Saturday, October 6, 2012


Turmeric is part of the ginger family and is native to tropical South Asia.  The plants are gathered annually for their rhizomes, which are boiled for several hours and then dried in hot ovens.  After they are dry they are ground into a deep orange-yellow powder which is commonly used as a spice in curries and other South Asian and Middle Eastern dishes.

Its active ingredient is curcumin and it has a distinct earthy, slightly bitter, slightly peppery flavour, and smells of mustard.  And interesting fact is that curcumin can be used to test the alkalinity or acidity of foods.  If the food is acid it turns yellow and if the food is alkaline it turns red.

Health Benefits of Turmeric

Turmeric has been used in India for over 2500 years and is a major part of the Ayurvedic system of medicine.  It was first used as a dye and then later for it's medicinal properties.  Long known for it's anti-inflammatory properties and now proving beneficial in the treatment of many different health conditions, here are just a few of the health benefits of adding Turmeric to your diet :
  • When combined with cauliflower it has been shown to prevent prostate cancer and stop the growth of existing prostate cancer.
  • Prevented breast cancer from spreading to the lungs in mice.
  • May prevent melanoma and cause existing melanoma cells to be destroyed
  • Reduces the risk of childhood leukemia
  • Is a natural liver detoxifier
  • May prevent and slow the progression of Alzheimer's disease
  • Works as well as many anti-inflammatory drugs but without the side effects
  • Is a natural painkiller
  • May aid in fat metabolism and help in weight loss
  • Has long been used in Chinese medicine as a treatment for depression
  • Is a natural treatment for arthritis
  • Speeds up wound healing
If curries don't particularly appeal to you, there are turmeric supplements available that will give you the same benefits.

Warning :  Turmeric should not be used by people with gallstones or bile obstruction, and pregnant women should consult their doctor before using it as it can be a uterine stimulant.

Uses for Turmeric

Turmeric is commonly used in Indian and Babgladeshi clothing, such as saris and Buddhist monks' robes.  However I would not recommend you try this unless you are prepared to wash the item by hand as this is has a tendency to bleed colour.

It can also be used as a mask.  Try this traditional recipe from India that has been used to fight acne and promote overall healthy skin.

  • Mix 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder into 3 tablespoons of organic plain yogurt.
  • Rub this mixture all over your face and neck.
  • Leave it on for a few minutes, then wash it off with warm water.

There are also various creams that will give you the benefits of turmeric as well.

Using turmeric in cooking is the most common way to use this spice.  Here is a great warming recipe for a cool fall day.  This is a soup recipe that will make a very filling meal for 4 people.

Burmese Chicken Coconut Soup

Ingredients :

-  2 onions
-  1 inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and chopped
-  2 cloves of garlic, chopped
-  1/4 cup of water

-  1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
-  coconut oil for browning
-  1/2 teaspoon turmeric
-  2 teaspoons paprika
-  1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
-  3 cups chicken broth
-  1 cup canned coconut milk
-  1 lemon, cut into wedges
-  4 green onions, sliced
-  2 hard boiled eggs
-  1/2 cup chopped cilantro
-  sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

-  2 packages Miracle noodles, or egg noodles cut very thin

Directions :
  • Chop half of one onion, then place in a blender with the ginger, garlic and 1/4 cup of water and puree until smooth.
  • Season the chicken thigh meat with salt and pepper, then brown in a bit of coconut oil. Remove and place into your slow cooker. Add the ginger puree and stir.
  • Slice the remaining 1 1/2 onions into thin slices.  Add these to your skillet and cook until softened.  Stir in the turmeric, paprika and cayenne pepper. Add to the slow cooker.
  • Add the chicken broth, cover, and cook on low for 4 hours.
  • Add the coconut milk and cook for another 30 minutes.
  • Wash the miracle noodles or make the egg noodles, and divide into 4 bowls.
  • Ladle the soup over the noodles.  Garnish each serving with chopped cilantro, chopped green onions, half a hard boiled egg, sliced, and serve lemon wedges on the side.

This soup is traditionally made with noodles but it is also delicious with cauliflower rice.

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