What do you do when you’ve been diagnosed with a food allergy and your favourite foods are taken away? Fear not! Each month FBC member and certified nutritionist, Sondi Bruner, takes a look at how to adapt to an allergen-friendly diet, while still eating delicious and healthy food. This month she shares 14 ways to use Turmeric - a spice we're hearing a lot about these days!
Turmeric is all the rage nowadays, but you can reap the benefits even if you hate curry. In today's post, I want to walk you through this incredible ingredient and the alternative ways to use it you may never have dreamed would be delicious.
What is Turmeric?
Turmeric root belongs to the ginger family and it has a warm, bitter and slightly spicy flavour. Its use originated in South Asia and it has been a key spice for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine. Recently, turmeric has exploded in popularity and become a top food trend; in fact, Google has reported it's one of the top food search terms of the last two years. And FBC talked about it becoming a significant trend back in 2015!
But don't let its trendiness prevent you from trying it! People are jumping on the turmeric bandwagon for a good reason.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
Turmeric has risen to fame for its mighty anti-inflammatory qualities. Scientists have identified more than 100 constituents in turmeric. One of the most powerful compounds is called ‘curcumin’; it's the most active part of turmeric that's responsible for reducing inflammation.
Turmeric can help tamper the inflammation caused by a number of major ailments, including inflammatory bowel disease and other autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, dental problems and cancer. If you're interested in taking turmeric therapeutically, it's best to take it in supplement form for a higher dose.
Researchers are also investigating new methods to make turmeric easier for us to digest and absorb. There are two main ways to boost our body's ability to absorb turmeric: consume it with black pepper or a good source of fat.
For those of you who are looking to add more turmeric into your diet for a whole health anti-inflammatory boost, incorporating it into your food is an easy and simple way to do it. There are a multitude of delicious and exciting ways you can add turmeric into recipes and I'm excited to share some of my ideas with you today!
Dried or Fresh?
As turmeric has become more widely available, fresh turmeric has begun cropping up in grocery stores throughout the country. Two years ago, I'd never seen fresh turmeric before. Now, there are several markets in my neighbourhood that carry it. While I like to experiment with fresh and dried turmeric, I mostly use dried because it's easily accessible and keeps for longer.
Turmeric stains everything so don't be alarmed. Wear aprons or gloves if you're concerned and be careful if you have light coloured countertops and appliances.
My blender jar has a light yellow tinge and I'm totally OK with it. I view my appliances as tools that should be well loved and used, so I believe my turmeric stains are a badge of culinary nutrition honour. However, you might feel differently and if so these turmeric stain removal tips might help you out.
Build Your Tolerance
I'm a bonafide turmeric enthusiast now, but it took time for me to embrace the strong, bitter flavour. Jumping in at the deep end by adding 3 tablespoons of turmeric to your tea may scar you! Instead, work your way up by starting with 1/8 teaspoon and gradually adding more to strengthen your tolerance. That's what I did and now I love adding a full teaspoon to my turmeric lattes and go turmeric happy with a multitude of other recipes, which you'll explore below.
Alternative Ways to Use Turmeric
There's more to turmeric than you might think! Here are some awesomely deliciously ways to incorporate more turmeric into your healthy lifestyle.
1. Add it To Grains
The next time you make rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet or any other gluten-free grain as a side, try adding in a quarter teaspoon of turmeric (or more) as the grain cooks. This will yield a vibrant yellow colour and additional flavour. Turmeric also works well in sweet or savoury oatmeal dishes.
Try This: Vegan Turmeric Coconut Rice
2. Throw It Into Your Next Smoothie
Dairy-free smoothies are wonderful vehicles for all kinds of ingredients we might have trouble eating on their own. Other stronger-flavoured elements in smoothies such as fruit, greens, nut butters and coconut milk will disguise your turmeric so that you don't even notice it (smoothies are also a good way to hide hemp and chia seeds, protein powders and seaweeds like spirulina or chlorella).
Try This: Post-Workout Recovery Smoothie
3. In Dairy-Free Hot Chocolates & Lattes
Give your decadent hot chocolates and homemade lattes an anti-inflammatory boost by adding in some ground turmeric. When I make these types of drinks at home, I love pairing turmeric with cinnamon, as cinnamon overrides most of the bitterness from the turmeric. Tossing in a dollop of fat, like ghee or coconut oil, will help the turmeric's active compounds absorb better.
Try This: Turmeric Vanilla Spice Superfood Latte
4. In Tea
Turmeric makes an excellent tea when simmered with aromatic spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves and allspice, and finished with a glob of honey and your favourite non-dairy milk. Although turmeric is the star attraction, don't add too much if you're new to it; start off with 1/8 or 1/4 teaspoon and work your way up.
