Healing with Tumeric
I picked up some fresh tumeric root at the grocery store and set out to experiment with it. I’m no stranger to using ground tumeric, but this form was new to me. I knew that tumeric held anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities and I was searching for different ways to gear my diet in this direction.
Tumeric contains the polyphenol cucrumin, which has been widely researched for its therapeutic efficacy. One obstacle to achieving the positive anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects lies in its bioavailability. Combining curcumin with piperine, found in black pepper, will greatly increase its bioavailability.
I tried tumeric in a variety of applications: steeping in tea, blended in smoothies, and in cooking. Since I have been working to make anti-inflammatory foods a larger part of my diet, I traded in my morning coffee for green tea. While I miss my morning coffee, I do appreciate the intentionality of my new diet. I look at each food as a building block to better health. This is a far more enjoyable way to look at food rather than taking on diets that focus on eliminating or substituting. I’m not trying to lose weight, although I wouldn’t cry if I dropped a few lbs; I’m trying to fuel my body and heal it from the inside out. So, in my morning and evening tea, I drop about a 1/2″ piece of peeled tumeric root to steep.
Most mornings I enjoy a smoothie and I go on ahead and throw unpeeled tumeric root in there. I put a great variety of ingredients in my smoothies. It’s the best way to get a nutrient-dense start to the day! Keep an eye out for my upcoming post about what’s in my smoothie these days and why.
The first meal that came to mind for using my tumeric root was a tagine. With Magrheb origins, tagine is customarily cooked in a clay pot, which is also called a tagine. I consider it a North African style stew. I chose to make mine with what I had on hand.
For this recipe, I used the following ingredients:
- 1/2 chopped sweet potato
- 2 peeled and chopped carrots
- 1 rough-chopped celery stalk
- 1/2 chopped yellow onion
- 2 partially peeled tumeric roots, left in larger chunks
- 2 sliced cloves of garlic
- 1 lb bonelss, skinless chicken thighs cut into 1″ pieces
- 1 Tbs Vindaloo curry powder
- 1 Tbs coconut oil
- 1 Tbs canned coconut milk, plus extra
- Chicken broth
- Salt and pepper
I started by sautéing the garlic, tumeric, and onion in a small amount of coconut oil until just softened. While they cooked I made a paste with the curry powder (I chose Vindaloo from my pantry), coconut oil, and coconut milk. Next I added the chicken, which I seasoned with salt and pepper before adding it to the tagine. I cooked with the lid off until the chicken began to brown. Then I added the sweet potato, celery, and carrots along with the paste. After about 2 minutes of cooking, I added enough chicken broth and coconut milk to create a sauce less than halfway up the vegetables and chicken. I cooked until the vegetables were cooked to my liking and chicken was cooked through. I like my vegetables al dente so they stand up to reheating for leftovers.
The measurements are an estimate of what I used. I cook in a hurry and with what I have on hand most nights. You could substitute any of the ingredients for just about anything.
Don’t forget to finish with a dollop of Raita! I served mine over cauliflower rice. I left the tumeric root in large chunks so I could pull them out after cooking. I also left them partially peeled so I could tell them apart from the sweet potatoes and carrots! I ended up leaving them in and we ate them along with everything else. They were quite tasty!