3 Turmeric Recipes: Soup, Smoothie and No-bake Dessert

Turmeric is one of those spices that used to get lost among all of the other seasonings in the kitchen. But thanks to the growing interest in ethnic cuisine and holistic health, as well as endorsements from chefs, nutritionists, and celebrities, the golden spice is back in the culinary spotlight.

Best known for its use in mustard and curry powder, turmeric has long been a staple in many Indian and Asian dishes. But its popularity is just now catching on in the Western world where people are intrigued by its savory taste, versatility, and potential health benefits.

A Centuries-old Condiment

Turmeric is the most ancient of spices, used by Eastern cultures for more than 4,000 years to support health problems that cause pain and fatigue, issues affecting the respiratory and digestive system, and even unhealthy skin, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Ground and dried from the turmeric root - part of the same family of herbs as ginger - turmeric grows primarily in Southeast Asia and is touted as the “spice of life” in India for its medicinal reputation.

The root contains hundreds of essential nutrients and minerals, including beta-carotene, flavonoids, vitamin C, fiber, iron, potassium, niacin, and zinc. But its standout ingredient is the polyphenol curcumin, which gives turmeric its bright yellow hue and contributes to its beneficial properties.

Curcumin has been the subject of numerous studies for its prowess as an antioxidant and ability to fight cell and tissue damage, and support the normal function of the immune system. While much of the buzz about turmeric is hyperfocused on curcumin, some experts argue that whole turmeric works best as a natural addition to a healthy diet when enjoyed with all its nutrients intact.

Researchers are still exploring the potential medicinal benefits of turmeric, like whether turmeric can help with hair loss or helping to keep locks thick and full; but there is no doubt this hardy spice makes meals more flavorful, colorful, and nutritious.

Tips for Cooking With Turmeric

Clueless about how to cook with turmeric? You don’t have to use much of it to enjoy its earthy, peppery taste in dishes. All you need is a teaspoon or two of the ground spice or a thumb-sized piece of the peeled root. The flavor can be intense, so start with less than the minimal amount and add more as you adjust to the taste.

Turmeric recipes are easy to find online and include everything from the more traditional curries and chutneys to soups, salad dressings, marinades, teas, juices, smoothies, and desserts. Most grocery stores carry both the ground spice and the fresh root, and recipes abound for each.

Cooking with turmeric takes some caution, since it easily stains countertops, utensils, and clothes. Combining the spice with black pepper and a fat source is also important for helping the body absorb its most active ingredient, curcumin. Turmeric pairs great with eggs and a dash of black pepper or with a splash of olive oil and roasted veggies.

Along with lentil, rice, and chicken dishes, one of the trendiest turmeric recipes is a tea known as golden milk, which is turmeric mixed with milk, black pepper, cinnamon, ginger, and honey. Families in India and Asia have used golden milk, which they call haldi doodh, as a longtime tonic for soothing sore throats. Now it’s fast becoming the hottest new drink in U.S. coffee shops.

Easy Turmeric Recipes

Eager to experiment with turmeric? It’s a versatile spice that’s easy to incorporate into many different kinds of foods. Soup is one of the most popular turmeric-based dishes. This recipe from Gourmande in the Kitchen combines turmeric and ginger with fresh carrots for a velvety, spiced broth that can be served hot or chilled.

Ginger Turmeric Spiced Carrot Soup

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 - 3 small green onions, chopped
  • 1 - 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 ½ pounds young carrots, sliced 1/2 inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1-inch piece of turmeric root, peeled and grated (or ½ tsp ground turmeric)
  • Ground pepper to taste
  • 4 cups filtered water
  • ¼ cup plain yogurt or full-fat coconut milk
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Directions:

Melt coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add green onions, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes, cooking lightly for 1 - 2 minutes or until glossy, but not brown. Add carrots, salt, cinnamon, and turmeric, and cook another 1 - 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 20 - 25 minutes or until carrots are soft. Puree soup in batches in a high-speed blender. If serving cold, chill soup for 3 - 4 hours or overnight. Divide soup between 4 - 6 bowls and add a spoonful of yogurt or a drizzle of coconut milk to each serving to round out the flavor. Top with chopped parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper.

Turmeric also works great in smoothies, adding a savory kick that is surprisingly refreshing. This recipe from the Lemons & Basil blog uses bananas as the base for a flavorful smoothie that blends the spiciness of turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon with the sweetness of honey and vanilla and the nutty taste of protein-packed hemp seeds.

Turmeric Banana Smoothie With Ginger

Prep time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 medium sized frozen bananas
  • 1-½ cups vanilla almond milk, unsweetened
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  • ½ teaspoons ground turmeric (or a thumb-sized piece of the peeled root)
  • ½ teaspoons ginger, minced
  • ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ tablespoons honey
  • ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 6 to 8 ice cubes

Directions:

Combine bananas, milk, hemp seeds, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, vanilla, pepper and ice in a blender and puree for 20 - 30 seconds or until creamy and smooth. Blend in honey and more milk to thin mixture if desired. Top with extra hemp seeds and turmeric. Serves 2.

Despite its peppery taste, turmeric also makes a yummy addition to desserts! This gluten free, no-bake recipe from the Running on Real Food blog mixes savory turmeric and other spices such as ginger and cinnamon with layers of naturally sweet coconut, cashews, and maple syrup (or dates if you prefer).

No-bake Turmeric Coconut Balls

Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1-½ cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup (or substitute 1 cup dates)
  • 3 teaspoons organic ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon organic ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Directions:

Put coconut in a high-speed blender or food processor and mix until the consistency becomes slightly oily. Add cashews, maple syrup, turmeric, black pepper, ginger and cinnamon and sea salt and mix until the cashews are broken down. Gently press the mixture into 12 balls. Set them in the fridge for a few hours until they harden, then enjoy!

These recopies are easy to enjoy, provide many of the nutrients the body needs during the day, and may even help you to maintain a healthy weight. If you struggle with your health goals, consider changing your diet and adding a heaping dose of turmeric to your favorite recipe.