Photo: Saute Magazine
Turmeric: A New Take on the Traditional Indian Spice
urmeric, the vibrant golden spice, otherwise known as Haldi, has been celebrated in Indian culture for centuries. Derived from the Curcuma longa plant, the spice is used as a food and medicine in many parts of the world. In recent years, its popularity has leaped off the charts and into the hearts of many. Celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow have popularized the health-enhancing ingredient in the form of the Turmeric Latte, along with a slew of hot teas, remedies and tonics. But whether you’re hoping to add the golden spice to your palate with a latte in the morning, a dinnertime feast, or a calming tea in the evening, we’ve got you covered. There are plenty of ways to incorporate the versatile ingredient into your diet today.
From Past to Present
Before turmeric was recognized as a spice, it was used as a healing remedy. In Ayurveda, an ancient Indian health system of natural healing, the spice was popularized in 500 BC. In fact, Ayurvedic literature contains over 100 different terms for the word, including jayanti, meaning “one who is victorious over diseases,” and matrimanika, meaning “as beautiful as moonlight.” It is also used in several different marriage ceremonies, signifying health and prosperity. It is believed that the golden spice wards off evil and purifies the heart and soul. It is also known for its ability to curb pre-wedding jitters through it’s anti-anxiety and calming effect.
It is an essential ingredient in many traditional Indian dishes, such as Masala Fish Fry, Tandoori Chicken and my personal favorite, Chicken Tikka Masala — steamed rice, chunks of roasted marinated chicken, topped with a spiced curry sauce. Today, it is still used in many curry dishes, which is an umbrella term used to describe Indian cuisine, enriched with spices and herbs. It’s no surprise that turmeric is one of the main ingredients in Curry powder, along with coriander and cumin. If you’re dying to try, check out this ultra-healthy Turmeric-Coconut Curry with Pork recipe.
If Indian cuisine isn’t for you, or you’d like to find easier ways to incorporate the golden ingredient into your diet, the latest culinary creations using the golden spice may suit you well. The Turmeric Latte, also masquerading as a Golden Latte, Golden Milk and Haldi Doodh (the Indian term for milk infused with turmeric) is more popular now than ever before. Not only is the Golden Latte easy to find at your local coffee shop, but it’s also typically packed with healthy and nutritious ingredients. Not to mention, it’s easier than you think to make. Try it for yourself with this simple recipe:
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon turmeric (fresh, peeled and chopped)
- 1 teaspoon ginger (fresh, peeled and chopped)
- 1 teaspoon of real honey (or maple syrup)
- 1 teaspoon of unrefined coconut oil
- Pinch of black pepper
Put all the ingredients into a blender. Blend until all the ingredients are dissolved, and the mixture is creamy. Pour over ice or heat on the stovetop and enjoy!
Buying + Storing
Dried turmeric is less pungent than fresh turmeric, but it still adds an earthy flavor to your dish. It is made from crushed and ground rhizomes (roots), sold as a powder. It can be found in the spice section of any grocery store. After purchasing, make sure to store it in a cold and dark place, and try to use it within a year.
Fresh turmeric has a more potent, peppery and bitter flavor too. It looks similar to its cousin, ginger, but it has an orange color on the inside. When selecting fresh turmeric, get firm and unblemished rhizomes. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. If you want to make use of it over a more extended period, you can freeze it for a few months.
Tip: 1-inch fresh turmeric (about 1 tablespoon grated) = 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
What’s with all the hype? It’s true that with health being a priority for so many of us today, there is a lot of conflation between fact and fiction. But when it comes to turmeric, the majority of claims live up to the hype.
Turmeric’s health benefits can be attributed to the ingredient curcumin. Curcumin has documented anti-inflammatory properties, which have been compared to ibuprofen—and bonus, it’s natural! It doesn’t have any of the toxic effects of medication. Studies have shown that it’s anti-inflammatory properties help those with arthritis or athletes who are habitually sore or suffering from an inflammation injury, such as tendonitis. Also, curcumin helps your heart stay healthy, lowering cholesterol and preventing heart disease.
Curcumin also increases your antioxidant capacity, which aids your immune system and brain function. Help your body absorb curcumin and boost your immune system by consuming turmeric with black pepper. Regarding brain function, curcumin helps supports healthy levels of BDNF (a growth hormone), aids long-term cognitive function, and naturally reduces stress. Not only is it an anti-anxiety remedy, but it’s also a documented mood-enhancer. It is great for staving off neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s. It prevents cancer and fights cancerous cells too.
