Lately I’ve been reading a lot about the astounding health benefits of turmeric. I’ve always had a bottle of the dried stuff lurking somewhere in the back of my spice rack, but until recently, it rarely found its way into my cooking.
Turmeric is a root with tough brown skin and bright yellow-orange flesh – you’ll most often find it used in Indian, Pakistani, Persian and Thai cuisine. In addition to imparting wonderful earthy flavor and bright color into whatever you cook it with, turmeric also contains anti oxidant, anti viral, anti bacterial, anti fungal, anti carcinogenic, anti mutagenic, and anti inflammatory properties – that’s a lot of really good antis. Turmeric contains a powerful substance called curcumin, which has been linked to cancer prevention (including slowing the growth of preexisting cancerous tumors and destroying cancer cells), relief from arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease prevention (and also slowing the progression of the disease), reduced risk of heart disease, liver detoxification, reduced cholesterol, reduced weight gain, regulated insulin levels, reduced cramping, and a strengthened immune system. Ah, yeah…I’m convinced.
Once I started reading about how this little root can do so much for our health and bodies, I decided to make a concerted effort to regularly incorporate it into my diet. I still have turmeric powder, but I’m a big believer in using food in its whole and original form (when possible) so I ordered a few pounds of the fresh stuff online (you can also find fresh turmeric root occasionally at Whole Foods and other health stores).
I prep turmeric by peeling it with my favorite vegetable peeler and then either slicing, chopping, mincing, or finely grating it (with a Microplane) into whatever it is I’m cooking it with. I store whatever I’m not using either in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator, or tightly wrapped up in the freezer.
Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate turmeric (both ground and fresh) into my diet:
- Blended into a smoothie or green juice
- Steeped in hot water with ginger and a little agave (recipe here)
- Grated into marinades (for tofu, tempeh & veggies), sauces, and salad dressings
- Grated into pots of rice, quinoa, and other grains, and beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
- Grated into homemade veggie burger/lentil loaf mixtures
- Tossed into tofu scrambles
- Thinly sliced into stir fries
- Minced and used in soups, stews, curries and broths
- Chopped and roasted with vegetables and/or potatoes
- Sprinkled on top of cooked dark leafy greens
What are your favorite ways to use turmeric?
(image via Pinterest)