When I was growing up, I was scared of my Mom’s Indian cooking. I thought it looked weird, smelled funny and was nothing like what I saw available at school or what other kids were eating. This was a HUGE mistake and one that I regret tremendously. Not only is my Mom’s cooking my favorite food in the world now, but I love all the healthy ingredients she uses! Indian food, as most of you know is full of medicinal spices that have cancer fighting compounds, antixiodants, and other nutrient dense properties that nourish the body. Back then, I knew nothing about those spices, but now I do. Turmeric is one of those spices that I am most thankful for discovering! Not only have I used it in place of Advil to heal injuries, but I eat it almost everyday. This powerful spice has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat a number of conditions, and scientists believe that one of the reasons why turmeric is so effective is that it contains curcumin. There are dozens of studies into the health benefits of curcumin, and it’s been shown to protect againstliver damage, cancer, cerebrovascular dysfunction, and Alzheimer’s disease. Recently I went to an island called Zanzibar, off the coast of Tanzania in Africa. While there, I got to visit the most incredible spice farms that grow almost every spice imaginable. I met the most impressive young man named James. He works on the farm in his free time to save money for med school. James showed us around and we ate the fresh turmeric he dug up straight from the ground. Here’s a short video of James getting some fresh turmeric root for us to try. 15 Ways To Add Turmeric To Your Life: 1. Brew Turmeric tea: Dr. Andrew Weil recommends this simple way to use turmeric – Just bring 1 cup of water to a boil and then stir in ¼ teaspoon of ground turmeric or fresh grated turmeric. Allow it to simmer for 10 minutes and strain before drinking. You can stir in honey or fresh lemon juice for added flavor. 2. Stir up a curry powder: When you’re cooking with turmeric, it’s a good idea to mix it with some black pepper or oil (or both!) as this has been shown to increase the bioavailability of curcumin so that your body can use it. That’s why one of the best ways to eat turmeric is in dishes with some fat, plenty of black pepper and curry powder. A basic curry powder can be made with 8 parts ground coriander, 4 parts ground cumin and 1 part each of turmeric and cayenne or paprika. You can decrease the cayenne and use paprika instead if you don’t want it spicy, and store this in a glass container in your pantry for up to 6 months. Try using this curry powder to make theseChickpea Curry Wraps, or in this Coconut Split Pea Soup! Those are both very simple recipes taken from the Food Babe Membership Program. If you want to make a more elaborate curry, you’ve got to try this Balinese Curry Sauce that I learned to make in Bali a few years ago – it’s amazing. 3. Blend it into a smoothie or juice it: You can add a pinch or two of ground turmeric or one to two inches of raw fresh turmeric to a flavorful smoothie, like this Sunrise Green Smoothie, and you won’t even taste it! Granted… it may change the color of your smoothie, since it’s got such a strong pigment. To increase the bioavailability, dissolve the turmeric in a bit of warm coconut oil before blending it in, or blend in ½ an avocado for some fat. You can also juice Turmeric, check out this recipe. 4. Season roasted veggies: Toss some fresh vegetables (like diced potatoes, cauliflower, or brussel sprouts) with a dash of olive oil and turmeric, along with any other seasonings you like. Roast at 400 degrees, tossing once until done, usually about 30-40 minutes. 5. Brush your teeth with it: When I first heard this I thought it was ridiculous… because who wants yellow teeth! That’s until I read that for some reason it doesn’t stain teeth yellow, and instead whitens them up naturally. But be warned that your toothbrush will get stained yellow! Simply dip your wet toothbrush in a pinch of turmeric, brush your teeth with it, and allow it to sit on your teeth for about 3-5 minutes. Make sure to rinse your mouth (and sink!) thoroughly and then brush with your regular toothpaste afterwards. This isn’t a daily ritual, just do this occasionally to brighten up your smile. 