Turmeric, the bold golden-hued spice, isn’t just a kitchen staple. With roots tracing back thousands of years in Indian and Southeast Asian cultures, turmeric has also been idolized for its potent health benefits. In fact, recent studies suggest it may influence the aging process, potentially increasing your lifespan.
In this spicy guide, we’re revealing the powerful benefits of turmeric and how to cook with it. Plus, keep reading until the end for five family-friendly turmeric recipes that harness its potency.
The Benefits of Cooking With Turmeric
As a root relative to ginger, turmeric originates from Southeast Asia (primarily India), where it’s been a culinary and medicinal staple for over 4,000 years. Its vibrant roots have been intertwined with traditional Ayurvedic practices in curries, teas, and healing elixirs, trusted by many ancestors–and for very good reason. Here are some of the mind-blowing turmeric health benefits:
Turmeric may be a natural antidepressant
Turmeric is pretty amazing when it comes to mood-boosting. Its primary bioactive substance, curcumin, has actually been shown to modulate feel-good neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine which act as a natural antidepressant. Yelena Wheeler, a registered dietitian nutritionist and health writer for the National Coalition on Health Care, also adds, “Turmeric has antioxidant properties which scavenge free radicals. Therefore, reducing them from causing inflammation, which has been linked to depression.”
Turmeric might help reduce body inflammation
This golden spice also has a fantastic knack for calming down inflammation in our bodies. Once again, its special compound, curcumin, taps in and reduces inflammation throughout the body with its antioxidant activity. “Curcumin reduces free radicals that are responsible for oxidative stress by combatting inflammatory mediators in the body,” says Sheri Berger, RDN, CDCES, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant for Health Insiders.
Turmeric has been shown to reduce pain
Wheeler says that turmeric also has the ability to reduce the body’s response to pain. One noteworthy study found that taking turmeric extract three times a day was just as effective as taking a 1,200-milligram dose of ibuprofen daily. On top of that, another study found that the curcumin in turmeric can help ease specific issues like abdominal and arthritis pain.
How to Cook With Turmeric
At its core, turmeric is a root veggie with a knobbly, brownish exterior. But once you slice it open, you’ll notice a vibrant, orange inside bursting with color. If you’re purchasing a knob from the grocery store, they aren’t very big. Usually only a few inches long. Although, they can be pretty dense.
Honestly, cooking with turmeric can be a little intimidating. Just a pinch of it can go a long way. But if you use turmeric just right, this spice can bring a warm, slightly earthy flavor to the table, adding a subtle peppery kick to your dishes.
- Cooking with fresh grated turmeric. There’s really nothing like fresh turmeric. When cooking with a whole knob, peel the skin before grating, as it can be very tough. But fair warning: that gorgeous orange color can also stain, so wash up quickly when you’re finished with it. You might even want to wear gloves. Freshly grated turmeric is fantastic in many things, like smoothies, juices, stir-fries, soups, salads, and baked goods.
- Cooking with dried ground turmeric. A teaspoon or two of dried ground turmeric is often the norm, but it really depends on personal taste and the dish you’re creating. As a fine, dried spice, turmeric gives a warm, earthy flavor to savory dishes like curries, stews, and rice. Its golden hue also makes everything from sauces to soups look as yummy as they taste. In fact, you can even use dried turmeric as a natural food coloring.
Substitution Tip: If your recipe calls for fresh turmeric, and you don’t have it available, substitute one teaspoon of dried turmeric for every tablespoon of fresh grated turmeric.
5 Turmeric Recipes You Need to Try
Now it’s time to get cooking. Here are five must-try easy turmeric dishes to incorporate this potent golden spice into your daily meals.
1. Golden Milk
Creative turmeric ideas like this do exist. Think of golden milk as a cozy, comforting warm drink that fills your soul and heals your body. Known for its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties, this elixir not only warms you up but offers turmeric’s major health benefits. This simple recipe only calls for five ingredients–that you probably already have at home–and can be made on the stovetop in 10 minutes. You might also notice that this recipe calls for black pepper. It’s essential not to skip this ingredient. “Black pepper with turmeric is essential for increasing absorption of curcumin,” says Berger. This way, you’ll get the maximum amount of nourishment. Use this golden milk as a nice warm treat, perfect for relaxing and unwinding after a long day.
See the full recipe on DOWNSHIFTOLOGY
2. Turmeric & Lentil Soup
This turmeric-infused lentil soup is the epitome of grounding, nourishment, and comfort in a bowl. The almond milk-simmered lentils and carrots create a luxurious, velvety texture. And with turmeric, garlic, mustard seeds, and cumin working their magic together, each spoonful explodes with layers of rich, deep flavor. Plus, this health-packed soup makes for easy heat-up leftovers!
See the full recipe on Deliciously Ella
3. Creamy Turmeric Chicken Skillet
This one-skillet chicken dinner provides a burst of flavor with its vibrant turmeric, bringing both color and a sprinkle of earthy goodness to your taste buds. The drool-worthy turmeric sauce infuses every bite of chicken with a creamy, aromatic flavor. We don’t blame you if you’ve never thought about it before, but marrying the boldness of turmeric with the richness of the chicken makes a truly satisfying meal. One reviewer even says, “I made this for my husband because of the fresh turmeric which is great for inflammation. This will become a regular in our menu rotation!”
See the full recipe on The Kitchn
Kitchari is a traditional cleansing Ayurvedic meal that harmoniously blends rice, lentils, and spices like turmeric, cumin, and ginger together. This wholesome one-pot meal is loved for its simplicity and nourishing qualities. It’s often enjoyed during periods of cleansing or as a gentle, easily digestible meal option. Its balanced flavors and nourishing nature make it a go-to for those seeking a grounding, comforting meal that’s both flavorful and soothing. This recipe is also gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, vegan, and paleo-friendly.
See the full recipe on Ela Vegan
5. Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls
Lemon turmeric energy balls are a beautiful blend of soft citrus and goodness. These immune-boosting, sugar-free gems are loaded with plant-based proteins and fiber. Packed with the vibrant flavors of healing turmeric and nutritious chia seeds, they’re a true superfood snack that will keep you energized and can be easily eaten on the go. Our favorite part is that they only take 10 minutes to make–turmeric for moms made easy!
See the full recipe on Natalie’s Health