What’s fresh in January? Tantalizing turmeric


By Maddie Bane

Turmeric is the queen bee of spices when it comes to regions like India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. There it is used in medicinal practices just as often as it is in the kitchen. It’s heavily used in the States as well, and it bodes an impressive amount of health benefits, both internal and external. In climates such as the Lowcountry, turmeric is grown as a perennial. In the spirit of “new year, new you,” maybe it’s time to incorporate some of this healthy root into your everyday life.


Pasta with tomatoes, turmeric & capers 


16 ounces penne pasta

2 cups tomatoes, diced

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup white wine

1/3 cup capers

1 tablespoon turmeric 

Salt and pepper, to taste


[1] Cook pasta according to package directions. While doing so, heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. [2] Add tomatoes, capers, and turmeric. Bring to a high heat and add white wine. Simmer for 2-3 minutes. [3] Bring heat back down and cook for an additional two minutes. [4] Once pasta is cooked, add to sauce and mix until well combined. When serving, add salt and pepper to taste.

Superfood to the rescue

A cousin of ginger, turmeric mimics some of the same nutritional benefits. It’s been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory, lower the risk of heart disease, and even aid in fighting off depression. Widely regarded as a super-food, turmeric can assist in fighting off viral infections. Maybe start slipping some turmeric powder into your tea to get a jumpstart on flu season.

Down to the roots

Want to grow your own turmeric? It’s easy in the subtropical climate of the Lowcountry. Simply plant a turmeric rhizome about three inches deep into the soil and keep it well watered. It is happiest when it is provided ample sun, 8 to 10 months of frost-free growing and regular water. After a few months the plant will spout big and beautiful green leaves that last until temperatures drop. When the leaves turn yellow, dig up the root ball, take what you need, and put the root back into the ground to grow more. With the price of fresh turmeric root soaring to up to $16 a pound, you can save a few bucks while enjoying fresher, more nutritious roots from your garden or container.


Spiced turmeric latte


1/8 cup water

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon sweetener of choice

1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ginger

1 pinch nutmeg


[1] Add water and spices to a pot and boil for 1-2 minutes. [2] In a frother, combine milk and sweetener. Froth until desired consistency and add to boiling water. [3] Boil for one minute and pour drink into cup. Sprinkle cinnamon and turmeric powder on top.

Uses for fresh turmeric root

• Chop it into matchsticks for salads and slaw
• Juice it to use in salad dressings
• Use in grain dishes with lentils and rice
• Grate it into scrambled eggs and omelets
• Use it as part of a marinade for chicken, fish and vegetables
• Pickle or freeze for later use

Super soups

• Creamy orange cauliflower, pumpkin and turmeric soup, dusted with black pepper.
• Boiled oxtail soup with turmeric, glass noodles, tomatoes and peppers.
• Chopped meat with turmeric, garlic, sprouts and potato chips, sprinkled with fried shallots.
• Golden chicken soup with turmeric, carrots, celery and onion.

Where to buy them

You usually can find turmeric rhizomes at Whole Foods; sometimes Kroger and Harris Teeter. Sometimes the roots are fresh, other times frozen. Turmeric powder can be purchased at most major grocery stores, including Burke’s Main Street Pharmacy and The Herb Room Organic Apothecary.

Skin in the game

While turmeric benefits the inside of your body, it can benefit the outside, as well. By combining it with water, coconut oil, and other spices over heat, a paste can be created. This can be used as a home remedy for sunburns. In India, brides and grooms use the paste on their wedding day to enrich the complexion of their skin. LL


Mango & turmeric smoothie


1 cup mango, cubed
1/3 cup Greek yogurt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2/3 cup ice cubes, if desired Fresh mint


[1] In a blender, add all ingredients except mint. [2] Blend until desired consistency. [3] Pour into glass and garnish with mint.

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