Saturday, June 18, 2016

All that turmeric I've been adding to my soups and stews--and all for nothing?

Turmeric. It's a great spice for us, right? Did you know that no matter how much of it you shake into that stew or soup you are making...85% of it degrades and is useless after 10 minutes of high heat. I didn't know that. I put turmeric in all kinds of hot dishes. Organic turmeric at that. Expensive organic turmeric. All for nothing?

Did you also know that to make turmeric bioavailable, it helps to have black pepper and a healthy fat in the dish? How many cold dishes do you eat that have fat and black pepper in them? Try to make somebody eat that, why don't you?

I sat there, spooning a lovely, savory, steaming, hot, tumeric-spiced stew, as I read these disconcerting facts. (I like to sit at the computer and read about how good something is for me while I'm eating it). With all the research I do, how could I have missed this salient fact? Do you know how many blogs and websites tell you to add turmeric to hot things you're going to be cooking for a long time?

No sense crying over spilt turmeric. Mistakes can be fixed. So what are we to do to properly absorb our turmeric? I mean, this is no small matter. Turmeric is touted to be good for almost everything that's wrong with me or might soon be wrong with me if I don't get healthy: diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, aging, arthritis, kidney disease, joint pain, IBD, high cholesterol, fatty liver disease, cancer, even Alzheimers, and the list is growing every day. Turmeric is good stuff clearly.

I was determined to get my turmeric--TONIGHT. I've been eating hot, dead turmeric all these years. No wonder I'm not better yet. Right?

I read some more and found that low heat levels for a short time actually enhance the bioavailability of turmeric. So I cooked up some carrots and onions in a little water and butter (there's that fat I need), and I waited until they were tender and the water had simmered off before taking my pan off the heat and adding my seasonings: grated fresh ginger, black pepper (there's that requisite black pepper), cardamom, a little raw local honey, and lastly, tons of turmeric. Stirred it all together and I had warm carrots, wonderfully spicy, just slightly sweet. Yum. And what do you know, for the first time ever, I didn't degrade my turmeric. I actually made it supremely bioavailable. Turns out quercitin also helps your body to absorb turmeric, and the onions and ginger in my little recipe are loaded with quercitin. 

By the way, if you take those ingredients (turmeric, fresh ginger, black pepper, cardamom, honey and cinnamon) and put them in warm milk, it's a renowned hangover cure. So I guess we can call my carrots Hangover Cure Carrots. Put that in your church recipe book. (hee hee)  I'm a churchgoer, by the way, not making fun of God, just my fellow churchgoers.

Then while I was eating my lovely spiced hangover cure carrots, I read that exposure to light degrades turmeric, and I realized... My turmeric has been sitting for God knows how long in the bright lights of my supermarket aisle then in my kitchen in a clear glass bottle in my spice rack that hangs on the wall near my hot stove. So I ate all those lukewarm turmeric-spiced carrots for nothing? My turmeric was already dead. Probably had been dead for months. Good thing I didn't have a hangover.

Well, one thing you'll learn about me. I always bounce back and I never give up. I thought to myself: it tasted good and the carrots and fresh ginger were good for me. And both my stew and my carrots were alot better for me than the boxed processed foods, the fast food or the deli sandwiches and donuts I'm trying to avoid.

So I guess I'll be buying my turmeric in bulk now, in a nice dark one-pound sealed bag, and I'll keep it in the fridge during summer months. I also learned tonight that using curry powder to get turmeric and its curcumin is a waste of time. There is a negligible amount of turmeric and thus curcumin in most curry powders. Additionally, it's important to find an organic turmeric that has at least 2-5% curcumin content. How do you know? If your turmeric supplier is in that range, they will usually brag about it on the label. If they don't, they probably aren't.

I just placed the order for my bag of turmeric online. I truly prefer to shop local, but none of the local stores offer what I need. My new turmeric is at least 5%, the label says, it's organic, certified free-trade, and it's sealed in a dark one pound bag.

Imagine how I'll look and feel after a year of really getting the benefits of turmeric. Yeah buddy. I'm psyched. After two years of eating dead turmeric, I can't wait to see what this revered superfood spice can do for me.

I just hope the truck carrying my bag of turmeric to me isn't sitting for several days in the hot sun.

Pretty soon my yard will be overgrown with turmeric plants. Watch and see. They say it's easy to grow.

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