I have been making a turmeric-ginger tea lately that has become my favorite. I spend most of the winter slightly miserable because I am always cold. I'm the one constantly blowing on her fingers or sitting on her hands to increase blood flow and feeling. If it were permissible to wear fleecy, footie-pajamas as an adult in public, I would own a pair for each day of the week. I'm even huddled under a blanket while I write this. Needless to say, I rely heavily on hot beverages to get me through the chilly winter days and that's where the turmeric-ginger tea comes in. I grate a little fresh ginger and turmeric, steep it in hot water, add a little lemon and honey, and voila, I am warm through and through.
I'm a bit off topic here.
I really want to talk about turmeric. Yes, it makes a great tea, but it is also fantastic for the body.
Turmeric has been harvested since 3,000 BC. It is a rhizome with a finger-like appearance very similar to ginger. Ginger's flesh if yellow, turmeric is orange. It has a very pungent smell and taste and is used extensively in cooking for both its hue and warm, earthy flavor. Turmeric has a long history in Chinese and Indian medicines. Chinese healers touted turmeric for its ability to invigorate the blood. Indian healers recognized turmeric's medicinal properties as a diuretic, antispasmodic, and digestive.
Western medicine is a little late to the game, but has recently lauded turmeric for it's analgesic and cancer-fighting abilities. Curcumin, the compound that gives turmeric its coloring, has proven to have great anti-inflammatory capabilities. According to The New Optimum Nutrition Bible: “Trials in which it (curcumin) was given to arthritic patients showed it similarly effective to anti- inflammatory drugs, without the side effects”. Other studies have shown curcumin can protect the body from free-radicals and inhibit tumor growth.
Turmeric can be bought fresh or as a dried and powdered spice. When bought fresh, it can keep in the fridge for about a month. As a powder, the shelf-life is about a year. Use liberally in food preparation. Try my turmeric-ginger tisane described above, or be a bit more adventurous in your kitchen. Turmeric is the main component in curry powder, if you like Indian cooking, good on you. Add turmeric to a homemade salad dressing. Use it in an egg, potato, or chicken salad. Sprinkle some in a lentil soup, or any soup really. Use in a marinade. Add to a smoothie. Beware- turmeric can stain, so wear your apron. Just kidding, I mean, who actually owns an apron these days?