Turmeric may sound like an exotic spice, but it may in fact have been one of the earliest foods you ate–even if you were that kid who refused to eat anything but hot dogs, ketchup and mustard. Well, actually specifically if you were that little mustard-stained kid: turmeric is what is used to give yellow mustard its vibrant yellow color!
What is this crazy yellow spice?
Beyond its ability to dye our food pretty colors, turmeric has been used in India for thousands of years as an anti-inflammatory and healing spice. It’s now being studied and recognized in the West for its powerful medicinal properties. Studies have shown that turmeric–and specifically its phytonutrient curcumin–may help fight infections and some cancers, reduce inflammation, and treat digestive problems, making it a great spice to incorporate into everyday meals.
You can find it fresh in the produce section, where it looks a lot like its cousin ginger. More commonly, you’ll find it dried and ground in a spice jar. Both versions are potent so try it both ways to see which you like better.
Sound like a Pro
You may hear TV chefs saying “TOO-mer-rihk,” but now you can smirk to yourself knowing the correct way to say it is “TER-muh-rihk.” A good way to remember? You guys, there’s an “r” after the “u.” And hey, with turmeric’s suspected cancer-fighting properties, there should be no too-mers around!
Mellow the Yellow
Flavorwise, turmeric has a bitter, earthy taste so it’s generally used in smaller quantities, even in traditional Indian recipes like curries. Too much and you’ll wonder who put tangy dirt into your dinner. Just a pinch and you’ll reap the health benefits without even detecting the taste.
A Few Ways to Try Turmeric
Beat 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric with 2 eggs, salt and pepper for extra golden scrambled eggs. The high amount of zinc in eggs, combined with turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties, makes this combo a cold season favorite.
Add just a pinch to any smoothie for an extra healthy elixir. You can check out Home Chef’s menu, which includes a weekly smoothie, here.
Sauté a pinch with onions and garlic if you are making butternut squash soup. The subtle bitterness of turmeric balances out sweet flavors, so it’s a perfect pair for sweet vegetables like carrots, squash and sweet potatoes.
Go total yogi and mix up some turmeric tea. Simmer a couple slices of ginger and turmeric with water and finish with a squeeze of lemon juice and honey. Ahh…don’t you feel healthier just reading that recipe?
Try turmeric in our sweet potato and wheat berry Buddha bowl with tahini turmeric dressing and kale chips!
Put Food on Your Face
Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties can also be put to use topically. Brides in India use a turmeric–or haldi–paste to give their skin a light, bright glow before their weddings. Mix up your own face mask by combining a tablespoon of honey and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric. Leave it on only for a minute or two, especially if you have light skin. Turmeric can stain skin and clothes yellow, so take note if you aren’t going for that oompa loompa glow.