TURMERIC! 18 Oct 2012
Turmeric, a member of the ginger family, is grown in the tropical climates of southeast Asia. Used in Indian, Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine for centuries, Turmeric has only recenlty become the focus of many studies looking to verify its purported health benefits. For over 2500 years, Ayurvedic medicine has used turmeric to reduce inflamation, slow aging, improve circulation, and improve digestion. Traditional Chinese medicine has also used turmeric to improve skin conditions, increase liver function and heal wounds. The active ingredient in turmeric responsible for all of these medicinal properties is called curcumin (no relation to cumin).
Recently, curcumin has been getting tons of press because of its success in fighting cancer in laboratory animals. Particularly tumors of the esophagus, mouth, intestines, stomach, breast, and skin. Other studies are also being done on how curcumin may help with Alzheimers, bad cholesterol and improve kidney function for transplant patients. And that's just scratching the surface of what many healthcare professionals think are the possibilites of this small root.
Of course as always is the case in the medical field, the jury is still out on how conclusive these tests actually are. Most of the tests have been done on animals, not humans, and there is some disagreement as to how the curcumin is best administered--pill form, etc. One thing that is for certain? Turmeric is delicious. Its flavor is rich and it imparts a deep-yellow orange color to the dishes it's used in. It can add the perfect twist to many of your traditional fall recipes. Traditionally turmeric is used pretty liberally, so don't be afraid to sprinkle away (easing in with a pinch goes a long way too!)
If you're not ready to add it to your butternut squash just yet, you can find it in the following Lithe Foods and ease into the flavor: