Cooking with Turmeric

turmericArthur’s Residential Care strives to have interesting and great tasting meals that also provide key nutritional support for the people in our care.  One ingredient we recommend including on a regular basis is turmeric—a spice native to Southern India and Indonesia that contains curcumin.  Many people recognize curcumin as the bright yellow-orange color and mellow, peppery flavor in curry and mustard.

Why Turmeric?

The health benefits of turmeric’s principal compound, curcumin, are being studied at UCLA, the University of Texas, Loyola University and other research centers around the world.  It is one of the most researched of all spice compounds and is cited as one of the top five antioxidant foods you can eat to help prevent conditions associated with free radical damage.  Scientific evidence indicates turmeric’s powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor properties have potential for  the treatment and prevention of a wide range of health issues including breast cancer and other cancers, as well as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease, arthritis, MS and high cholesterol.

Turmeric and Alzheimer’s

Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is showing great potential in its ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and inhibit the accumulation of beta amyloid plaques and possibly even break up existing plaques in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s. Curcumin’s chelating properties enable it to assist in the removal of toxic metals from the brain which are also associated with Alzheimers and other diseases.

Turmeric has a long history of medicinal uses in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine.  It is emerging in Western medicine as one of nature’s most powerful healers.  We hope these ideas and recipes will help you enjoy the benefits of turmeric.

How to Use Turmeric

To get the full benefits turmeric has to offer, use fresh, certified organic turmeric powder, available in the spice section of grocery stores.  Add turmeric to your favorite dishes:

  • Sprinkle turmeric on chicken, beef, pork or fish and sauté or bake.
  • Add a teaspoon or two to chili, soups, tomato sauces, and taco meat.
  • Mix it into egg salad, tuna salad, potato salad, dips and salsa.
  • Mix it into mayonnaise and spread it on a sandwich.
  • Sprinkle turmeric and cinnamon on winter squash, dot with butter and bake.
  • Sprinkle turmeric, cumin salt and pepper onto cauliflower and roast it.
  • Add it to your favorite cookie, cake or muffin recipe—it works especially well in recipes with chocolate, ginger, cinnamon and pumpkin spice.

Use your imagination!  For more recipes and ideas see below.

 The information shared here is not intended as medical advice or treatment, but only to raise awareness of current research as well as possible new treatment options you can explore in partnership with a qualified health care professional. The benefits and risks of all treatment options should be discussed with a qualified healthcare professional before implementation. Turmeric may be contraindicated if liver toxicity is a concern.

For further reference, Google the words  ”turmeric and Alzheimer’s” to find articles such as these:

Neuroprotective Effects of Curcumin, Greg M. ColeBruce Teter, and Sally A. Frautschy, Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research at UCLA, 2008,

 Scientists Pinpoint How Vitamin D May Help Clear Amyloid Plaques Found in Alzheimer’s, ScienceDaily (Mar. 6, 2012)

Neuroprotective and neurorescue effects of a novel polymeric nanoparticle formulation of curcumin (NanoCurc™) in the neuronal cell culture and animal model: implications for Alzheimer’s disease, Ray BBisht SMaitra AMaitra ALahiri DK., Institute of Psychiatric Research, Indiana University School of Medicine, 2011,

The Health Benefits of Turmeric, Dr. Keith Scott, MD,

Eating curry every week ‘could prevent dementia’, Press Release from the Royal Academy of Psychiatry, 2009,

Three Reasons to Eat Turmeric, Dr. Andrew Weil, MD,

Vitamin D3 and curcumin synergistically clear brain tangles to help prevent Alzheimer’s dementia, John Philip, 2012

The effect of curcumin (turmeric) on Alzheimer’s disease: An overview, Shrikant Mishra and Kalpana Palanivelo, Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, 2008,;year=2008;volume=11;issue=1;spage=13;epage=19;aulast=Mishra;type=0



The following recipes all have the option of being gluten-free, grain free and low-carb.


Curried Hummus

  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ jalapeno pepper, seeded (optional)
  • Dash salt

Process all ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Serve with warm pita bread or fresh vegetables.

