A cousin of ginger, turmeric is a golden root that’s rich in curcumin, a compound known for its cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric also contains a substance known as lipopolysaccharide, which helps stimulate the body’s immune system. Its antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal agents also help strengthen the immune system. A strong immune system lessens the chance of suffering from colds, flu and coughs and may help prevent development of certain diseases.
Turmeric has a gorgeous orange color and, when added to recipes, makes dishes bright and vibrant in color. You can use alone or as part of a curry powder – turmeric is typically included in this spice blend. You can find ground turmeric in the spice section of any grocery store. If you opt for the dried version, be sure to check the label and make sure you’re getting 100% turmeric, not a blend or anything with artificial colors added.
You can also buy turmeric fresh (usually next to the ginger root) in the produce section of the grocery store. Dean’s Natural Food Market almost always has it available. Peel fresh turmeric just like ginger root using the edge of a spoon. 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.
Six ways to enjoy turmeric:
- Blend into a smoothie
While fresh turmeric root is especially great in juices and smoothies, a pinch of the ground spice is good too. The slightly pungent flavor is usually well masked in smoothies.
Try a recipe: Peppered Tumeric Smoothie
- Sip on tea
Steep ginger and turmeric for a soothing warm beverage.
- Toss it with roasted vegetables
Turmeric’s slightly warm and peppery flavor works especially well with cauliflower, potatoes, and root vegetables.
Try a recipe: Dijon Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower
- Try it with greens
Sprinkle turmeric into sautéed or braised greens like kale, collards, and cabbage.
- Use it in soups
A bowl of soup feels even more warming when it’s tinged with golden turmeric.
Try a recipe: Curried Butternut Squash Soup
- Enjoy as a latte
Golden Milk Latte is a nutrition trend is buzzing on the internet. Sip on this beverage of simmered turmeric with non-dairy milk and honey to make an earthy and comforting beverage.
Adding a touch of fresh cracked pepper to your dishes that contain turmeric may increase the amount of time the powerful compound curcumin remains in your blood stream, so feel free to add a twist from your grinder before enjoying the recipes above.
Article by Julie Harrington, RDN | Reviewed and edited by Jeanne Petrucci, MS, RDN