Food of the Month: Turmeric is Tur-Mendous


February 5, 2013

Care of Laura Wright

TurmericThe bright yellow powder derived from fresh turmeric roots is most commonly recognized in curry powder blends and bright yellow American mustard. It is most often accessible in powdered form, but did you know that it belongs to a perennial family of plants similar to ginger? Fresh roots of this rhizomatous plant look alarmingly similar to the popular tea time staple. It certainly leaves its mark everywhere, a vibrant and deep yellow hue. In the realm of healthy and virtuous living, it leaves a distinctive mark as well.

It’s a highly effective and totally natural disease fighting agent, mostly due to the presence of more than 20 anti-inflammatory compounds. Curcumin, an antioxidant that also fights inflammation, gives the spice its saturated yellow appearance. Because of the antioxidant’s content in the spice, regular consumption may aid in prevention of heart disease and arthritis. It’s also applied as a salve for wounds in some parts of the world. At one time, bandages were saturated with the spice in India to speed up the healing process.

Consumption of this wonder spice may prove to be an effective treatment for Alzheimer’s disease as well. In India, where turmeric is used with frequency in cooking, rates of Alzheimer’s rank lowest in the world–from 1 to 3 percent. Research has shown that the antioxidant curcumin helps prevent the buildup of harmful plaque in the brain, a signification of the disease.

On cooking with it: It generally works in any veggie or tofu/tempeh saute you could rig up since the flavour is fairly mild. Once you have the oil hot enough, drop a teaspoon or so of turmeric into the pan and stir it around to bloom the spice. Add any other aromatics you may be using (garlic, chilies, herbs etc) and move on with the rest of your dish. The flavour and fragrance will open up dramatically once the heat is applied. I also love to drop in a few pinches with the water if I’m cooking up a pot of basmati rice or quinoa, just for an extra anti-inflammation boost.

Or take a sip: This little variation on turmeric tea is one of my favourite ways to wake up. It’s also comforting when a cold begins to strike with all of the warming spice. In a small saucepan, bring 1.5 cups of water, 1 tsp ground turmeric, a few slices of fresh ginger, a small pinch of cayenne pepper, a big squeeze of agave/ maple syrup and a splash of apple cider vinegar to a heavy simmer. Pour this golden and healing drink into a cup and feel better.

Filed under: Eat Veg elifelines Food of the Month Nutrition