As we still seem to be stuck in the depths of winter, I find myself gravitating towards anything that claims to be ‘immune-boosting and flu fighting’, loading up on ginger, honey and lemon, as well as high vitamin C foods such as sprouts and grapefruit. Yet one spice I never considered to be anything more than a pungent curry powder is suddenly the latest superfood craze for its immune-boosting abilities.
Turmeric, dubbed ‘nature’s gold’, is now adding its Midas touch to our lattes, cookies, breads etc.
But why are we going crazy for this pungent yellow root – what is all the fuss about?
A relative of ginger, turmeric has been used in India, Asia and the Middle East for centuries. Its health benefits stem from the compound that gives it its yellow hue, called Curcumin. Curcumin is bursting with anti-inflammatory properties been known to ease heartburn, indigestion and arthritis and has even been proven to delay the onset of diabetes. Yet it doesn’t stop there; delving deeper into this treasure chest, I also discovered that turmeric contains another powerful compound called Ar-turmerone, which has been shown to improve brain function. In fact, one study conducted in 2014 demonstrated its contribution to brain stem-cell regeneration, meaning that it could potentially be used to help treat Alzheimer’s and neurodegenerative diseases.
So how can we increase our intake of this golden wonder??
The powder can mixed into smoothies, coffees, batters for cakes, muffins and cookies, or raw bites, soups, stews, casseroles, salad dressings – you name it.
It marries well with spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, as well as ginger and just gives the most wonderful warming colour to all it touches. You can even just add a little to your next honey and lemon concoction for an extra kick. It is quite pungent though, so if you’re a turmeric first-timer, I would advise starting with smaller quantities (1/2 teaspoon) and then add more according to taste. This weekend, why not give my Turmeric Sweet Potato Pancakes a try? Or add a little more turmeric into my Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup?
I also recently crafted these cookies for a friend with a stinking cold, as an immune-boosting and flu-fighting snack. Packed with vitamins and minerals, good fats and spices, these are bursting with goodness!
Ingredients (makes about 15 small cookies)
- 1 cup of smooth almond butter
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- ½ date syrup (you could also use runny honey or agave nectar)
- ½ cup coconut flour (or any gluten-free or regular wheat flour)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- zest of half an orange
- zest of half a lemon
- 1 tsp of ground turmeric
- 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp of cinnamon
- 1 tsp of nutmeg
- ½ cup desiccated coconut
- ½ ground nutmeg
- a pinch of salt
- ½ tsp of baking powder
- Preheat your oven to 180C/350F and line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Mix the almond butter, sugar and date syrup in a bowl until well combined.
- Then add the vanilla, beaten egg and mix again. Then add the fresh ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, flour, baking powder and pinch of salt.
- Then stir in the desiccated coconut and mix well until well combined. The dough will be quite wet but that’s ok – don’t worry if it doesn’t resemble regular cookie dough J
- Take a tablespoon of the dough and place on parchment paper, and repeat until you have filled your tray. You can slightly flatten the top of the cookie with a back of a spoon, as they will maintain its exact shape as it cooks.
- Place in the middle of the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes.
- Once they start to go a golden brown colour, remove them from the oven and let them cook for about 5 minutes before eating. Enjoy!
By Amelia Stewart of Cook First. For more of Amelia’s delightful recipes, please visit www.cookfirst.co.uk/samplerecipes.