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What is turmeric and why is it so popular?
Turmeric comes from a flowering plant called Curcuma longa that is native to Southeast Asia. A cousin of ginger, turmeric is also a root, or more accurately, a rhizome. The turmeric spice gets lots of attention from both the medical community and culinary enthusiasts. Why? Because it’s active ingredient, curcumin, has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxident properties. Studies show turmeric also helps in the management of metabolic syndrome, arthritis, anxiety, hyperlipidemia and various stomach issues like crohn’s disease, stomach ulcers and irritable bowel syndrome. No wonder so many people obsess over turmeric.
Where can you find turmeric?
I find ground turmeric in the spice section at grocery stores. I noticed recently produce sections of both specialty and grocery stores carry fresh turmeric. It isn’t cheap, so some people opt to grow their own at home. It’s easy to grow if you have a sunny spot to put a large pot or planter. How to Grow Tumeric Indoors.
When added to recipes, the turmeric spice provides the intense color of yellow mustard and curry powder. Long used to flavor Indian and Caribbean dishes, it has a slightly bitter taste with a bit of a peppery flavor.
Ways to cook with turmeric
- Soup: Any soup recipe tastes good when you add 1-2 teaspoons of tumeric. It adds a deep golden color to the recipe.
- Curry or stew: Turmeric brings warm flavors to any curry or stew. Add 1 teaspoon of the ground spice when you saute the vegetables.
- Rice: Add a pop of color to rice dishes. Add ½ teaspoon turmeric to the water when you cook the rice
- Smoothies: 1 teaspoon gives a subtle turmeric flavor. Add up to 2 teaspoons to intensify the flavor. Include coconut oil in your smoothie to boost the turmeric absorption.
- Tea: Add ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric to your mug before you add the hot water when you brew tea.
- Pancakes: Add ½ teaspoon of ground turmeric to your dry pancake mix. The color will turn a beautiful golden yellow.
- Hummus: Combine ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric with 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds to use as a hummus topper.
- Lentils (or other legumes): Cook your legumes with onions, olive oil and 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric. Serve them plain, or combine them with cooked quinoa for a more substantial meal. Make patties out of the legume/quinoa recipe for vegetarian burgers.
- Mac and cheese: Stir ½ teaspoon of turmeric into to your cheese sauce.
If you want to use the fresh root, the first step is to peel it, then grate with a microplane grater. Wrap any extra you don’t immediately need tightly in plastic wrap – it will keep in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days.
- Marinades: I teaspoon freshly grated turmeric root adds a kick in marinades for chicken, fish and beef.
- Salad Dressing: Stir a small amount of grated turmeric into salad dressings.
- Stir Fry: Add 1-2 teaspoons of fresh turmeric to your stir-fry while you sauté the vegetables.
- Egg Dishes: Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of freshly grated turmeric into egg dishes such as a scrambled egg mixture,frittata or quiche recipe. In addition to the health benefits, the turmeric enhances the color of the eggs.
- Smoothies or Fresh Juice: Add a 1-inch piece of turmeric root to smoothies.
- Yogurt: Top plain Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon grated fresh turmeric, ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper, a pinch of sea salt and a teaspoon of olive oil for a fabulously healthy yogurt bowl.
- Pumpkin Recipes: Stir in 1 teaspoon of the freshly shredded spice to the batter and bake as usual to intensify the flavor and color of pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins or a pumpkin loaf.
This humble but powerful spice fights many diseases we face today. While Turmeric cannot cure our diseases, it does provide an myriad of health benefits.
Note: This article is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before you add the turmeric spice to your diet, or take turmeric or curcumin as a supplement, to ensure they do not interfere with pre-existing conditions or current medications.
top image source: Taylor Kisor from Unsplash