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Turmeric: What it is and Why You Should be Using It

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Have you had your daily dose of turmeric yet today? When I learned to cook, I learned about a lot of new foods, herbs, and spices. Turmeric was new to me and it has since become one spice I don’t let myself run out of. You may know turmeric best as the ingredient that turns your tofu scramble or your curry into a bright yellow color, but turmeric is so much more than a natural food coloring. This ancient spice has been used in cooking and Ayurvedic and Chinese medicinal rituals for ages. Read on to find out more about this super-spice and why you should be using turmeric every chance you get.

1. What is Turmeric?

Nourishing Ayurvedic Kitchari [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Turmeric is an ancient spice native to South East Asia. It is used for many purposes including as a dye in Hindu rituals, a medicinal herb, and as a cooking spice. A member of the ginger family, turmeric comes from the root of the Curcuma longa plant. In its whole form, turmeric looks like ginger with tough brown skin and deep orange flesh.

Turmeric has a warm, peppery, slightly bitter flavor, an earthy, aromatic scent, and a bright yellow color that is similar to saffron. In fact, turmeric has been called “Indian saffron” for that reason. It’s found in many spice blends including curry powder and is usually found in mustard.

2. Selection and Storage

Samosa Soup With Mint Chutney

When buying turmeric in its whole form, select roots that are firm and avoid soft, shriveled roots. Store your fresh turmeric in an airtight container or plastic bag in the fridge or freezer so it can last longer. In this whole form, turmeric can be sliced, minced, or grated just as you would ginger.

Dried ground turmeric is less pungent than fresh and it has the advantage of you not having to directly touch it as it can stain. It should be available in most major markets and specialty spice stores. Like most dried spices, store ground turmeric in an airtight container and keep in a cool, dark place. Dried spices are good for up to a year before they lose their flavor.

3. Health Benefits

Turmeric Falafel

As mentioned, turmeric is super-healthy and has long been used for medicinal purposes in many cultures. It contains curcumin which has been found to be comparable in efficacy to over-the-counter and prescription anti-inflammatory agents without the toxic side effects. That makes turmeric a good supplement for people suffering from arthritis and joint problems. Turmeric also contains a good amount of antioxidants, manganese, iron, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and magnesium.

Other health benefits of turmeric include relief from joint pain and swelling, improved digestion, and improved skin health. Studies have also found turmeric to help treat inflammatory bowel disease and prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. The spice has also been found to prevent colds and flualleviate pain, and work as an antiseptic to help heal cuts and wounds. Turmeric can even kill yeast and parasites when ingested. Even a small amount eaten in dishes is beneficial so we should try to use a bit of turmeric every day. Let’s see how to do that.

4. Eggless “Egg” Dishes

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When we make eggless versions of egg dishes, we want them to have that familiar bright yellow color and that’s where turmeric comes in. Just a sprinkle of this spice can make our scrambles, omelets, frittatas, and quiches bright and inviting. If you need tips on how to make eggless “egg” dishes, check out How to Make Eggless Omelets, Frittatas, Quiches, and Crepes and Tips for Making Killer Tofu Scrambles.

Then brighten up your meals with this Baked Spinach and Herb Frittata, Chickpea Omelets with Mushrooms, Greens, and Vegan Swiss, Easy Spinach and Pepper Quiche, Curried Tofu Scramble, and this Eggless Egg Sandwich. These Genius Vegan Eggs and Perfect Vegan Fried Eggs also get their color from turmeric. Turmeric also helps give color to Vegan Challah and Challah French Toast. For more recipes, see 15 Delicious Egg Recipes That are Better Without Eggs.

5. Indian Food

One-Pot Spicy Rice and Lentil 1

Turmeric is a common ingredient in Indian cuisine, especially in curry powder spice blends and curry pastes. Learn How to Make Your Own Spice Blends and Curry Pastes. If you love curry dishes, you’ll want to make this Bitter Melon Tomato Curry, Baby Jackfruit Curry, Easy Vegetable Curry, and this Super Simple Potato Curry.

Curry isn’t the only Indian dish that uses turmeric. Try this Indian One Pot Spicy Rice and Lentils, Spiced Coconut Dal, Samosa Soup with Mint Chutney, and Nourishing Ayurvedic Kitchari.

6. Around the World

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Indian food is delicious but there are other ethnic dishes that are made better with turmeric. Turmeric is a common spice in African, Moroccan, and Southeast Asian cuisine. It’s also a more economical ingredient for Spanish food if you can’t afford saffron. This Nigerian Yam and “Egg” and Cape Malay Curry with Turmeric Cinnamon Rice are two amazing African dishes. Travel to Morocco with this Moroccan Tofu with Vegetables in a Creamy Spiced Sauce and this Seitan Tagine with Apricots and Dates.

Skip the Thai takeout and make this One Pot Red Curry Noodle Soup, Spice Curry Laksa, and Thai Yellow Curry with Seitan and Potatoes. Italy calls with this Cauliflower Cacciatore while China serves up this Sweet and Sour Cauliflower. This Turmeric Falafel takes our taste buds to the Middle East and then it’s off to Spain to enjoy this Spanish Potato and Chorizo Omelet-Style Quiche. There is no cuisine that couldn’t benefit from a sprinkle or two of turmeric.

