Most days, I feel like there is so much on my plate that when something…
Turmeric, Curcuma longa, is a perennial in the ginger family, native to warmer regions of Asia. The part of the turmeric plant most commonly used as food and medicine is the rhizome (shallow, horizontal growing root). Many people are familiar with turmeric and use it dried and powdered as a spice. While dried turmeric is excellent and carries the same health benefits as the fresh root, nothing beats the flavor and vitality present in the fresh and BRIGHT YELLOW/ORANGE ROOT! You might be able to find fresh turmeric at your local coop or natural health food store. Here in Western Massachusetts we are lucky to have Old Friends Farm growing turmeric for our community.
The fresh root is delicious infused into honey, added to soups, sautéed or roasted with veggies, in curries and in salad dressings! This golden milk recipe is based off of a traditional Ayurvedic preparation, adapted to enjoy the flavor and fragrance of turmeric root. Beyond just delicious, turmeric is a healthful medicinal herb – according to Ayurveda, when you combine it with milk of some sort it is more nourishing and helps carry the nutrients deep into the cells. It is also often combined with a spicy carrier to improve the metabolism of active constituents, black pepper is most common – hence the black pepper in your warm, sweet milk drink (I promise it tastes good!).
Turmeric is an incredible medicinal and culinary herb. Like many culinary herbs and spices turmeric supports digestion and absorption of nutrients. It also helps improve the digestion of fats and oils and can offer support for common digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating and indigestion. Turmeric improves liver metabolism, which helps the body process endogenous and exogenous wastes and toxins, cleansing and tonifying the blood. Rich in anti-oxidants, turmeric also protects our cells from the harmful effects of free radicals and oxidative stress. It seems to offer particular cellular support and protection for liver cells, giving it an important place in herbal medicine as a hepatoprotective, hepato means liver. As if all that was not enough, regular consumption of turmeric has been shown to help balance blood cholesterol levels. Last but certainly not least, turmeric has relieved a lot of attention in recent years for its action as an anti-inflammatory. Rich in curcuminoids, including curcumin and cyclocurcumin, which help reduce systemic inflammation, some people receive relief from symptoms of arthritis, allergies and chronic pain by supplementing with turmeric. Beyond the presence of individual constituents, I believe that it is turmeric’s complete and excellent collection of properties (including its ability to support liver function and clean the blood) that all work together to help reduce inflammation on a holistic level. Turmeric is an important ingredient in the medicinal kitchen – why not start adding it to your cooking! In the meantime, enjoy a little golden milk.
1/4 Cup fresh turmeric root, about 3 inches
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 cups whole raw cow, goat, sesame, sunflower, almond or oat milk
2 -3 tsp. molasses, depending on how sweet you like it
Wash and dice the turmeric root. Combine water, turmeric and black pepper in a saucepan – if a 1/2 cup of water does not completely cover the turmeric, add a little more. Simmer the mixture, covered, over low heat for about 20 minutes. Add the milk and molasses to taste, stir until all ingredients are combined, then heat on low for about 5 minutes. Strain and drink hot.
Note: if you do not have access to fresh turmeric root, use 1 1/2 Tbs. dried root in place of the fresh root. Follow the same preparation instructions, but instead of covering and simmering for 20 minutes unattended, heat the mixture over low heat, stirring constantly until it forms a thick paste, about 10 minutes.