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Many years ago there was a restaurant in Philadelphia called the Frog Commissary. They published a cookbook that has some of the most wonderful and creative curry recipes. (Turmeric is a main ingredient in many curry blends.) Prior to finding this book, I’d associated curry with heavy dishes and sauces.

Not any more! Now I love all sorts of curries. I often keep some curried vinaigrette on hand for a quick and satisfying lentil veggie salad. Sometimes I make custom blends; sometimes I use a store bought product. Read on to see how curry can spice up your diet, and add significant anti-cancer properties to your daily food.

About Turmeric and Curry

This is the first of several articles on the spices related to curry. Curry is a generic name for an unlimited number of spice combinations, most of which include turmeric.

Turmeric is a spice often used in Mediterranean, African and Asian cuisines. It is a root as shown above, which can be used fresh (Whole Foods often carries fresh tumeric), but it is most often used as a dried spice in powder form. It’s distinctive yellow color is often associated with various curries. It also provides the yellow coloring in ballpark mustard!

This first article is to introduce what may be a new spice or flavor for many people. Simply give it a try.

I’ve included some very easy ways to add turmeric to your regular diet. As you become more comfortable with these flavors, you’ll be able to create new ways of combining healthy, anti-cancer foods. We’ll also be tasting and discussing curry flavors at our Club meetings.

Why Cook With Turmeric?

Turmeric, and specifically curcumin, is often cited for its anti-inflammatory properties.

According to Memorial Sloan Kettering – How It Works:

It has been deduced that substances in turmeric (called curcuminoids) prevent inflammation by inhibiting the molecules that mediate inflammatory reactions.

Curcuminoids may protect the body in a few ways: they enhance the activity of an important detoxifying enzyme and they also act as antioxidants by neutralizing free radicals (which can cause DNA damage).

And according to research done by David Servan-Schrieber, MD, PhD:

“Turmeric is the most powerful natural anti-inflammatory identified today. It also helps stimulate apoptosis in cancer cells and inhibit angiogenesis. In the laboratory, it enhances the effectiveness of chemotherapy and reduces tumor growth.” (from Anticancer A New Way of Life)

Turmeric needs to be consumed with black pepper in order to be assimilated by the body. Pepper increases the body’s absorption of tumeric by 2,000 percent, and is best achieved by including turmeric in your cooking, preferably dissolved in olive, canola or linseed oil, according to Servan-Schreiber.

If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, under Additional Bibiliography, you’ll find a number of links and videos discussing turmeric and curcumim. Some are a bit lengthy and the TED talk has previously appeared in the blog. Please take some time to learn more about this potentially powerful food as it relates to cancer.

Easy Recipes to Use with Turmeric

Experiment and sample a few different curry blends. Try adding your favorite curry to sauteed vegetables; to eggs; to salads; to brown rice; in soups and in sauces. To start, try some of these very easy ideas:

Grilled Mussels with Curry Butter

Fish Curry

Pat’s Fried Eggs with Curry

Fry up your eggs* (in organic butter or a light olive oil) and sprinkle curry powder and freshly ground black pepper on top. Enjoy!

For this recipe, I often use a pre-made Madras Curry blend which is readily available in most supermarkets. It’s mild and is a perfect complement to many egg, chicken and vegetable dishes.

*Organic eggs are preferable due to their omega 3 fatty acids.

Pat’s Cold Curried Squash Soup

1. Saute a large thinly sliced organic sweet onion until soft.
2. Add curry powder (Trader Joe’s has a mix that is very nice and not too hot), ground pepper and salt. For amounts on the curry powder, I add a tablespoon or two, but you’ll have to use your judgement on how much suits your taste. If in doubt, go for a spicier flavor; when it cools, the flavor is somewhat subdued.
3. Add 3-4 large yellow squash sliced into half inch pieces. Mix ingredients well in the stock pot.
4. Add (organic) chicken stock (Costco has a good organic stock at a great price) to cover the vegetables and a bit of chopped cilantro. Simmer until the squash is tender.
5. Blend, chill and serve.
You can also add a bit of (organic) heavy cream to the chilled soup if you like. I passed on the calories and dairy.

Be sure to taste the soup and add a bit of salt and pepper as needed before serving. Some garlic or ginger might also be a great addition if you want to be a bit more creative!

Pat’s Roasted Curried Cauliflower (Everyone Loves This One!)

Break a head of cauliflower into flowerettes. Toss in olive oil and curry and add some freshly ground black pepper and a small amount of sea salt. Bake in a 375 degree oven (about 20 minutes) until crisp on the outside and tender inside. Enjoy!

Additional Bibliography:

Scientific Research from PubMed: PubMed.gov

From Men’s Health, a look at turmeric: Tumeric-Super-Cure?

From WHFoods.com: Turmeric

This TED talk also appears in the blog. If you haven’t seen this, IT IS A MUST WATCH.

Scientific Detail on Curcumin:

 

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