Everyone and their brother is talking about consuming turmeric and how great it is for you.
For a long time now, I’ve been adding fresh turmeric root to my smoothies or making turmeric tea (and any appropriate recipe I can squeeze it into) because of its incredibly powerful health benefits. However, it is a complex flavor to work with and it can be challenging to incorporate it into your diet at first, plus, it’s a real P.I.T.A. to clean up. So I’m going to share some easy ways to get it in to your bod, since it can take some getting used to and also, it stains just about everything so I’ll give you some turmeric management suggestions. Here we go!
The flavor of turmeric requires an open mind if you are not overly exploratory, but it is one that you can get used to and enjoy. Just get your big kid pants on and take that leap of faith. It’s certainly something you’d taste in asian or indian cuisines; turmeric is a staple ingredient. Even if you don’t get used to the taste, you can easily hide it in a smoothie, vegetable or meat seasoning, a soup or stew. It’s akin to ginger in that it’s got an earthy, peppery, bite to it – a little zinga zang. It’s quite warming actually. I purchase both powder and root, and get both at the health food store — I look for organic turmeric.
How to eat it
I’ve added it into smoothies for years now but beware, it dyes your plastic blender jar yellow. And not sunshine yellow. Ugly yellow. In terms of amount, I just use a quarter teaspoon or a half inch of the root, peeled (I use a small paring knife to do this – yellow fingers, hi.). It’s also great for mixing into a meat seasoning (pairs nicely with other warming spices but not with herbs IMO e.g. there’s no oregano-turmeric spice blend I know of), sprinkling over potatoes as you would paprika, and of course, it is the star of indian, asian and middle-eastern recipes. You can use the powdered version, simmer a peeled half inch of the root in a pot with other ingredients for a nice infusion, or grate or mince before sautéing as you would garlic or ginger. If you make tuna, grain, bean or potato salad, sprinkle some into the mix for a little kick in the old flavour bottom.
My turmeric tea recipe
I’ve been avoiding smoothies lately, since it’s freezing cold where I am and I like to retain my body heat, thanks, so I’ve been doing a lot more oatmeal and eggs for breakfast instead. To maintain my turmeric intake, I’ve started making this simple turmeric tea recipe.
- 1 inch turmeric root, peeled
- 10 peppercorns, whole
- 1 teaspoon raw honey (because I believe in raw honey, but use regular honey, whatever you’ve got)
- 4 cups water (I use filtered water)
Peel turmeric root, grate into pot filled with water. Add peppercorns, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 5-7 minutes and then strain into a clean mason jar. Allow to cool to a tolerably warm temperature and then add honey. Stir in honey until it is dissolved. Pour a glass, place the remainder in the fridge. Keeps well for about a week.
You can also get fancy and make very complex turmeric milks or lattes (see recipes, below).
Prepare. Turmeric turns everything bright, neon yellow. The same way a green pepper infects anything it touches with its nasty flavor (you now know where I sit on the green pepper issue), turmeric will infect anything it touches with a neon yellow wash. Your skin and teeth, toothbrush, nails, fingers, counters, kitchen towels, cutting board, yes. Everything it touches will turn to gold, literally. I’ve drank turmeric tea before willy nilly and ended up with an unsightly turmeric milk mustache. Definitely not hot. Did not Insta that. If you’ve worked with beets before, this will be a similar experience.
Over my turmeric years, I’ve learned some tricks to handling it like a pro. Plus, with all of that cleaning knowledge I have, I’ve found ways to counter its ugly yellow signature.
If you cut it on a treated wood cutting board, it is less likely to absorb stains. Remember to wipe it up immediately, no ‘I’ll do it later’. If chopped on a plastic cutting board, it will certainly discolor, and it does not look like a nice patina – it looks like a yellow stain (which can be really hard to clean). Sometimes I’ll even lay out a paper towel and chop on top of that. It makes catching the peels much easier and packaging up the waste efficiently before tossing.
If you want to protect your fingers from turning yellow, wear glove if you are going to peel it (especially if you have nail polish on – it will ruin your mani). If your fingers are discolored (which happens to me – one time I was headed down to do a morning TV show and saw my horribly yellowed fingers. Needless to say I spent a good few minutes scrubbing my hands before airtime), wash hands well with soap and scrub affected areas with baking soda. If your mani is stained, try using a bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad to swipe off the stain.
Other things it has touched
Use paper towel or a dark coloured rag to clean up anything that touched turmeric – the knife, the smoothie cup, etc. Remember to wait to brush your teeth for about 30 minutes after having it and let your saliva break down the components before your toothbrush does. I have had a neon yellow toothbrush before. If you do get some on you or a surface, you can try scrubbing it out of a porous surface with some baking soda on a sponge, or if it gets on your hands, try a bit of rubbing alcohol. For anything stained, treat immediately with some oxygen bleach and launder as usual.
Learn for yourself the benefits of turmeric (I’m no doctor), and if you decide to start incorporating it into your diet, now you know how to do it and of course, how to clean up the golden mess it leaves behind.