Turmeric—that beautiful yellow-orange spice that turns ordinary white rice into a work of art. If you’ve ever eaten a curry dish or other Indian dish, chances are, you’ve tried turmeric. This exotic root is used in a multitude of dishes, and has fantastic healing benefits.
Science has long known that plants could be used to promote healing and prevent disease. Many of our modern medicines are derived from plants. Ancient written records show that our ancestors used plants for healing. Animals did the same. Some of these same plants and spices are used in modern kitchens, and to most, their healing properties are largely unknown.
Turmeric is one of those incredible spices. It has historically been burned to relieve congestion, turned into a paste to help heal skin conditions, and even worn to ward off evil sprits. Turmeric’s vibrant color comes from curcumin, which is jam-packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin is known to attack cancer cells and protect healthy cells from cancer-causing agents. It also helps to lower cholesterol, aid in digestive balance, ward off Alzheimer’s, and prevent heart disease. Unfortunately, turmeric has come under fire in the past two months. Recent studies have tried to disprove the efficacy of this golden herb, saying that it gives a false positive on tests, thereby limiting its health benefits.
From a TCM perspective, this earthy, somewhat bitter, peppery root supports the function of your Stomach and Spleen. TCM believes that warming foods such as turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger help to heal and nourish the body, keeping your organs and entire system functioning properly. While certain foods may have more healing properties than others, no one food is a miracle cure. Turmeric has definite healing benefits, and when paired with a healthy, balanced lifestyle of little stress, happiness, meditation or Qigong, and foods for healing, turmeric can certainly provide your body with a good, healthy boost.
Chefs also love working with turmeric because it is packed with pungent flavor. So let’s get cooking! Follow these tips:
1. Fresh is always best! Use a mortar and pestle to mash fresh turmeric root into a paste that can be used in a multitude of savory dishes.
2. If you cannot find the fresh root, buy dried turmeric powder. Store it in a tin in a cool, dark place for up to six months.
3. A little goes a long way! Use just a dash of turmeric to perk up a bowl of soup or a spinach omelet.
Take this recipe for a spin: Spiced Cauliflower