Turmeric is a plant native to South-East Asia that has so many health benefits it puts us all into a spin. While we often rabbit on about adding spices into meals for an extra health kick, we really do believe that this ancient spice is the bomb, which is why we chose it for our next installment of “A bluffer’s guide to…”
Today it’s all about turmeric
Turmeric has been used for more than 4000 years in a variety of different ways, from a natural preservative to a dye for fabric. It is part of the ginger family and has a warm, earthy and slightly bitter flavour. The subtle taste of turmeric means there are many ways to incorporate it into your cooking repertoire to reap the benefits of this amazing spice.
While the powder is commonly used in curries, condiments and sauces, the fresh turmeric root has been widely used in medicine throughout history for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.
Nutritional benefits of turmeric:
- Is a natural antiseptic and antibacterial agent, making it useful for treating cuts and burns, and skin conditions.
- Is an anti-inflammatory and is used to eleviate symptoms of arthritis, asthma, bloating, digestion issues, liver problems, heartburn and headaches.
- Aids in fat metabolism and weight management.
- Has been traditionally used as a treatment for depression.
- Prevents and slows the progression of Alzeheimer‘s disease.
- Can help to stop the growth of new blood vessels in cancerous tumours.
- Helps to prevent strokes by reducing the risk of blood clots in arteries.
- Has been shown to be beneficial in preventing breast, prostate, skin and colon cancer.
- Aids in the treatment of diabetes by helping to moderate blood insulin levels.
- Contains lipopolysaccharide which helps to stimulate the immune system.
Different types of turmeric:
Turmeric can be bought dried and ground, as a fresh root or as a paste in a jar. You can also buy turmeric capsules which are to be taken as a health supplement.
Where to buy turmeric:
Ground turmeric powder can be found in the herb and spice section of most supermarkets. Fresh turmeric is in season from July -October and November – February. Keep an eye out for it in Asian supermarkets and farmers markets and some major supermarkets stock it in the fresh produce section (usually next to the ginger). When buying fresh turmeric, look for roots that are firm, smooth and free of mould. Turmeric capsules can be found in some chemists and health food stores.
How to store turmeric:
Ground turmeric powder should be kept in an airtight container in a cool dark place in your pantry and will last up to three years. To check if it’s still fresh, taste a little bit. If it’s flavourless and stale it has gone off. Fresh turmeric can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container in water for up to three weeks if it is unpeeled. Alternatively, fresh turmeric freezes really well and can be kept in the freezer for six months.
Delicious ways to cook with turmeric:
There are loads of ways to incorporate this amazing spice into your diet.
- Use in marinades for chicken, lamb, beef or fish.
- Mix together 2 tablespoons tahini, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, pinch of sea salt, 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger and 1 teaspoon ground or fresh turmeric for a salad dressing.
- Blend coconut water, coconut flesh, 1/2 teaspoon dried turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, a sprinkle of ground cardamom and 1 tablespoon of rice malt syrup for a healthy anti-inflammatroy smoothie.
- Mix into Dijon mustard for a healthy twist.
- Add fresh or ground turmeric to egg and veggie scrambles for an anti-inflammatory boost.
- Juice fresh turmeric along with carrots and ginger for a punchy drink.
- Add a pinch of ground turmeric to hummus.
- Sprinkle dried turmeric on popcorn along with some olive oil, sea salt and chilli flakes.
- Combine 1 cup warm almond milk with 1 teaspoon fresh or ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon rice malt syrup for a calming bedtime drink.
- Cover cauliflower florets with turmeric and coconut oil before roasting.
- Make turmeric tea to sooth sore throats and coughs.