Turmeric: The trending "super spice" + How to cook with it!
I worked for several hours on this post yesterday, adding research and photos and all the goods to make it as detail-oriented as possible, and then forgot to hit SAVE. So, that happened. Annnnnd Round 2! In this post I want to talk about turmeric, the "golden child" in the land of herbs and spices. When it comes to eating healthy, spices are often times overlooked. I just recently began researching 'Ayurvedic medicine', the benefits of certain herbs and spices and began dabbling in making my own "adoptogenic" herbal blends to incorporate into my smoothies. Adapto-what, you ask? Don't worry, one of my next posts will be all about Adaptogens and Ayurveda. Ayurvedic medicine focuses on "whole-body" or "holistic" natural healing and a large portion of this promotes herbal compounds for improving and maintainingbody wellness. Long story short, if you want to supercharge the health benefits of foods you’re already preparing, head on over to your spice rack!
Turmeric is nothing new to Western and Eastern cultures. It has been dubbed in fact, the“healing spice” and has been proven to help anything from sore throats, colds, flus, and stomachaches- to wound healing and treatment of abrasions and skin issues. Turmeric also has high amounts of phytonutrients that have been studied in depth especially for cancer prevention and restricting tumor growth. Turmeric has antibacterial, antiseptic, anti-carcinogenic and antimicrobial properties. Let's not forget to mention the real hero of this story, though-- when it comes to turmeric the attention should be on curcumin! Curcumin is the primary active component of turmeric and in and of itself possesses hundreds of health benefits including powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and immune boosting properties.
- Helps maintain cholesterol levels.
- Promotes digestive health.
- Liver detoxification
- Regulates metabolism and weight management.
- Assists with regulating high blood pressure
- Improves memory and brain function.
- Improves various skin conditions.
- Shown to help with people with Neurological disorders
- Lowers Triglycerides
Turmeric and curcumin have been used in dozens of medicinal studies and has been proven to:
- Improve Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Chron's
- Decrease inflammation in people suffering from rheumatoid arthtitis
- Aides with Cystic fibrosis symptoms
- Inhibition of cancer cell growth, prevention of colon/pancreatic cancer & tumor growth
- Prevention of Prostate cancer (when teamed up with our friend Cauliflower)
- Can reduce risk of childhood leukemia
- Diabetes regulation
- Improve liver function
- Cardiovascular benefits
- Cholestrol lowering
- Wound healing
SIDE NOTE: in order to boost the benefits and your body's absorption of turmeric, you should always adding a dash of black pepper! Black pepper contains 'piperine' which is it's "hot" property which enhances curcumin’s bioavailability by 1,000 times! Yeah, you heard me right- just by mixing turmeric and black pepper together, absorption rates increase by 2000%!
So, now that we know how AMAZING this super-spice is, how can one begin to incorporate it in their daily life and cooking? Unfortunately, few people know how to make it taste delicious and due to its unique flavor it is not the most "approachable" spice. Turmeric can range from fairly mild (white turmeric) to slightly bitter and astringent like the yellow Indian turmeric that you find in curry powder (YUM). Not only can you incorporate it into your cooking though, it's considered beneficial to bathe in i.e.- DIY Turmeric Brightening Face Mask (below)! It's astringent properties assist with "drawing out" toxins in the body and quench inflammation. And, if you’re a smoothie fan like me, turmeric is my go-to addition for that additional immune-boost!
Ways that I have found to easily incorporate Turmeric:
- Curry sauces
- Seasoning meat/poultry/fish/beans/tofu etc.
- Seasoning roasted vegetables- see Cauliflower below!
- Season rice, quinoa, other grains/legumes
- Use a dash in hummus
- Use in broth like soups/stews
- Golden Milk (see below) or Golden Hot Chocolate
- Baked Goods & Energy Bites (see below)
- Turmeric Poached Eggs (see BRINNER previous post!)
- Natural food coloring
- DIY Brightening Face Mask
You can also take turmeric supplements if you have no interest in it's flavor profile. I was weary of it at first but it quickly grew on me... not to mention the fact that I can pretty much stomach any flavor if I have a "this is so beneficial my health" mentality, lol...
Eat Your Heart Out...
Turmeric & Curry Crusted Chicken Breast
- 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts
- cast iron skillet
- 1-2 Tbs EVOO or Avocado oil or coconut oil for "frying"
- 3 tablespoons coconut flour (or almond)
- 1 heaping teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 egg
- 1 clove crushed garlic
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- First, for the "egg dip", In a small bowl combine egg, garlic, black pepper and salt, whisking until smooth.
- For the turmeric & curry coating: In a medium bowl, combine coconut flour, sea salt, curry powder, turmeric & black pepper (I also added a bit of Everything but the bagel seasoning)
- Using a whisk, mix together until combined.
- For the chicken: Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat; Add oil to the pan.
- Dip chicken in the egg mixture, then into the flour coating
- Make sure all sides are covered before placing coated chicken in the heated pan.
- Allow chicken pieces to cook until brown on the first side--about two or three minutes.
- Turn the chicken occasionally to brown the other sides-two or three more minutes.
- When chicken is cooked through completely, remove from the pan.
Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower
- 6 heaping cups cauliflower florets (from 1.5 pound cauliflower) cut into 1-inch florets; or bagged
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed
- 1/4 cup olive oil or avocado oil
- 1.5 tsp turmeric
- 1.5 tsp ground cumin
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro OR basil
- Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the cauliflower florets into 1-inch pieces and combine with the garlic in a large bowl. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat
- In a small bowl, combine the turmeric, cumin, pepper flakes, and salt. Sprinkle over the cauliflower and toss thoroughly to coat. Spread the cauliflower out on a large rimmed baking sheet
- Bake, stirring occasionally, until browned on the edges and tender, 20-25 minutes. Remove the from oven, sprinkle with cilantro, and serve hot!
No Bake Turmeric Energy Bites
- 6 Tbs Powdered Peanut Butter mixed with almond milk until smooth; or you can use regular 1/2-3/4 cup peanut butter, almond butter
- 1 Tbs honey & 1 Tbs maple syrup (if you don't have syrup you can just do 2Tbs honey) I LOVE madhava raw honey & their agave-maple syrup which has slightly less carbs than most maple syrups
- 1 Tbs Raw Cacoa Powder
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips or dairy free/vegan friendly chocolate chips
- dash of salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 Tbs ground turmeric
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 1 Tbs milled flax seeds
- 1 Tbs Chia seeds
- 6 Dried figs (soak for 10 minutes in warm water first)
- Hemp seeds for sprinkling on top
- Add figs, vanilla, honey/syrup into a food processor or blender and blend until combined well
- In a medium bowl, add all of the ingredients and stir to combine well. The mixture should be a bit sticky
- Use a spoon to scoop nearly a tablespoon of the cookie ball mixture into your hand. Roll into a ball. I find this works best if I moisten my hands and pat dry before handling, repeating this as needed. Repeat with remaining mixture. This should yield about 15-18 energy balls.
- Store the balls covered in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for much longer!
Drink it UP!
With turmeric's warm, slightly spicy, bold, and earthy flavor, when it's mixed with a hint of sweetness it makes the perfect night cap (sans the alcohol). Personally, and I've heard this often during researching, it is best consumed before bed as it helps with relaxation!
Golden Milk (serves 1)
- 1.5 cups of milk of choice (cashew (my fave), almond, pecan, coconut and dairy all work in this recipe) or you can use bone broth in place of the milk for a more hearty tea
- 1 tsp ground turmeric powder or turmeric paste (I've also seen "Golden Milk" paste at Earthfare)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch of black pepper (remember: increases absorption!)
- tiny piece of fresh, peeled ginger root or 1/8 tsp ginger powder
- pinch of cayenne pepper (completely optional)
- 1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup to taste (also optional)
- 1 tsp coconut oil (also optional)
- Two ways to do this: a) blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender until smooth and add to saucepan or b) pour ingredients into small saucepan and blend with immersion blender until frothy (be carfeful to keep immersion blender immersed as to not fling golden milk all over you and your kitchen), then heat for 3-5 minutes over medium heat until hot but not boiling
- Drink immediately once cooled enough for sipping!
Turmeric Hot Chocolate
A wonderful alternative to Golden Milk, if you're more into chocolate > vanilla drinks. Try to use real cocoa or cacao powder & avoid cocoa mixes since they contain less of the real ground cocoa beans and add preservatives and sugar!
- 1 cup whole milk (preferably plain unsweetened coconut milk, or plain, unsweetened almond milk)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened Cacao Powder
- 2 teaspoons sweetener of your choice such as honey, brown sugar, maple syrup or agave
- 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric powder or 1/2 teaspoon finely grated, peeled turmeric root
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Place the milk, cocoa powder, sweetener, turmeric, and cinnamon in a small saucepan.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the cocoa and spices are mixed well and the mixture is warm.
- Drink immediately
Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Ashwaganda Smoothie Bowl:
- 1 tsp Ashwaganda Powder (adaptogenic herb I will discuss further in my adaptogen post!)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp Chia Seeds
- 1 tsp Milled flax
- 1/2 Cup almond milk or milk of choice- add more as needed until thickness you prefer achieved
- 1/2 banana (can be frozen!)
- 2 Tbs PB fit- powdered PB or regular nut butter
- 1/2 cup frozen berries of choice (I like jamba juice frozen beets and berry blend)
- 1/2 cup frozen cauliflower florets (I used green giant multi-color medley)
- 1 scoop vanilla or chocolate protein powder
- Toppings of choice if going smoothie-bowl route: shredded coconut or coconut chips, berries, banana, oats, granola, hemp seeds, nuts etc...
- Blend all ingredients in high powered blender; add milk as needed, I use less with bowls but I have to stir it up often due to thickness!
- Pour into glass or bowl and add preferred toppings!
Show your skin some love...
DIY Turmeric Skin-Brightening Face Mask
- 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder.
- 2 Tbs flour or cornstarch (to thicken the paste)
- A few drops of runny honey (warm for a few seconds in microwave)
- For oily skin: 1/4 cup plain yogurt & few drops of lemon juice
- For dry skin: 2 Tbs coconut oil, sweet almond oil, or olive oil (more if you desire)
- Mix the flour and turmeric together. Once combined, stir in the honey.
- If you have oily skin: Add lemon juice and stir. Slowly mix in the yogurt until a creamy paste is formed. Use more or less yogurt to your liking.
- If you have dry skin: Add the oil slowly and stir until a paste is formed. Add more for more creaminess.
- Apply mask to face and neck.
- Leave the mask on for 15-20 minutes.
- Using a warm, wet washcloth that you don't mind staining (turmeric will stain), rinse off the mask.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Thank you so much for reading! If you have any questions about any of these recipes feel free to comment below or ask me!