Buy It Now
With all of these health benefits in mind, turmeric earns its place as a super-ingredient in my book. But let’s face it, sometimes time doesn’t allow us to be our best self. The golden spice is the perfect ingredient for traditional Indian cuisine, tonics and remedies, marinades and dressings. But if you just can’t find the time or motivation to experiment with this super-ingredient, you don’t have to. We’re making it easy for you, with a list of our favorite bottled turmeric drinks below.
“Golden Milk is a vanilla almond milk spiced with turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, and dates, making for a sweet and spicy combination. Part of the ginger family, turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory – and the subject of much recent buzz in the health and wellness communities.” – Pressed Juicery
It’s 6 percent calcium, 4 percent iron and 100 percent juice! Pressed Juicery’s Golden Milk has tons of healthy ingredients inside. Almond milk is rich in Vitamin E, which protects the body against free radicals—compounds formed when our bodies convert food into energy. Meanwhile, dates help to settle an upset tummy and strengthen your bones over time. Pressed Juicery says it’s perfect for those looking to incorporate more fiber into their diet, protect cells in the joints heart and brain and enjoy the taste of turmeric juices. Who knew it could taste so good, blended with all of these fantastic ingredients?
Nekter’s new Turmeric Citrus Lemonade combines sweet and tart flavor into one glorious drink. With orange, grapefruit, lemon, agave nectar, turmeric and black pepper, this drink definitely errs on the fruitier side of beverages. It’s certainly satisfying for my sweet tooth. Oh, and did we mention it contains camu camu too? For those of you who don’t know, camu camu is a shrub with cherry-like berries, and an excellent source of Vitamin C and amino acids. Can’t get enough? Stop by a local store to try Nekter’s Turmeric Sunrise Smoothie. Its key ingredients? Pineapple, mango, a dash of lime, and of course, turmeric.
Your options are unlimited when it comes to Juice It Up’s Wellness line. Whether you prefer their Ginger, Beet or Greens shot, every shot includes a dash of turmeric, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Opt for the Ginger Shot for a blend of spicy and sweet flavor, or try the Beet Shot for a sweeter rendition. Want to add a dose of healthy greens to your diet? Try the Greens Shot, which includes kale and spinach, in addition to ginger, apple, Meyer lemon and various spices. They may be small in size at 2 fl oz, but with only 30-35 calories and loads of nutrition in every shot, they’re definitely worth the purchase.
Shots not your thing? Juice It Up! has a whole line of additional wellness products, and their team is continually coming up with new concoctions. Their latest drink, the Turmeric Blended Juice — and we couldn’t be more excited! “Turmeric, often referred to as ‘liquid gold,’ has been used for its medicinal, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties for thousands of years,” said Noah Burgess, Juice It Up!’s Research and Development Scientist. “With a focus on functional products, we’ve been incorporating turmeric into menu items for quite some time including one of our most popular items, The Turmeric Blended Juice: an all-in raw blend of tangy pineapple, crisp apple, carrot, zesty ginger, banana and turmeric. We whole blend raw fresh fruits and vegetables in The Turmeric Blended Juice to retain 100 percent of the nutrients found in each ingredient, which also allows to satisfy hunger longer while sustaining energy and supporting digestive health. Just about all of our menu items may be customized by adding turmeric for an antioxidant-rich boost that supports the active and healthy lifestyles of our guests.”
Citrus tang meets Golden Meringue in Rebbl’s Turmeric Lemon Tart elixir. With ingredients sourced from the Fujian Province of China, you can be sure that Rebbl uses the freshest ingredients available, resulting in high quality and long-lasting flavor. Made with organic coconut-milk, rainforest honey, acacia fiber, turmeric root, and a handful of well-balanced sweet and bitter ingredients, this drink checks all our boxes when it comes to nutrition and taste.
Bonus: You can consume this drink chilled or heat it up!
Wellness shots are so easy to use, and oh, so delicious too. Jamba Juice’s Tame the Flame Shot’s brilliant golden hue comes from its tasty mix of orange, lemon and turmeric. With anti-inflammatory properties and plenty of Vitamin C, it’s perfect for those with a high level of activity. It restores sore muscles and supports muscle tissue. It’s only 20 calories, but it’s a significant boost for your immune system. Whether you’re an athlete in need of a pick-me-up before game time, or a family in need of some extra support before a long hike, Tame the Flame is here to help.