think of it as a spice to be added to a meal. So how do you eat fresh turmeric? Luckily, there are a number of ways to incorporate this medicinal herb into your daily diet.

Before you use the fresh root, you first need to peel it, just like its related root, ginger. You can then cut off whole pieces with a microplane grater and can store the turmeric pieces in your refrigerator for up to ten days. The best ways to add fresh turmeric to your daily routine include:

  • Adding it to smoothies: You simply take a one inch piece of the root and blend together with any fruit or juices of your choosing.
  • Making a marinade: Grated or sliced turmeric can be added to any of your favorite marinade recipes to add a little kick to that chicken or fish.
  • Making a dressing: Grated turmeric is an ideal addition to any salad dressing.
  • Baking a pie: Stir in one teaspoon of shredded turmeric to pumpkin pie batter to add rich flavor and color.
  • Cooking stir fry: Saute vegetables in one or two teaspoons of freshly grated turmeric to add extra flavor to any stir fry.
  • Making breakfast: Add one or two teaspoons of grated turmeric to your eggs in the morning, be it scrambled or when you make a frittata or quiche. You get a bold taste and an even bolder color.
  • Creating savory yogurt: Top your Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of grated turmeric, ¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper, teaspoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt for a unique and tasty savory yogurt bowl.

If you don’t have access to fresh turmeric, as there are plenty of recipes and treats you can enjoy with ground turmeric. The good news is that you get the same health benefits.

  • Add one or two teaspoons to any soup for additional flavor and a colorful hue.
  • Before making a curry or stew, sauté the vegetables in ground turmeric first for the ultimate comfort food.
  • Throw in ½ teaspoon of turmeric in the boiling water when cooking rice, to add a subtle taste and a nice rich color.
  • Blend it into your smoothies. Depending on the kick of flavor you want, you can add between one and two teaspoons and be sure to use coconut oil, too. This helps boost the turmeric absorption in your body.
  • Make your macaroni and cheese better for you and the kids. Both homemade and boxed versions get a little healthier when you add ground turmeric to the mix.
  • Don’t have regular pancakes; make them golden. Add ½ a teaspoon of turmeric into the batter for a bright color to start your morning and to get your body ready for the day.
  • Spice up the hummus dip for your vegetable tray by adding ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric and 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds to the top of your dip.
  • You don’t always have to eat turmeric, you can drink it too. Whether you let it seep in boiling water alone or add it to a tea you are already making, it provides the same health benefits and keeps you warm.

As a culinary spice turmeric can be added to soups, dips, dressings and smoothies. It adds wonderful flavor to vegetables, rice, meat, relishes and desserts. While you enjoy the flavor, your body enjoys the healing properties that curcumin delivers.

It is never too early to start taking your health seriously; you don’t have to wait until you have Crohn’s disease, Alzheimer’s or cancer to enjoy the medicinal properties of turmeric. There are, however, differences in cooking with the spice and taking it in supplement form. Greater bio-availability is just one benefit of taking a curcumin capsule. Either way, start including turmeric in your daily diet and ward off those diseases; the spicier you are, the stronger you are, too.