8 Amazing Ways To Cook With Turmeric

What is Turmeric?

Note the deep orange hue of turmeric root next to the paler ginger spice in the bowl

Note the deep orange hue of turmeric root next to the paler ginger spice in the bowl

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family. You are probably familiar with it as a dried spice, or powder. It is sold separately as turmeric, or blended into curry mixes, giving them their characteristic yellow hue. Many of us are less familiar with the root form of turmeric which is frequently found next to fresh ginger root in the produce section of your store. It is smaller than ginger, certainly less knobby, and has a vivid orange hue versus the pale golden color of ginger root.

What’s all the turmeric health buzz?

Search for turmeric on the web and you'll find a host of health benefits for this root. Benefits range from improving arthritis, alleviating depression, lowering your risk of heart disease and even preventing cancer. Many of these health issues are linked to a common root, namely oxidative stress.

The body produces unstable free oxygen molecules, also called free radicals. Antioxidants can quench or stabilize free radicals, preventing them from injuring or destroying cells and tissue. When the number of free radicals exceeds available antioxidants, oxidative stress occurs. This is important to understand, because when oxidative stress is left unmanaged it leads to inflammation. And we consider inflammation as the root of most disease.

Here’s the kicker. Oxidative stress causes inflammation. Too much inflammation causes more oxidative stress. It’s a cycle. And this is where turmeric plays a powerful trump card. It can literally work to stop the oxidative stress-inflammation cycle.

Turmeric is an ace in your deck of cards

If you read my blog articles, you are familiar with the term bioactives. Read more about them here. Turmeric contains the bioactive curcumin. Curcumin is a powerful bioactive which can turn on genes to produce powerful antioxidants. Far more powerful than the antioxidants you get from your diet, like Vitamin A and C. Curcumin can also turn off genes that produce inflammation. A little inflammation is okay. Uncontrolled inflammation is not.

Remember the oxidative stress - inflammation cycle I talked about before? Curcumin helps break that cycle and it does so by communicating with specific genes which we all have as humans. So now you know the key to turmeric’s dazzling list of benefits. In a nutshell it’s bioactive, curcumin helps block cycles that cause disease.

Quick tips for cooking with Turmeric

Now you know the benefits of turmeric, let’s get cooking!

Food is the information your body uses to function, so we want to maximize the "information" turmeric provides to your body. In the case of turmeric, we want to ensure that its bioactive, curcumin, is available to work with those antioxidant producing genes.

  • To maximize absorption of curcumin, look for recipes that include black pepper and a good source of fat such as olive or coconut oil with your turmeric.

  • Curry blends usually include black pepper and are incorporated into dishes using fat. A win-win for your genes!

  • If you use fresh turmeric root, peel it and grate it similar to ginger.

  • Be aware that turmeric can stain hands and surfaces, just like red beets. Wear gloves, or clean up right away. Washing your hands with a little oil before using a soap can help remove any stain.

  • To store fresh turmeric root, either freeze it in a freezer-safe bag or glass jar. Or wrap in a paper towel and place in a glass container or plastic bag in the fridge. If you don’t use it often, consider freezing it.

  • And one final nugget for you. Roasting turmeric root actually produces even more bioactive compounds capable of turning on those antioxidant-producing genes. A win-win!

8 simple to get cooking with turmeric

Savory ideas

My own go-to Curry Spice Blend that includes turmeric along with many other food-gene talking spices!

Branch out into roasting veggies with turmeric herbs and EVOO with this super tasty easy recipe from Pink Fortitude

Get your day off to a good start with this super simple and uber-tasty kale and turmeric scramble from Zest For Cooking

A super simple cauliflower soup with turmeric and cashews from Piping Hot Curry. Oh and made in the Instant Pot for you fans!

A luscious quinoa salad made with turmeric, walnuts and pomegranate seeds. What's not to love? From Wendy Polisi

Something Sweet

A delicious tropical fruit bowl with turmeric and yogurt. Mix and match your topics to suit your palate and your pocketbook from Natalie’s Health

Something Soothing

Attainable Sustainable makes a sweet and powerful “shot” of turmeric and ginger coated with honey. Helps soothe your throat and give your immune system a boost too!

An All-Rounder Turmeric Paste for Your Kitchen

Spice up your food and your genes with this beautiful turmeric paste from Savory Lotus. Add it to milk for a delicious beverage, or to stir fries, stews or rice for potent flavor!

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