6. Add color to boring dishes: Stir a dash of turmeric into plain basmati rice, quinoa, mashed potatoes, or eggs for added color. It doesn’t add much flavor, and changes things up a bit. 7. Drink Golden Milk: This is an ancient Ayurvedic recipe that can be made a number of ways. It is essentially just a turmeric paste mixed with warm milk and oil or ghee. You can use any kind of milk for this recipe (dairy, goat, nut, oat). To make the paste, simply bring ½ cup filtered water to a low simmer and then mix in ¼ cup of ground turmeric, stirring constantly until it makes a thick paste (this can take 5-10 minutes) adding more water as needed. To make the golden milk, mix 1/2 teaspoon of paste with 1 cup of milk in a saucepan and cook over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in about 1/2 teaspoon of coconut oil or ghee before drinking (you can also add other spices like cinnamon, ginger, or black pepper, and honey or maple syrup for some sweetness). Store the remaining turmeric paste in your fridge for 2 weeks. This is fabulous before bedtime! …zzzzzzz! 8. Make homemade mustard: You can mix up a basic mustard with ½ cup ground mustard, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon water, 1 teaspoon each of turmeric and salt. Store in a glass jar in the fridge. 9. Fortify your soup: A few dashes of turmeric can be added to most soups without changing the flavor, it adds a nice color to brothy soups and may help you fight a cold. 10. Mix up a cold remedy: Since turmeric has been shown to boost immunity and fight viruses like the common cold, it can be used to make a variety of home remedies. One way to do it is by mixing 1 tablespoon of powdered turmeric with 7 tablespoons of raw honey (this is known as Golden Honey). Whenever you want to boost your immunity or are fighting a cold, dissolve a 1/2 teaspoon of this mixture in your mouth every couple hours. You can also make some turmeric gummy bears (like these from The Cook’s Pajamas). Just make sure you choose the right kind of gelatin to make these (grass-fed, organic). Since gelatin is an animal product, it’s crucial that you carefully choose your gelatin and that it doesn’t come from factory-farmed animals that were subjected to antibiotics, artificial hormones and GMO feed. 11. Saute a healthy side dish: For a quick side dish, saute some fresh greens (kale, spinach, etc) in some olive oil and turmeric. I like to add fresh garlic and a dash of sea salt too. 12. Sprinkle on an avocado: This is an awesome snack, full of fiber and just enough fat to keep you from indulging in unhealthy processed snacks from the vending machine. Another variation is to mash the avocado, mix in some ground turmeric, a dash of sea salt, a dash of black pepper, and spread it on sprouted bread or brown rice crackers or cakes. 13. Make natural food coloring: There’s no reason to ever bake with artificial dyes like Yellow #5 and Yellow #6, when it’s so easy to make with turmeric. Just boil some water, whisk in enough turmeric to create the yellow shade you want, and boil for 3 to 5 minutes. Allow it to cool and store it in a glass jar in the fridge – and that’s it! If you want to use it to dye Easter eggs, simply add some vinegar to the dye. 14. Top your salad with it: You can sprinkle a pinch of turmeric directly on your salad or blend it into about any salad dressing, and the flavor will go largely unnoticed. Make a quick turmeric salad dressing by whisking together1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, 2 teaspoons miso paste, 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon raw honey and the juice from 1/2 a lemon (this is another recipe from the Food Babe Membership Program) – or try stirring some into this tahini dressing! 15. Spread it on your skin: Turmeric has been known to reduce the inflammation and itching caused by eczema when applied directly to the skin. Just mix some ground turmeric with a little water (you can also use coconut oil, almond oil, or sesame oil), apply it on the affected areas, and wash off after about 15 minutes. Turmeric is also used to relieve the pain and swelling of sprained joints. One popular sprain remedy is a mixture of 2 tablespoons turmeric, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and a few drops of water until it makes a thick paste. Carefully rub it on the sprain and wrap it in a cheesecloth or a cloth bandage. Leave it on for at least 20 minutes. Beware, that turmeric will temporarily stain your skin, so this works best on body parts that you can cover easily or don’t mind being orange for a little while! Before you run out and buy some turmeric… One thing you don’t want to do is just pick up some random powdered turmeric from the spice aisle and start sprinkling it on your food, because many of these spices are irradiated, grown with conventional pesticides, and not organic. If you want to use turmeric effectively, it’s recommended that you buy organic high quality ground turmeric or fresh turmeric root from the produce section (found in natural food stores like Whole Foods).