Getting to the Root of Turmeric
Although it can be cultivated in other tropical areas, India is where most of the world’s turmeric grows. The root of the turmeric plant, also known by its Latin name of Curcuma Longa, has been used by the people of India as a preventative medicine, a powerful healer and a culinary spice for over 5,000 years. Turmeric is the spice which gives that golden depth to so many favourite Indian dishes.
How Can Turmeric Help with Your Health?
Turmeric contains a substance known as curcumin and a great deal of scientific research has proven that this extract has many pharmacological benefits. The two most powerful functions of curcumin are its exceptional antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
There are clinically proven ways in which including turmeric in your diet can protect and help with medical conditions:
- Curcumin is anti-inflammatory (bearing in mind that many diseases begin with an area of inflammation within the body.
- Antioxidant (curcumin has been found to boost the immune system, helping to fight off rogue cells known as free-radicals) and helping the body to resist falling prey to many diseases.
- Curcumin has been found to support the immune system in fighting cancer. See Curcumin and Cancer Cells: How Many Ways Can Curry Kill Tumour Cells Selectively?
- Helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
- Decreases risk of heart disease.
- Acts as an anti-depressant.
- Slows the ageing process
How Much Turmeric Do You Need to Get These Health Benefits?
If you are using turmeric in food or drink you need between ½ to 1½ teaspoons per day of the dried root powder. Aim to use a product which is certified organic.
If you choose to get your curcumin as a dietary supplement, you need about 250mg per day. This can be increased if you are suffering from a medical condition rather than taking it as a preventative measure. In this case, you can take 400-600 mg up to three times a day.
Ensure you find a supplement which also contains black pepper (piperine) as this helps your body absorb curcumin. This also applies when using turmeric in recipes or drinks. Simply add ground black pepper.
Some Ideas for Including Turmeric in Your Daily Eating Plan
The secret to using turmeric in your cooking is to use it sparingly so as not to overwhelm the dish, but to include just a touch in many different recipes. As well as the traditional use in curry, here are some general ideas:
- Add a couple of teaspoons to homemade soup (add it at the stage of sautéing the onion and vegetables, prior to adding stock because frying gives a fresher, brighter taste and aroma.
- Sprinkle over roast potatoes – it gives a wonderful colour
- Use it in boiled rice to create your own pilau
- Add a teaspoon to smoothies
- Just a pinch in scrambled eggs gives a great colour boost
- Sprinkle over roasted florets of cauliflower
- Add just a pinch to herbal and fruit teas
- Mix with a little olive oil and lemon juice for a marinade or just with oil to make a glaze for meat and fish
- Add a dash to coleslaw or bean salad
- Use in Bombay-style potatoes and dahl (lentils)
- Super Cool Turmeric Drinks
Many juice bars are now including turmeric in their healthy smoothies and juice drinks, but making them at home is easy and very satisfying. Here are a few ideas:
Banana and Berry Smoothie with Turmeric
- 1 banana
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp coconut milk
- 400 ml coconut water
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp coconut cream
Just pop all smoothie ingredients into a blender and whizz for 45 seconds. Choose your own mixture of berries to ring the changes.
A blend of:
- warm water
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- honey to taste
Comforting Turmeric Tea
A healthy start to the day, or a soothing drink at any time, making turmeric tea takes less than a few minutes and needs very few ingredients. It’s a great way to ensure you’re giving yourself a turmeric boost each day.
- 1 250ml mug of water or almond milk
- 1 level tsp turmeric powder
- 1 level tsp cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ½ tsp of ground black pepper
Bring water or almond milk to the boil then add all ingredients. Remove from heat and rest for a few minutes.
Zingy Lemon & Turmeric Tea
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 3” fresh ginger root
- juice of 2 lemons
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups coconut water
- sweeten with honey/agave to taste
Put turmeric, ginger, lemon juice, pepper and water in a high-speed blender and blend until combined. Keep refrigerated.
Orange, Ginger, Carrot and Turmeric Juice
If you have a juicer try a blend of orange, carrot and fresh ginger to which you then add ½ teaspoon of turmeric and a twist of black pepper. You could also use apple or lemon instead of orange. Serve well chilled.
Savoury Turmeric Dishes – Not Just for Curry
Get inventive with adding turmeric to many different dishes. We know it’s a traditional ingredient in curry, but it also lends itself well to vegetable dishes and marinades for meat and fish. Here are some suggestions:
- 1 250ml cup of Basmati rice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ cup diced onion
- 2 cloves garlic – crushed
- 2 ½ cups of water
Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté diced onions until soft but do not allow to brown. Add the turmeric and garlic and cook for a few minutes. Add water and then the rice. Cover with lid, reduce heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until rice has absorbed the liquid.
Sticky Turmeric Chicken
Quick and easy to prepare, this sticky, sweet and savoury dish will be a real favourite.
- 4 chicken thighs (skin on)
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 garlic cloves (crushed)
- 2 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp hoisin or soy sauce
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
Mix all marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Pour over chicken thighs, having first scored the skin with a sharp knife.
Heat a griddle pan (heavy-based non-stick frying pan will work too) and cook the chicken thighs, turning once. Check carefully by cutting into one of the thighs to check it is cooked through to the middle.
Golden Milk Turmeric Ice Cream
Here’s a recipe for the healthiest ice cream you’ve ever had (with thanks to www.organicandhealthy.org) You don’t even need an ice cream maker as no churning is required. The secret of the creaminess is the addition of pre-soaked raw cashews to the coconut milk.
- 1 x 14oz can coconut milk
- ½ of a 14oz can coconut cream (or ½ cup coconut milk or coconut yogurt)
- 1 cup raw cashews (soaked)
- 3 tsp raw pecans (and as many other pecans as desired for topping)
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- ¼ tsp cardamom
- soak cashews in a bowl of water overnight (or until soggy—a minimum of 2 hours)
- once the cashews are ready, layer a standard meatloaf pan with parchment paper, allowing the ends to hang over the sides. Place in the freezer while preparing the ice cream
- drain cashews and add them to a blender or food processor—along with all the other ingredients
- process on high until pecans and cashews are broken down and everything is fully combined
- remove the prepared pan from the freezer and pour the ice cream mixture into the pan
- place in the freezer overnight to harden. Be sure to place the pan on a flat surface, so it hardens evenly
- the next day, remove from the freezer
Any recipes we haven’t thought of? Please let us know your favourites. Share Your Recipes
No Time to Cook?
It happens to everyone at certain times; life gets busy and cooking doesn’t even make it to the back burner. So how to ensure you still get the health-giving and protective benefits of turmeric?
Here’s a carefully sourced, high-quality supplement to give you that boost of pure gold every day – and it even has the vital pinch of black pepper already added to make sure you get the maximum benefit of nature’s finest help to mankind.