Cook with Turmeric - Better Nutrition

Cook with Turmeric

Turmeric shines when paired with sautéed shrimp and squash "noodles".

Squash is one of those vegetables (like cauliflower) that is a godsend for people trying to reduce their intake of wheat, gluten, or processed carbs in general. Just as you can make decent "faux" mashed potatoes from cauliflower, you can make a terrific "faux" pasta from yellow squash or zucchini. Chef Jeannette calls these all-vegetable noodles "zoodles."

In my new book, Smart Fat, we talk about a three-pronged dietary approach to health, and one of those prongs-one of the foundational principles of the program-is the generous use of spices. Spices are the forgotten medicine cabinet of the food supply. They boast a variety of health benefits, and they make food taste great. -Dr. Jonny

Notes from the Clean Food Coach

This recipe calls for ground turmeric, which should be available anywhere you buy spices. But if you can find the fresh root, use that instead. You will usually find fresh turmeric near the fresh ginger at natural grocers. It can be stored in bin produce, like garlic, or in refrigerated produce, like fresh herbs.

To use fresh turmeric in the recipe, peel the thin skin off the root using the flat edge of a spoon, and grate it using an ultra-fine microplane or a rasp grater. It's more tender than ginger or even garlic and is quite easy to grate finely. Substitute 1 Tbs. of this fresh turmeric "mash" for the ground turmeric in the shrimp recipe, and sauté the spices for an extra minute.

View our Turmeric-Spiced Shrimp Over Yellow Squash Recipe

Featured Nutrient: Curcumin

Turmeric is the spice that makes Indian foods golden and gives curry its color and flavor. It's one of the most spectacularly healthy spices on the planet, largely due to its collection of active compounds known as curcuminoids. Curcumin is one of the curcuminoids.


Curcumin is great for the liver, which is ground zero for detoxification, and studies show that it has anti-tumor effects, as well. Not only is curcumin a powerful antioxidant on its own, it also boosts the actions of the body's own antioxidant enzymes. And there's evidence that curcumin can increase the body's production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a growth hormone for brain cells. Other research supports both curcumin and turmeric's use as a natural anti-inflammatory, helping to ease all types of pain.

The only problem with getting curcumin from food is that it's not well absorbed. To boost absorption, consume curcumin with fat (it's a fat-soluable compound) and combine it with black pepper (shown to increase curcumin absorption) when possible. And while it's great to use turmeric in your cooking as often as possible, to get clinically meaningful amounts of beneficial curcuminoids, you really need to supplement, which you can find as straight curcumin or as part of a turmeric supplement. -Dr. Jonny


Loaded zoodle bowl recipe

Zoodle Ramen Bowl

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