Why Turmeric Is A Super Spice In Your Kitchen

by Meredith Grace
I’ll never forget the first time my friend suggested I should try a cup of turmeric tea. I must have given her a look of complete disbelief.
 
“Turmeric? You mean the potent yellow spice mostly in bright curry dishes? You’ve got to be kidding me.”
 
At the time, I was on my third cold of the winter and we were barely through the holidays, so I was desperate. Sure enough, one cup of that golden elixir and I was hooked.
 
Z Living's show Recipe Rehab is always showing us new ways to boost the healthiness factor of our favorite foods. This week, chef Vikki Krinsky demonstrated that sometimes the best place to go for wholesome nutrition is your spice rack.

 

 
And turmeric is no exception. The primary beneficial component of turmeric is called curcumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, connected to preventing devastating diseases like Alzheimer’s and certain cancers. Curcumin also is an antioxidant, meaning it neutralizes free radicals in our bodies. Take one cursory web search at the benefits of curcumin and it’s easy to see why it’s being hailed as a super spice.
 
While chef Vikki used the tasty yellow spice in her meatless shepherd’s pie filling, there are countless creative ways to include an extra dose of turmeric in your diet.
 

Tea time

Just like the tea I tried at the suggestion of my good friend, wrapping your hands around a mug of this milky beverage is far less frightening than it sounds. The key to turmeric tea is including healthy fats in the combination. Certain components of herbs like turmeric are water-soluble, while other are fat-soluble, so you need both water and fat to get the full good-for-you effect.
 
Here is my favorite recipe for turmeric tea, perfect if you’re just starting down the turmeric trail.
 
 

Rub it in

If you’re cooking up a meat dish, dried turmeric powder adds a great kick to your go-to spice rub. Steaks, chicken, pork, and turkey are a great canvas to play with the flavors of different spice combinations. For starters, combine 1 tsp turmeric, paprika, dried thyme, cumin, ½ tsp salt, and a pinch of ground black pepper. This spice blend is also delicious sprinkled over veggies tossed in olive oil before roasting in the oven.
 
Check out these healthy substitutes for ground beef.


turmericDress it up

Add dried turmeric to your favorite salad dressing. The flavor of turmeric lends itself well to the oil and vinegar combination of most vinaigrettes and adds a gorgeous yellow color to the mixture. Bonus: the fat in the oil helps your body absorb more of the medicinal qualities of the spice.

 

Smooth(ie) Operator

If you’re a smoothie junkie like me (or at least like I try to be!), you might be surprised how easy it is to slip a little turmeric into your usual smoothie recipes. The spicy quality of turmeric pair really well with the flavors of mango, pineapple, and orange. Try adding a combination of turmeric and avocado for a creamy touch that really brings out the spice’s complex flavor profile.
 
Love smoothies? Watch our Coconut Turmeric Smoothie Recipe video for breakfast inspiration.
 

Go whole

Most organic food stores will carry whole turmeric root, either of the white or yellow variety. Just like ginger, this knobby little root can be peeled and grated for use in almost any recipe. Sprinkle the grated or chopped root with sauteed veggies, add it to your meatloaf or burger recipe, or mix the grated turmeric into your mashed potatoes for a vibrant twist on classic dishes.
 
WATCH on Z Living: Recipe Rehab, where each week two chefs face off in a competition to give one family's high-calorie recipe a new low-calorie twist.
 
 

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