Try This: Turmeric Tea
5. Incorporate It Into Socca (Chickpea Flatbread) or Other Gluten-Free Flatbreads
There are few things more satisfying or easy than making your own flatbread. My go-to recipe is 1 cup chickpea flour, 1 cup water, 2 tbsp olive oil, and 1/4 tsp salt. Mix, pour into a 9-inch greased or lined pan and bake for 20-25 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve with dip, soup, or curry. Brainless, right? Add a tsp or 2 of turmeric for extra golden colour.
Flatbreads work with other gluten-free flours or grains such as buckwheat, quinoa and even lentils. They make fantastic pizza crusts and I've even used the batter to top veggie pot pie.
Try This: Golden Cauliflower Turmeric Flatbread
6. In Vegan Cheese Recipes
Turmeric's bright orange/yellow colour makes it the perfect spice candidate for giving vegan cheese a cheddar-like look. Cashews are the most popular nut for vegan cheese recipes, whether you're looking for a firm fermented cheese, a spreadable dairy-free cream cheese or a drippy vegan queso.
Try This: Easy Vegan Queso in Minutes
7. In Non-Dairy Milk
Have you heard of golden milk? Before you go there, it's not a sexual thing — it's dairy-free milk infused with turmeric and spices like cinnamon and black pepper. You can drink this hot or iced and it really takes non-dairy milk to the next level.
Try This: Golden Milk
8. In Creamy Sauces or Salad Dressings
Brighten up your creamy, dairy-free sauces with a dash or two of turmeric. To save your blender from turning yellow, blend your sauce first. Then transfer into a bowl and whisk in the turmeric by hand. You can also transform your favourite basic salad dressing by shaking turmeric into the mix.
Try This: Vegan Turmeric Ginger Dressing
9. In Juices, Elixirs and Tonics
With fresh turmeric becoming more readily available, it's easier to make fresh juices and drinks with it. If you can't find it fresh, you can still add the dried version to juice recipes. One popular turmeric beverage is Jamu, an Indonesian concoction made with fresh turmeric, citrus, ginger and a bit of your favourite natural sweetener. Turmeric also works alongside sweet potatoes, oranges, lime and carrots, but you can play around and add it to any juice recipe you love.
10. In Baked Goods and Sweet Treats
Infuse your muffins, cookies, scones, cakes, chocolate and other sweet treats with turmeric powder. If you're making something dark and chocolately, the turmeric powder won't make a difference to the colour at all. For lighter-coloured recipes, add in a small amount or just dive in and embrace the yellow hue with gusto.
11. Try Turmeric as a Natural Food Colouring Option
Looking for a natural, non-toxic food colouring? Look no further than turmeric. Add a pinch of turmeric to your favourite icing recipe for a golden hue, but be careful not to add too much. While adding a generous amount will yield a lovely golden yellow, it will affect the sweet flavour. So you'll just have to stick with a pale, light yellow instead.
12. In Trail Mix, Roasted Nuts or Savory Snacks
The bitter quality of turmeric makes it a perfect candidate for savoury snacks like roasted nuts, roasted chickpeas or trail mix. Just make sure you have napkins on hand to mop up the turmeric powder from your hands.
Try this: Vegan Nacho-Style Popcorn
13. In Hummus, or Other Dips and Spreads
Is there any herb or spice that doesn't go well with hummus? I've yet to find one. Toss some turmeric into your go-to hummus recipe, or try incorporating it into other bean dips, salsa or eggplant spreads.
This This: Turmeric Hummus
14. In Curry
You knew this one was coming, right? While turmeric is already in curry powder spice mixes, I usually like to add an extra teaspoon or two to my curry recipes. Whether you're making a curried soup, stew, or any other curried dish, throw in some more turmeric for additional anti-inflammatory power.
Try This: Classic Red Lentil Vegetable Curry
How do you like to use turmeric in your everyday cooking? Please share in the comments!
Check out more of Sondi’s Allergen-Friendly Guides and Recipe Remixes for great ideas on revamping your favourite recipes to make them allergen friendly!
- An Allergen-Friendly Guide to Dried Fruit
- Allergen-Friendly Remix: A Guide to Using Dried Beans
- An Allergen Friendly Guide to Natural Sweeteners
- Allergen-Friendly Remix: Side Dishes
- Allergen-Friendly Remix: Granola Bars
Sondi Bruner is a holistic nutritionist, freelance writer, food blogger and author of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet in 21, The Candida Free Cookbook and Action Plan, co-author of The Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Action Plans as well as multiple e-books on healthy eating. She educates people who follow allergen-friendly diets about how to eat simply, deliciously and safely, allowing them to rediscover the pleasure of food. When she’s wearing her writer’s hat, she works with natural health brands to create content that will help their customers live fulfilling, healthful lives. Find out more at www.sondibruner.com. Or you can follow Sondi on Facebook or Twitter.