Rouba Haddad RD MSc

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Totally Terrific Turmeric

January 17, 2018

 

Happy 2018 everyone!!! Show of hands, how many of you have already crapped out on your New Year’s resolutions? If you have, don’t worry. You’re in a very crowded boat! And really, who has time for bullet journaling?

 

On the other hand, if you’re here, reading this, maybe you’ve resolved to eat better or to work on your health and wellbeing this year? And maybe, just maybe, you’ll stick with it?

 

I bet you will. Do you know why? Because you can do it!!!

 

Also, better health through diet is really not as difficult as people think.

 

Small changes can have big impacts, a healthy diet does not mean depriving yourself of foods you love, and if you fall off the wagon, you don’t have to wait for 2019 to get back on. That wagon comes along anytime you want!

 

So if you have a goal of getting healthier this year, let’s start with something simple and delicious… turmeric!

 

Wait, what? We’re starting with a spice?

 

We’re not purging your fridge or making a meal plan?

 

Look, you’ll get there. But big change is about small steps. Those small steps add up, but mostly, they encourage you, motivate you, and propel you forward.

 

So yeah. Let’s start with a spice!

 

I have always found the health and healing benefits of food fascinating. Healthy eating is so much more than diet or weight management. What you put into your body nourishes your whole life and impacts so many facets of your wellbeing.

 

And turmeric is an amazing thing to put into your body.

 

What the heck is turmeric?

 

Turmeric is a spice common in many Asian cuisines. It is derived from the root of a plant that’s part of the ginger family. It has a bright yellow colour and warm, earthy flavour (think more along the lines of cinnamon and less… dirt). It is not spicy, but can add a mild pepperiness to dishes.

 

This yummy spice has been in the spotlight recently due to its many health benefits. You may have even seen recipes for “golden milk”, a turmeric based tea. But turmeric is also delicious in curries, soups, stews, roasted veggies and so much more. There’s even a middle eastern cake that features a generous addition of turmeric. Cake? Yes, please!

 

What’s all the fuss about? Why are we all eating cake?

 

Here are just a few of the potential benefits (aside from the vibrant flavour and colour) of making turmeric a part of your diet:

 

Fighting lupus

Just a quarter teaspoon of turmeric a day has been shown to significantly reduce some of the most serious complications of lupus.

 

Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis

A recent study compared a common anti inflammatory drug to curcumin in treating rheumatoid arthritis. Curcumin is one of the active ingredients of turmeric, meaning, well, it’s active! It one of the components found in turmeric that… does the stuff. In this study, curcumin performed significantly better than the drug, with zero side effects.

 

Reducing inflammation

Turmeric may be helpful in reducing inflammation, in general. The same way it helps reduce inflammation caused by lupus and arthritis, there is evidence it may help with other chronic inflammatory diseases and conditions like ulcerative colitis and crohn’s.

 

Treating and preventing various cancers

Many studies suggest that regular consumption of turmeric may help prevent certain cancers, such as breast cancer and colon cancer. There may even be potential in using turmeric, or a compound of turmeric, to one day treat certain cancers.

 

Treating Alzheimer's disease

There has even been some evidence suggesting turmeric could potentially help treat or lessen the symptoms of dementia in alzheimer’s patients.

 

These are just a few of the reasons I am enamored by this amazing little spice. It helps that you can make some seriously yummy dishes with it too.

 

Sounds awesome! What do I do now?

 

Experiment! If you haven’t cooked much with turmeric, it can be daunting at first. And if cooking at all isn’t your thing, what the heck are you supposed to do?

 

Don’t let complex recipes scare you off. Instead, try something simple. Add a small scoop of turmeric to rice before cooking it. Toss your favourite veggies with a little olive oil, salt and turmeric before roasting. Stir a bit into chicken soup and simmer for a few minutes before serving. To really get the flavour, saute a bit of onion in a little oil. Add a teaspoon or so of turmeric and continue cooking for about 30 seconds, then add your soup (or use it as the start of a homemade soup).

 

Once you get familiar with the flavour, you’ll be amazed how many foods you can add it to.

 

But remember!

 

While this unsung hero of the spice drawer really can impact your overall health and wellness, it’s important to remember that there is no such thing as a “superfood” that can magically make you healthy. Beneficial foods and ingredients, like turmeric, must be part of an overall healthy diet to really have an impact.

 

So, although turmeric would probably be delicious sprinkled on fries, if wellness is your goal, skip the fries and sprinkle it on roasted cauliflower instead. Well… try it on the fries too. Just once. Maybe twice ;-)

 

Final warning…

 

Turmeric does have one HUGE flaw. It stains. Like, really stains. So be careful, and if you drop dahl on your sweater, or spill golden milk all over your favourite throw, here are 4 easy ways to remove turmeric stains.

 

Good luck and have a happy, healthy 2018!

 

 

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