The Medicine In Your Pantry, Part 1: Turmeric

turmeric

You may not be aware of it, but odds are, you have a potent, disease-fighting arsenal in your kitchen cupboards. Many of the common culinary herbs and spices not only have the power to transform bland dishes into sheer heavenly deliciousness, they also pack quite a potent, health-boosting punch. Over the next while, I aim to bring you some profiles on some of my favourite herbs and spices, along with ideas for incorporating them into your diet.

If you read health articles at all, you’ve no doubt seen a few on the amazing properties of turmeric. Few natural substances have been as intensively researched as this beautiful golden spice. It has been shown to be helpful in the treatment and/or prevention of inflammation, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and cardiovascular disease, just to name a few! The best part? Turmeric happens to be quite tasty, and can be easily enjoyed in your diet on a regular basis. Here are my favourite ways to enjoy it:

1. Explore Indian and Thai cuisine.

Turmeric is widely used in many Thai and Indian dishes. The most obvious would be yellow curries, one of the most delicious means (in my opinion!) of enjoying the spice. Not only are these cuisines incredibly tasty, they are generally gluten-free, and often dairy-free (or easily made so) as well. The added bonus? You can even get a good dose of turmeric in while treating yourself to a meal out!

2. Add it to soups and stews.

A pinch of turmeric is an easy and mild-tasting addition to many soups and stews. There are many recipes out there for soups featuring turmeric (a quick Google search for “turmeric soup” will yield hundreds of delicious ideas!), or you can add a dash to your own favourite recipes. Turmeric pairs best with garlic, onions, ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander, as well as dishes featuring rice, lentils, and vegetables.

3. Add a pinch to your smoothie.

Similarly to soups and stews, turmeric is very easily added to your smoothies. It pairs well with common smoothie ingredients such as ginger, cinnamon, and coconut.

4. Make Tea.

Turmeric can also be easily made into a tea. I recommend it often, paired with ginger and a touch of honey. Make ginger tea (you can use either fresh or dried ginger) with boiling water, and add ½ tsp of turmeric, and honey to taste. You can certainly add less turmeric if you find the taste overwhelming, or add more if you enjoy its pungent aroma. Because of the warming properties of ginger, this combination is especially wonderful in the cold winter months.

5. Turmeric Bombs!

If you want the health benefits of dietary turmeric, but aren’t a fan of its taste (or just want something more convenient), try Turmeric Bombs! When made with the honey option, the taste is easily masked, although I prefer the additional health benefits of the coconut oil. I consider the quercetin to be optional, and make mine without it.

 

There are also many (very potent) supplements on the market that contain curcumin, a compound extracted from turmeric, and they are very useful for a variety of health conditions. Because they are much more potent than dietary turmeric, I recommend consulting a qualified Naturopathic Doctor to see if these supplements are right for you.

If you want to know more about the wonderful world of spices and health, one of my favourite books is Healing Spices by Dr. Bharat B. Aggarwal, a leading researcher on turmeric and other spices.