Now that the weather has turned cooler and we are reaching for a blanket, it’s also time to wrap our hands around a warm mug of something soothing and delicious. As a healthful change from coffee, tea, or cocoa, try Turmeric Chai. It is warming, delicious, healing, and it also might help ward off that desire to nibble on sweets in the evening, as its spicy taste and creamy texture are satisfying and filling. I have a strong pull towards a cookie or chocolate after 9:00 PM, and I enjoy this chai to improve health and curb sugar cravings.
A Healing Spice for Thousands of Years
I am sure you have read of the healing powers of turmeric, a spice used in India and across southern Asia for over 4,000 years. With its main bioactive ingredient being curcumin, it has been used in cooking, medicine, and religious ritual for thousands of years and in Ayurvedic medicine since 500 BCE. It grows as a tubular root and looks like fresh ginger, but most of us buy it as a dried spice in a jar. The distinctive bright yellow color gives it the nickname, “Indian Saffron” and has also been referred to as “Holy Powder.”
Turmeric is anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-viral. Most noteworthy, it helps to reduce blood sugar and blood pressure. In addition it heals the gut and supports the healthy balance of bacteria we need. Importantly, it has been shown to powerfully reduce pain. In addition, it has been used throughout Indian history for wound care.
How is this Spice so Powerful?
Modern diagnostic equipment has allowed scientists to study exactly how curcumin works. The molecules of curcumin behave like a biochemical disciplinarian, inserting themselves into cell membranes and making the membranes more stable and orderly, thus increasing resistance.
Easy Way to Eat Daily
If you are an adventurous cook, you’ve probably added turmeric to a curry recipe; and if you are an advocate of natural health, you may already be taking supplements. There are many ways to add turmeric to soups, curries, rice, or fermented vegetables, but for those of us who run out of time in the kitchen or aren’t serious cooks, I invite you to add turmeric into your diet regularly with this easy, delicious, warm, golden drink.
Simple recipe! Takes about 10 minutes.
2 cups of unsweetened cashew milk, unsweetened almond milk, or full fat coconut milk
3-5 slices of fresh ginger or 1 tsp powdered ginger (optional if you don’t like ginger)
1 Tblsp turmeric paste (recipe to follow)
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cardamom
Sprinkle of black pepper (makes the turmeric more bio-available)
Honey, maple syrup or stevia to taste
Heat the milk, turmeric, ginger, and spices and then simmer on low for 5-10 minutes, allowing the flavors to infuse.
Strain or remove the ginger slices.
Add sweetener of choice.
Please note: You can adjust these spices depending on your personal preference.
½ cup water
¼ cup dried turmeric
To make paste: heat water in small pan, add turmeric and stir while it is well blended. If the paste gets too thick, add a little more water. Cool. Store in a container in the fridge. Keeps about two weeks.
Please note: turmeric is bright yellow and can stain, just be mindful when making this paste that you aren’t wearing your favorite white blouse!
I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comments below to let me know what you think if it’s the first time you are trying this drink! Does this chai help ward off an evening sugar craving?
Cheppudira B, et al. Curcumin: a novel therapeutic for burn pain and wound healing. Expert Opin Investig Drugs 2013; 22(10): 1295-303.
Duke, James A. (Jim). Alternative and Complementary Therapies. November 2007, 13(5): 229-234. doi:10.1089/act.2007.13503.
Meei-Shyuan Lee, et al. Turmeric improves post-prandial working memory in pre-diabetes independent of insulin. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr., 2014;23 DOI: 10.6133/apjcn.2014.23.4.24
Taylor RA, et al. Curcumin for inflammatory bowel disease: a review of human studies. Altern Med Rev 2011; 16(2): 152-6.
 American Chemical Society. (2009, April 21). Turmeric: India’s ‘Holy Powder’ Finally Reveals Its Centuries-old Secret.