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8 Unexpected Uses for Turmeric

Home cooks are using turmeric for everything from savory curries to natural food coloring. Here are some unexpected ways to incorporate this pain-fighting spice into your daily life.

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Turmeric powder and fresh turmeric on wooden background.tarapong srichaiyos/Shutterstock

The golden spice, turmeric, has gained popularity as a pain-fighting wonder spice and superfood over the years, but it’s long been found in Indian cooking and ayurvedic medicine. The health benefits of this earthy root range from anti-arthritic to anti-microbial to brain boosting, and the list continues to grow. Turmeric gains its antioxidant strength from curcumin, a photochemical shown to be an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. But, curcumin on its own is not as effective as the whole root, making food a perfect way to ingest the benefits of turmeric. If aches and pains plague you on a daily basis, then turmeric may become your new favorite spice.

Unsure how to incorporate this spice? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered with eight clever ways to sneak more turmeric into your daily routine!

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Turmeric drink, latte, tea, milk with cinnamon in a glass mug with fresh and dried turmeric on a textile grey background.Anna_Pustynnikova/Shutterstock

Milk the Benefits

Whip up a batch of golden milk made from 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 3 cups coconut milk, and 1/8 teaspoon black pepper. Then shake it up with enough honey to suit the sippers. Golden milk is best consumed within 24 hours for maximum antioxidant benefits. Craving something warm? Try adding one bag of your favorite chai tea with 1-1/2 cups of heated golden milk for a chai and golden milk latte. Or keep a package of turmeric tea bags at your desk.

(This spice can work wonders on your skin, too. Here’s how to make a turmeric face mask.)

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Green smoothieTaste of Home

Juice or Blend

Whether you’re using the whole root or breaking out your spice jar, adding turmeric to your favorite juice or smoothie recipe will brighten the nutritional notes of any orange juice, carrot juice or ginger-kale smoothie.

Psst: Keep in mind that turmeric can leave a yellow hue on your kitchen equipment. It’s fat soluble, so simply put some olive or coconut oil on a towel and wipe your tools clean.

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Citrus vinaigretteTaste of Home

Drizzle It On

Toss in a pinch of turmeric to your favorite salad dressing, whether it’s a creamy ranch dressing to serve with a crunchy vegetable tray, or a classic vinaigrette like this Citrus Vinaigrette recipe to spice up your favorite dinner salad.

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Caribbean Potato SoupTaste of Home

Stir It into Soups

Soups—from lentil to creamy cauliflower—are a delectable way to sneak in turmeric. Build up any soup base by adding it to the spice list. Give these soups a whirl: Caribbean Potato Soup, Creamy Cauliflower Pakora and Red Curry Carrot Soup.

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Smoky Cauliflower BitesTaste of Home

Roast Veggies

Transform both the flavor and color of vegetables by making DIY Curry Powder and tossing it with potatoes, cauliflower, turnips, carrots or sweet potatoes. Give these Curry Roasted Potatoes or Smoky Cauliflower Bites a try!

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Mrs. Ina’s Corn RelishTaste of Home

Do a Dollop

Stir turmeric into any condiment for a nutrition boost. Toppers like these Bread and Butter Pickles, Peppered Squash Relish and Mrs. Ina’s Corn Relish will elevate any barbecue with a pinch of health. Smear turmeric-spiced hummus onto your favorite bagel or turmeric-infused ketchup onto your burger, or have fun and toss a bit on your popcorn for a savory snack!

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Butternut squash and turmeric smoothie bowl topped with banana, pomegranate, pumpkin kernels, chia, hemp seeds and dried cherries.Eleonora Tuveri/Shutterstock

Sweetening Things Up

Turmeric doesn’t need to be reserved just for savory foods. Consider adding it into frosting for a bit of bold color. Start with a pinch until you get just the right color without altering the flavor. Craving something creamy and sweet? Try this Chia Orange Yogurt with a dash of turmeric added in, which will brighten this breakfast, lunch or dinner treat!

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Texas Style Spanish RiceTaste of Home

Spice Up Grains

Rice, quinoa, bulgur and couscous all mingle well with turmeric. Popular rice pilafs like this Texas Spanish Rice get their golden hue from turmeric. Adding cracked pepper significantly increases the effectiveness of turmeric, so be sure to add a dash of black pepper to the mix! For something unique, consider spicing up your morning oats with a dash of turmeric. Just a pinch would blend well with the other spices in this Oatmeal Brulee recipe.

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Wendy Jo Peterson, MS, RDN
As a registered dietitian Wendy Jo touches on the science and facts behind food, but as a gardener and world traveler she savors the classical dishes our great-grandmothers once made. When she’s not in her kitchen, you can find her and her family exploring the US in their campervan, Olaf!

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