Turmeric: A Tasty Ingredient with Healing Power
by Rob Fischer
Perhaps the spice turmeric conjures up some of the vivid sights, sounds and smells of India. This exotic yellow herb has been a part of India’s culinary culture for centuries. But the rich heritage of turmeric doesn’t end at the palate. Turmeric also holds a prominent position in India and other parts of the world for its powerful medicinal properties. And it’s coming into its own in the US as well.
More specifically, curcumin is the active compound in the pungent spice turmeric that renders its healing powers. Curcumin ranks among the most potent anti-inflammatory compounds known to man. (Equal or better than hydrocortisone and phenylbutazone and other over-the-counter anti-inflammatories, but without the nasty side effects of those drugs.)
Additionally, new research reveals that curcumin also:
- Kills fungal infections
- Lowers blood sugar
- Protects against cognitive and memory loss
- Kills some forms of cancer
- Treats rheumatoid arthritis
- Manages depression
- And more!
If you’re looking to get the health benefits of turmeric, pair it with pepper. Black pepper improves the bioavailability of turmeric, making smaller doses more effective. To get the most out of your turmeric add 3% black pepper to the mix. This works out to about 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper to 1/4 cup of turmeric. To make it easy, simply premix pepper into your jar of turmeric.
A cousin of ginger, turmeric is also a root (actually, a rhizome) with a deep golden color and a sharp, slightly bitter flavor. You can find ground turmeric in the spice section of any grocery store. More recently, fresh turmeric root is available in the produce section of many grocery and specialty stores. To use the fresh root, you first need to peel it. Then simply grate with a microplane grater or cut off whole pieces. You can wrap the unused portion tightly in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for a week to 10 days.
There are plenty of recipes that employ turmeric – especially curries – but how do you get turmeric into your diet every day? Below you’ll find a delicious recipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus a bonus recipe. So let’s get started!
Breakfast: Spicy Potatoes and Scrambled Eggs
- 2 potatoes, scrubbed
- 4 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
- 3 eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp chili powder
- Pierce potatoes with a fork or knife and microwave on high until they are cooked through. Once fully cooked, peel and cut into small cubes and set aside.
- Pour 2 tablespoons of oil into a skillet and scramble the 3 eggs, adding salt and pepper to taste. Cover to keep warm until potatoes are ready.
- In another skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of oil, then mix in all the spices and add the potatoes. Cook these until they’re golden brown and crispy.
- Stir eggs and potatoes in together and serve hot.
Lunch: Tacos with Turmeric Spiced Chicken and Tomato Avocado Salsa
This recipe three parts: the turmeric spiced chicken, the tomato avocado salsa, and the tacos. You’ll need a total prep time of at least 30 minutes. (Read directions first.)
Turmeric Spiced Chicken Ingredients
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, trimmed
Tomato Avocado Salsa ingredients
- 6 medium vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks (2 ½ cups)
- 2 avocados, peeled and cut into ½-inch chunks (1 ½ cups)
- ½ cup coarsely chopped red onion
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 2 cups shredded lettuce
- 8 flour tortillas (8-inch)
- To prepare the chicken, mix the oil and all the spices in a small bowl. Place the chicken in a large glass bowl. Add the prepared marinade and coat all chicken pieces well. Refrigerate 30 minutes or more for extra flavor.
- Meanwhile, prepare the salsa. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl and cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Remove chicken from marinade and discard remaining marinade. Grill chicken over medium-high heat 6 to 8 minutes per side or until cooked through. Cut chicken into thin strips.
- Place ¼ cup lettuce on each tortilla and add chicken and salsa. Fold and roll tortillas to serve up to eight people.
Dinner: Turmeric Shrimp Stew
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 2 pounds whole shelled shrimp
- 1 ¼ tsp garlic salt
- ¾ tsp ground turmeric
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- 4 cups peeled and cubed potatoes
- 3 cups organic chicken broth
- 1 ½ cups frozen peas and carrots
- Pepper, to taste
- Heat oil in 5-quart Dutch oven on medium heat. Add onion; cook and stir 5 minutes or until softened.
- Add shrimp; cook and stir until no longer pink. Add all remaining spices. Cook and stir 1 minute.
- Stir in potatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer uncovered 15 minutes.
- Add peas and carrots and simmer 10 more minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- Serve over rice or pasta if desired.
And especially for those who enjoy smoothies, we’ve included a bonus recipe!
Anti-Aging Coconut Turmeric Smoothie
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/2 cup diced pineapple
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 tsp ground (or freshly grated) turmeric
- 2 tsp chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- Pinch of black pepper
Blend all ingredients until smooth and creamy!
Considering that inflammation plays a major role in most chronic illnesses, an anti-inflammatory agent like turmeric spice is perfect for prevention purposes. Enjoy these four delicious recipes using turmeric, the wonder herb of the East. Turmeric can be an affordable staple in your home to avoid illness, keep your immune system strong, and stay young.
If you liked this article, then you’ll love these:
- Best Turmeric Supplements
- Turmeric: The Golden Goddess
- Osteoarthritis: Taking Care of Degenerative Joints
Rob Fischer has been writing professionally for over 35 years. His experience includes ghostwriting, creating curricula, study guides, articles, blogs, newsletters, manuals, workbooks, and training courses. He has written over a dozen books and serves as an editor for a nationally known copywriter.