A long time popular spice in India, turmeric is just beginning to make a splash in North America. The orange-yellow spice has reported health benefits that range from reducing inflammation to increasing circulation to protecting against certain cancers. Adding a little to your diet each day is easier than you might imagine.

Derived from a root grown mainly in India, turmeric contains an active compound known as curcumin. This anti-inflammatory compound helps to combat free radicals, plaque, and other toxins in the body. Here are just a few things turmeric can do for you:

Boosts brain support

Turmeric helps to keep the brain functioning properly. Curcumin has be found to cross the blood-brain barrier and bind with plaque. This has a positive effect on cognitive functioning and may delay, or even reverse, certain brain diseases like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Anti-inflammatory relief

Turmeric might just relieve your inflammation better than those over the counter meds you’ve been taking. Curcumin has been found to ease the inflammation caused by inflammatory bowel disease, arthritis, pancreatitis and more.

Aids in cardiovascular health

Curcumin removes plaque build up in the arteries, preventing blockages. It also has been found to reduce bad LDL-cholesterol levels.

Improves digestion

Because it is an anti-inflammatory, curcumin can reduce or ease bloating, gas and other problems in the digestive tract. It should be noted, however, that turmeric stimulates the gall bladder so people with gall bladder disease should avoid taking it on a daily basis to prevent over stimulation.

So now that you know all the ways turmeric can improve your health, it is time to get cooking! Luckily, turmeric has a very adaptable, mild, earthy flavor which makes it a perfect addition to nearly every dish you make!

Here are just a few ways you can start enjoying turmeric today! (For  more healthy recipes, check out the BodyRock Meal Plan)

Special note: To get the full health benefits of turmeric, it is best to pair it with some pepper. Herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt, explains, “To get the most out of your turmeric add 3% black pepper to the mix. Black pepper improves the bioavailability of turmeric, making smaller doses more effective.” Roughly, this is a 1/2 teaspoon of ground pepper to 1/4 cup turmeric. The easiest way to deal with this is to mix the pepper into the turmeric when you are transferring it to a spice jar.

Iced Turmeric Latte

This tasty drink can also be enjoyed warm which makes it a solid go-to no matter the season!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup cashew milk (or milk of your choice — dairy and non-dairy both work)
  • 4 teaspoons finely grated fresh turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons finely grated palm sugar or raw sugar
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 pinches of ground cardamom
  • Pinch of flaky sea salt
  • Lemon wedge (for serving)

Directions:

  1. Whisk milk, turmeric, palm sugar, ginger, lemon juice, cardamom, and salt in a small bowl until sugar and salt have dissolved; let sit 5 minutes to let flavors meld. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup, pressing on solids to extract juices; discard solids.
  2. Fill a glass with ice. Pour latte over and serve with lemon

Tropical Carrot, Ginger, and Turmeric Smoothie

A sunny looking, savory smoothie to get your day started right!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 blood or navel orange, peel and white pith removed
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup frozen mango chunks
  • ⅔ cup coconut water
  • 1 tablespoon shelled raw hemp seeds
  • ¾ teaspoon finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1½ teaspoons finely grated peeled turmeric
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:

Using smoothie or ice crush setting, purée orange, carrot, mango, coconut water, hemp seeds, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, salt, and ½ cup ice in a blender until smooth.

Weeknight Red Curry

Don’t let the ingredients list scare you, this recipe is easy AND delicious!

Ingredients: 

  • 1 large shallot
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled, cut into pieces
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons red curry paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1½ cups whole peeled tomatoes, plus juices from one 15-ounce can or half of one 28-ounce can
  • 1 13.5-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound mixed vegetables (such as cauliflower, carrots, and/or shallots), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound firm white fish (such as halibut or cod), skin removed, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • Cooked rice noodles, cilantro leaves with tender stems, and lime wedges (for serving)

Directions: 

  1. Pulse shallot, garlic, and ginger in a food processor to finely chop. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium. Add shallot mixture and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add curry paste and turmeric; cook, stirring, until paste is darkened in color and mixture starts to stick to pan, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, breaking up with your hands, then juices. Cook, stirring often and scraping up browned bits, until tomatoes start to break down and stick to pot, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in coconut milk and season with salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until mixture is slightly thickened and flavors meld, 8–10 minutes. Add vegetables and pour in enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender, 8–10 minutes.
  3. Season fish all over with salt and nestle into curry (add a little more water if it’s very thick). Return to a simmer and cook just until fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes.
  4. Spoon curry over rice noodles and top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Curried Cauliflower Soup

Like a warm hug in a bowl!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
  • 2 medium white onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to season
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut into florets
  • 4 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to season
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashew halves, for garnish
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley, for garnish (optional)
  • Red pepper flakes, for garnish (optional)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Cook the onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt until onions are soft and translucent, 8 to 9 minutes. Reduce heat to low, add garlic, and cook for 2 additional minutes. Add cauliflower, broth or water, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer until cauliflower is fork-tender, about 15 minutes.
  2. Working in batches, purée the soup in a blender until smooth and then return the soup to the soup pot. (Alternatively, use an immersion blender to purée the soup right in the pot.) Stir in the coconut milk and warm the soup. Taste and add more salt, pepper, or spices if you’d like.
  3. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a handful of toasted cashews, a few springs of parsley, sprinkle of red pepper flakes, and a dash of olive oil to top.

Turmeric-Tahini Dressing

Take your salad to the next level with this healthy dressing!

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

Whisk together tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, turmeric, cayenne, and ¼ cup water until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Remember, you can find fresh turmeric in the produce section of a well stocked grocery store (usually near the ginger). If your recipe calls for fresh turmeric and all you have is dried, keep this conversion in mind: 1 inch fresh turmeric = 1 tablespoon freshly grated turmeric = 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

Are you willing to give this super spice a try?

 

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