Turmeric is a spice with such an amazing flavour and medicinal properties that you’ll be wanting to sprinkle it on your cereal before you know it... but wait as I have some much more palatable ideas. This potent spice has serious anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties just to name a few.
You will have come across turmeric in curry powders, mustards, sauces and cheeses.
With the Worldwide trend toward using natural additives in reducing the complications of diseases (Alleluia!) it is fitting that we explore the addition of common spices to tickle our taste buds, brighten up our dishes and our enhance our health.
Turmeric has been used medicinally in Ayurvedic practice since 1900BC. It also features in Indian and Traditional Chinese medicine. In 1910 Curumin (diferuloylmethane), a poly-phenolic compound (curcuminoid) was isolated as the active ingredient responsible for turmeric’s numerous therapeutic activities, including those of the skin, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal systems, aches, pains, wounds, sprains, and liver disorders.
Curcumin is widely used medicinally as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimutagenic, antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-hyperglyaecemic and cancer preventive agent.
Turmeric has been shown to have positive outcomes in the treatment of chronic inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, oesophagitis, ulcerative colitis, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and post‐surgical inflammation.
There is extensive research to back up the therapeutic claims of this wonder spice and it widely believed that it has potential against various malignant diseases including allergies, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, inflammatory bowel diseases (due to its increased bioavailability in the gastrointestinal tract), hepatic fibrosis and gastrointestinal cancers. Research is currently being conducted.
Turmeric spice is made from steaming, drying and grinding the orange coloured rhizomes of the leafy green Curcuma Longa plant. It is not difficult to buy and a fresh rhizome planted in your garden will give rise to this attractive plant. It is worth noting that whilst fresh is often best, the extraction and drying process actually enhances the bioavailability of curcumin.
To enhance the bio-availability of curcumin it is recommended that 3% pepperine (from black pepper) be taken in conjunction with turmeric.
Turmeric yields 4% curcumin (this is the active ingredient) so 1 teaspoon of 3g provides you with 120mg curcumin, not bad if you’re adding to your diet in a preventative capacity - many studies purport positive outcomes with 50mg curcumin supplementation for cancer prevention. To put that into perspective a high dose curcumin supplement contains around 500mg curcumin.
CAUTIONS: If you are pregnant or breast feeding, have diabetes, gall bladder problems, GERD, have bleeding problems or hormone sensitivity issues please check with your practitioner before taking turmeric or curcumin in medicinal doses.
OK so now to add it to the diet:
Golden Turmeric milk - my commitment to you is solid. Proof of that is in the number of trial golden milks I have endured for your benefit, not all of them were what you’d call delicious. Benefits abound in this trial process of course so I’m not complaining. Turmeric is quite bitter so the addition of sweet spices is a great idea. You could also try vanilla, liquorice or aniseed. Golden milk has a truly earthy goodness about it that warms your soul and hugs your insides.
¼ cup turmeric powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup water
1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil of choice)
Combine turmeric and pepper in a small saucepan and stir in the water, bring to a simmer and add coconut oil. Simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring until a paste like consistency is reached, adding more water as required. Transfer to a jar and store for up to 2 weeks in the fridge. Alternatively, measure out teaspoonfuls and freeze on a tray. Once frozen, pop into an airtight container.
My favourite golden milk
1 teaspoon turmeric paste
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 cup milk of choice (this bit’s important!) I prefer it with almond or full cream cow’s milk myself and find that with soy milk (no added sugar) maple syrup is needed. But give it a go for yourself. I’d love your feedback.
Combine the spices in a small saucepan and mix well to form a paste. Add a little milk if desired to loosen. Add remaining milk and simmer for a few minutes. Once warm, pour into a cup and drink. Pure anti-inflammatory health.
Thanks to Jo from Jo’s Herbadashery in Manly who shared the original Health Masters Live recipe with me.
Add turmeric paste or powder to your legumes, grains (and seeds such as buckwheat and quinoa) when cooking. 1 teaspoon per cup water. It is naturally anti-flatulent and has been used for centuries in Vegetarian cooking to alleviate unwanted side effects from improperly cooked grains and legumes.
Add to egg dishes - Turmeric omelette- ½ teaspoon paste to 2 eggs, 1 onion, 1 clove garlic, handful spinach and don’t forget the pepper. Cook in olive, or coconut oil, ghee or butter.
Add a thumb sized piece into freshly made vegetable and fruit juices and juithies (that’s a smoothie made from veggies and fruit with the fibre left in).
Add turmeric paste or powder to tagines, stews, casseroles, soups, breads, scones etc.
Rub into chicken or fish before frying or BBQing with garlic and olive or coconut oil.
One more word of WARNING. Turmeric does stain (even the powder) …everything from your washing up cloth, to your t.towels, bench tops, cooking utensils and hands, but rest assured with time it comes out of bench tops, cooking utensils and hands, not so much cloth.
Wishing you much love and laughter in your kitchen.