7. Say Cheese

Life-Changing Vegan Cheese Sauce [Gluten-Free]

Is there anything better than a dish that’s rich, creamy, and cheesy? Only if those dishes are made with dairy-free cheese! Whether you make your vegan cheese out of soy, nuts, seeds, or potatoes, you’ll want to toss in a little turmeric for color and nutrients. Check out these 20 Amazing Vegan Cheeses You Can Make at Home and all the Different Ways to Make Dairy-Free Cheese Sauce Using Vegetables. This Pimento Cheese, Creamy Chia Cheddar Sauce, and Life-Changing Cheese Sauce all owe their color to turmeric.

An indulgence such as mac and cheese gets instantly healthier when you add turmeric. Then you can feel good about eating a whole bowl of this Potato and Zucchini Mac and Cheese, Cheeseburger Mac and Cheese, or Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese with Spinach.

8. Grains and Veggies

Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower and Kale Salad

Turmeric adds color, flavor, and nutrients to grains, potato, and veggie dishes. Instead of saffron, I use ground turmeric when I make Spanish rice as in my Chile-Rubbed Tofu and Onions Over Spanish Rice or yellow rice for my Moroccan Delicious Casbah Tofu with Yellow Rice. Look how delicious this Creamy Mushrooms and Spinach with Turmeric Quinoa looks and wait until you taste this Raw Veggie Paella and Scrambled Tofu Fried Rice.

Like grains, potatoes, and other vegetables soak up the stunning color of turmeric. You’ll love this dish of Creamy Chickpeas with Turmeric, Black Cumin, and Parsley, Freekah and Turmeric Chickpea Salad, Cauliflower ‘Pilau’ Rice, Carrot and Turmeric Soup, and this Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower and Kale Salad.

9. Breakfast to Dessert

Spicy Tofu Scramble and Avocado Breakfast Burrito

You can reap the benefits of turmeric from the moment you wake up until the last thing you eat. Start your day with these Anti-Inflammatory Overnight Oats, this Spicy Tofu Scramble and Avocado Breakfast Burrito, Not Smoked Salmon Scramble, Chickpea Flour Pancakes, and this Turmeric Plum Porridge.

When it’s time for dessert, add a bit of antioxidant power to your sweets. Try this Carrot Halwa with Mint, No-Bake Lemon Squares, Golden Rice Pudding with Turmeric, Ginger and Pink Peppercorns, and Persimmon and Turmeric Cheesecake Slice. When you need a pick-me-up at any time of the day, fuel up with these Sugar-Free Turmeric Power Bars.

10. Liquid Gold

Liquid Gold Turmeric Latte [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Who says you have to add turmeric only to food? Not us. You can also drink your daily dose of turmeric. If you like a nice hot cup of tea to help you relax, turn that cup of tea into a superfood by adding some ground turmeric. Learn How to Make Turmeric Tea in this informative video and then try this Turmeric Tea and these little golden cubes to help you make (Almost Instant) Turmeric Ginger Tea. This Energizing Turmeric Tea also has matcha for double the superfood effect. If you prefer lattes, you’ll love this Tasty Turmeric Latte and this Liquid Gold Turmeric Latte.

It’s summer so cool off with this Turmeric Glow Lemonade that will refresh you and quench your thirst. Add a pinch of turmeric to your smoothies and juices to give them all the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory nutrients possible. Try this Sunshine Smoothie and this Healing Turmeric Smoothie for starters and then add the turmeric to your favorite recipes.

If you haven’t already been adding a bit of turmeric to your recipes, now is the time to start. Not only will your dishes (and drinks) get added color and flavor but you’ll be nourishing your body with one of the healthiest spices around!

Lead Image Source: Energizing Turmeric Tea

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9 comments on “Turmeric: What it is and Why You Should be Using It”

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Shauna Martinez
2 Years Ago

I take a turmeric capsule before bed every night and cook with it. Eggs, rice, tossed with veggies I roast...it's a miracle spice.


Reply
Gia R. Lazar
2 Years Ago

I don't really like the taste of it in food, so I prefer a nice turmeric tea at night or in my lemonade.


Reply
Dallas Piaget
2 Years Ago

This article misses an important point - there are different varieties of turmeric. I live in Indonesia and there are at least 4 varieties I\'m aware of and each is used for different purposes; flavoring, nutritional and medicinal.


Reply
Silver DeWitt
2 Years Ago

I add a little to anything I am cooking. I love to make turmeric rice. I occasionally add it to my oatmeal in the autumn and winter.


Reply
Christi Burns
2 Years Ago

I add it to my rice and potatoes as they boil. It makes them a beautiful yellow color <3


Reply
jayakrishnan
12 Jul 2016

We south indians have been using this extensively in our cooking for ages. Personally we use about 1/2 kg of this every month, we are 4 people. Try lemon rice.

One Green Planet
12 Jul 2016

That's a great tip!

Princess Moon
2 Years Ago

Taylor Isaac Richard


Reply
Aquanetta Johnson
2 Years Ago

started using it everyday about a month ago


Reply


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