When it comes to eating healthy, spices are many times overlooked. So if you want to supercharge the health benefits of the foods you’re already eating while adding more interest to your meals, head to the spice rack.
Turmeric is an unforgettable spice. Use it once and you’ll always remember its vibrant color and its special flavor. Indians use turmeric liberally but if this golden spice is new to you find out more about its versatility, how to use it in cooking and why it’s considered a superfood.
Always add turmeric at the beginning of the cooking process
In India turmeric is always added at the beginning of the cooking process and sauteed with other aromatics such as onions, ginger and garlic. This allows the release of curcumin, which is fat soluble. Another popular use for turmeric in cooking is golden milk. Considered an anti-inflammatory elixir, this drink is used to treat everything from colds to arthritis.
Although it is traditionally found in Indian curries, turmeric features in a variety of American dishes and condiments. Do you find it hard to believe? Turmeric is what colors American processed cheese, mustard, butter, yellow cake mix, popcorn and dozens of other products.
Turmeric is beloved in Iranian cuisine, where it is commonly combined with black pepper, cinnamon and cardamom in a spice mix called advieh. Moroccans also use turmeric in cooking. They combine it with saffron in harira, a soup eaten at the end of Ramadan. Also, turmeric is one of the spices in the famous mixture called ras-el-hanout.
Combine turmeric with healthy fats
Turmeric is simple to cook with, but to unleash the full potency it has to be eaten warm in a dish that contains healthy fats — since many of the vital compounds are fat-soluble.
If you’re using the whole root, peel the skin off with a potato peeler and finely mince as you would with ginger root. Saute with carrots, onions, celery, for any recipes that use cooked vegetables (like soups, stir-frys, chilies, stews).
Use fresh turmeric
If you’re a fan of mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes, simply add finely grated turmeric. For the ground dried turmeric: add to your steak or chicken rub, add a pinch to salad dressings, or mix in to your marinara or hot sauce. Add dressing or sauce will easily accommodate a pinch without changing the flavor much. Remember to pair turmeric with pepper as much as you can, as this is what makes turmeric absorbable in the body.
If you’re a smoothie fan, turmeric is the ideal booster to add to your smoothie repertoire. Orange turmeric pairs well with orange, pink or red superfoods like carrot, pumpkin, red bell pepper, raspberries, goji berries and citrus.
Numerous studies have categorized turmeric as a super food. Indeed, the spice has been lauded for its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties found in curcumin. It is believed to be a cancer fighter, especially in cancers affecting the digestive system. Turmeric is also used to treat a host of diseases, from respiratory illness to liver troubles and easing arthritis.