Turmeric makes dishes healthier and taste better

Hidden Gems: Turmeric

It all started with this stew. Scanning the ingredient list, I saw a spice I’d never cooked with before: turmeric. I was hesitant at first but decided to try it. I picked up the bright yellow-orange spice from the grocery store and got cooking on a cold, winter day. While the stew simmered, wonderful smells of warmth wafted through my home. While eating, my head and heart were filled with words of comfort –like savory, cozy, rest. It was amazing.

Turmeric is an ingredient in a buttnernut, sweet potato and red lentil stew

Erika tries her hand at “Cozy Butternut, Sweet Potato, and Red Lentil Stew”

That was it. I became obsessed. Each week, I hunted for one or two new recipes that included turmeric as an ingredient. Our house became regularly filled with the comforting smell while making curried coconut pumpkin soup with chicken and Afghan braised chicken in yogurt. I soon discovered turmeric could also be added to tea, smoothies, milk, and even ice cream. I’m looking forward to making these next, and trying out turmeric in the crockpot.

What’s the secret?

Haven’t cooked with this spice before? I was wary too, at first. Turmeric is bright orange and smells very different from the spices and seasonings I grew up with (salt, pepper, basil, oregano).

But if you love comfort food or eating things that make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, you’ll probably love turmeric too.  

A delicious stew made with turmeric simmering on the stove.

A delicious stew made with turmeric simmering on the stove.

The Details

Turmeric (pronounced either “ter-mer-ic” or “tu-mer-ic”) is a member of the ginger family. It has been used for centuries in Asian and Indian cuisines. Turmeric has an earthy, warm flavor that is slightly peppery and a little bitter. You can find it at your local grocery store, either ground or fresh (which looks a lot like ginger root).

Turmeric is available at all major grocery stores

Turmeric is available at all major grocery stores

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, preliminary studies have demonstrated that turmeric and curcurmin (a component of turmeric) may improve many health conditions ranging from arthritis to skin irritation.  Should it be considered a “miracle cure-all” spice? Well, recent research suggests more robust studies are needed to know for sure.  Ready to try it?

Turmeric Highlights:

Erika hard at work on her stew with turmeric as the hidden gem

Erika hard at work on her stew with turmeric as the hidden gem

Cooking with turmeric, as well as other spices from basil to vanilla, can help lower your intake of fat, salt, and sugar. Cooking with a spice, for example, is often healthier than cooking with a high-fat ingredient, such as butter.

“Most spices are also very low in calories and inexpensive for the small amount used in most recipes,” said Pat Salzer, registered dietitian, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.

Personally, when I cook with turmeric, I find I also eat more vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. I love breaking out of my spice comfort-zone while making delicious, healthy food for my family.

Don’t Miss:

These delicious and easy recipes starring turmeric:

Mealime – Curried Coconut Pumpkin Soup with Chicken
Mom’s Kitchen Handbook – Afghan Braised Chicken in Yogurt
Oh She Glows – Cozy Butternut, Sweet Potato and Red Lentil Stew


Erika Gruszewski

3 thoughts on “Hidden Gems: Turmeric

  1. Damian Graybelle says:

    Erika – I made the Afghan braised chicken in yogurt for my wife last night and she loved it. Really flavorful dish and it doesn’t hurt that it’s pretty healthy as well.

    • Erika Gruszewski says:

      So glad to hear that she enjoyed it Damian! And I agree, it’s awesome when recipes are both healthy and delicious!

Leave a Reply

Feel free to comment on this blog post. Please be advised that we will remove comments that do not meet the Comment Posting Guidelines. If you want to send a private message, email SocialMediaExcellus@excellus.com. For more information, please see our Comment Posting Guidelines.