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December 20, 2016

Turmeric – a distinctly earthy, orange-golden spice is often overlooked in many kitchens, but proves to be a great culinary addition with a fantastic and bright presentation. For over 5,000 years, this plant has been cultivated and harvested in tropical Asian countries as well as its homeland, India, where it is considered auspicious and holy. Turmeric is well known in many countries to add health benefits to any meal and has a strong presence in Ayurvedic medicine. In its early history it was used as a dye and then later for its health benefits.

The turmeric spice is derived from Curcuma longa which is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant in the ginger family. This means that the turmeric root not only grows vertically, but horizontally. This can result in the finger like nodules that are typically present. Inside the turmeric root is where the wonderful curcuminoids, or biologically available parts, are found. Curcumin is the most powerful of the curcuminoids found in turmeric and usually only composes 3.14% of turmeric powder found in stores. Curcumin in a concentrated form is sold as an herbal supplement, cosmetic ingredient, food flavoring and coloring.

The amazing health effects that Curcumin has are credited to it being a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound. This golden ingredient has shown to help with joint pain and other inflammation and/or pain, as well as having anti-tumor, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Turmeric has been used for centuries to aid in liver detoxification and promote stomach and gut healing.

When turmeric is used with black pepper, the effects are greatly increased and it adds another dimension to this earthy flavor. The piperine in pepper helps our bodies absorb and use the curcuminoids more effectively.

During today’s wellness lesson, this information was shared with the Ohana (students and staff) and brought to life by making Golden Milk. The recipe found in the next blog post was used to make a big, 15 person batch of beautifully earthy golden milk for the Ohana.

Just three days ago, the Ohana harvested an entire 5-gallon bucket (13 pounds!!) of turmeric from our garden. The roots were then processed and either set aside for meal additions this week or used for the golden milk (see recipe in next post). After the lesson today, Jack, one of our new Akahi students, said “Wow. I didn’t really know what turmeric was before this. This stuff is so neat…I have never really gardened before and this stuff is pretty cool.”

By: Kate Goodwin, Wellness Medical Supervisor