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Main Course

Turmeric-Spiced Shrimp Over Yellow Squash

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

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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 (aka “zoodles”).

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.

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-soluble 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.

Serves 4


  • 2 medium yellow squash or zucchini, stemmed
  • 1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 small cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ tsp. cracked black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. cardamom
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1½ lbs. raw medium shrimp, peeled and deveined (fresh or frozen, thawed)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley, optional


  1. Grate squash by hand or with grating
  2. attachment on food processor (this is easiest if you slice squash in half lengthwise and feed halves through the opening).
  3. Heat 1 Tbs. oil in large sauté pan over medium heat, and add shredded squash. Season with salt and pepper to taste, cover, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove lid, stir, and test for tenderness. Drain off any accumulated liquids, and continue cooking for another minute or so until tender, if necessary.
  4. While squash is cooking, heat remaining 2 tsp. oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add spices, and sauté 1 minute,
  5. or until very fragrant.
  6. Stir in tomatoes and shrimp, and cook until shrimp are just cooked through. Stir in the cilantro or parsley, if using, and serve shrimp over squash “pasta.”

Nutrition Information

  • Serving Size 1 serving
  • Calories 250
  • Carbohydrate Content 10 g
  • Cholesterol Content 275 mg
  • Fat Content 7 g
  • Fiber Content 2 g
  • Protein Content 37 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 1 g
  • Sodium Content 670 mg
  • Sugar Content 6 g
  • Trans Fat Content 0 g
  • Unsaturated Fat Content 0 g