It offers amazing flavor, naturally bright color and a slew of health benefits! We could all use a little more turmeric.
Related to ginger, this tangerine-colored root is the fresh form of turmeric. It’s often dried and ground into a yellow-orange powder, best known for its role as the main ingredient in curry powder. It’s also a common ingredient in mustard and other foods with a bright yellow hue. Use of this ancient spice for cooking and medicinal purposes dates back to 600 B.C. Nowadays folks take it to treat arthritis and digestive conditions. The amounts used in foods are considered safe, but some high-dose supplements can be dangerous for pregnant women or for those taking blood-thinning medications.
Ground turmeric can be found in just about any grocery store or online spice retailer. One tablespoon has 24 calories, and 1 gram each of fat, fiber and protein, plus an impressive 15 percent of the daily requirement for iron. Turmeric also contains a compound called curcumin, which is believed to have potent antioxidant properties that protect cells and fight inflammation.
What to Do with Turmeric
The bitter and distinct flavor is more versatile than you might think. Add fresh turmeric to smoothies and juices, soups or marinades, or to infuse flavor into rice. You can do even more with the dried spice: Make your own custom curry powder blend, sprinkle over veggies before roasting or whisk into marinades and salad dressings.
Store fresh turmeric like ginger: in the refrigerator unpeeled for up to 3 weeks or in the freezer (peeled and sliced or grated) for up to 6 months. Dried turmeric powder should be kept in a cool, dry and dark place for no more than 6 months, or the flavor will suffer.
Recipes to Try
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.