I spent a lot of the last year in Central America to immerse myself in a different culture and learn about sustainable farming and organic farming. There are many super foods and rainforest medicinal plants which grow in tropical climates that were great to grow and harvest. Turmeric was one of the many spices that I enjoyed working with because it is great to cook with and is highly medicinal.

Turmeric is an ancient spice that is used in Chinese and Indian medicine. There is a phytonutrient in turmeric which is called curcumin. Curcumin has been heavily researched and shows promise in helping the body protect against diseases and flushes the system of toxins.  Turmeric exhibits antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer activities. Adding turmeric to your daily diet can be extremely beneficial to your health. Unfortunately, turmeric is not a popular food in the typical American diet. If turmeric is not a part of your current diet, than this is a great time to add this delicious spice to your favorite dish. Incorporating turmeric into your diet can act as a major immune booster when consumed on a regular basis. The Okinawan Japanese are the longest living people on the planet, and many people believe it is due to the consumption of turmeric tea in their diet daily.

Turmeric Tea Recipe

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon powdered ginger

1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric or root (best if found fresh in your local health food store)

2 tablespoon honey and agave

Squeeze half a lime in tea

There are many other ways you can enjoy the benefits of turmeric other than cooking. To gargle with turmeric, put the root in a blender with half cup of water and gargle for five minutes. Turmeric is known to clean respiratory system of pollution and toxins. I like to gargle with turmeric when I get a cold as a tonic instead of buying over-the-counter cold products.

Turmeric is great for insect bites because of its ant-inflammatory properties. I like to smudge the root on mosquito and bug bites because it helps with the itch and healing. Mix a tablespoon of olive oil with a dash of turmeric powder, or if you have turmeric root rub it over the bite. Turmeric does stain (yellow) so be careful when you work with it. It will come off the skin with lots of scrubbing, but it could take a day to completely wash off. My face looked like I belonged to the Simpson family the first time I used a turmeric mask. I was yellow for a day, so be aware of this if you use it on the skin.

Turmeric is a great natural dye for anything you want to color yellow. My friend knitted a hat for me last year and used turmeric-dyed yarn and I get complements on it all the time. You can also use the natural dye of turmeric to color this year’s Easter eggs. In a pot mix 2 teaspoons of turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon of vinegar and 2 cups of water. Let the eggs sit in the water for 20 minutes to color your eggs the natural way.