Turmeric Vegetable Dip

  • 1 cup soaked cashews
  • 1 cup coconut flesh (or flaked coconut)
  • ¼ cup coconut water, fresh or canned
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • Cut up vegetables for dipping such as carrots, cucumbers, cauliflower, etc.

Place all ingredients except vegetables in a food processor and process until smooth.  This will take a bit and you will need to stop and scrape down the sides occasionally. Serve in a bowl for dipping or piped on cucumber rounds for a fancy presentation.

Main Dishes

Basic Curry Sauce with Chicken, Beef or Turkey

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2-4 teaspoons curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 pounds cooked diced chicken or beef, or ground beef or ground turkey
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup broth or water
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk

Sauté the oil, onion and garlic in a heavy, deep skillet or kettle for 3-5 minutes until the onion is translucent. Blend lemon juice, curry powder and turmeric in a small bowl, then stir it into sautéed onions and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add cooked chicken or beef and stir fry briefly to coat with spices. Add tomato sauce, salt, broth and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve over sautéed or steamed vegetables or rice.

Zucchini Lasagna with Turmeric

A low-carb, gluten-free, grain-free alternative to pasta.

  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise in ¼ inch slices
  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1-2 teaspoons turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 cups crushed or diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
  • 1 6 –ounce can tomato paste
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 egg
  • ¾ cup cottage cheese or ricotta
  • 6-8 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

Sauté the oil, onion and garlic in a heavy, deep skillet for 3-5 minutes until the onion is translucent.  Stir the turmeric, oregano, basil and thyme into the sautéed onions and cook for 1-2 minutes more.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste and bring to a boil, then reduce hit and simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes to reduce the liquid.

While the sauce is simmering, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  In a small bowl, beat the egg slightly, then mix in the cottage cheese and half of the shredded cheese.

Oil the bottom of an 8×8 dish and begin layering the lasagna: put 1/3 of the meat mixture on the bottom, then 1/2 of the sliced zucchini, then all of the cottage cheese mixture, then another 1/3 of the meat mixture, another layer of zucchini, then the rest of the meat mixture.  Bake uncovered for 40 minutes, then sprinkle the remaining mozzarella on top and bake 10 more minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Moroccan Chicken with Riced Cauliflower

  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil (or other oil)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 whole cloves, crushed (or about ¼ to ½  teaspoon ground cloves)
  • ¾  teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs (about 1 ½ pounds), cut in bite-size pieces
  • 1(14 to 16 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 (14 to 16 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3-4 cups of chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • salt to taste

1 bag (12-16 ounces) frozen cauliflower or a head of fresh cauliflower (for the riced cauliflower)

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil and sauté the onion until tender. Add cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes and cook another minute, then add the chicken and sauté until well browned. Add garbanzo beans, tomatoes, broth and bay leaf to the pot, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer 25 minutes.  Then add carrots, zucchini and celery into pot, season with salt and continue cooking about 10 minutes until vegetables are tender. Serve as a stew over riced cauliflower.

To rice the cauliflower: Cook the cauliflower according to package directions. Drain off any cooking liquid, then place the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it looks to be about similar size to rice. As an alternative you can mash the cauliflower with a potato masher.

Slow Cooker Tomato Basil Turmeric Soup

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or other oil
  • 2 medium sweet onions, finely diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3  28-ounce cans tomatoes (or about 9 cups fresh tomatoes, diced)
  • 1 quart broth
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 10-15 basil leaves (or 1 ½ teaspoons dried basil)
  • Freshly grated Parmesan (optional)

Sauté the oil, onion and garlic in a heavy, deep skillet or kettle for 3-5 minutes until the onion is translucent.  Stir the pepper flakes and turmeric into the sautéed onions and continue cooking for 1-2 minutes.   Transfer sautéed onions and seasonings to a slow cooker and add tomatoes, broth, carrots and basil.  Cover and cook on low for 5-7 hours.

As an alternative, cook it on the stovetop by adding the tomatoes, broth carrots and basil into the deep skillet or kettle in which the onions were sautéed, cover and bring to a slow boil, then turn the heat down low and simmer gently for 30-40 minutes.

When the vegetables are soft, puree with a handheld blender, or allow the soup to cool slightly, then puree in batches in a blender. Garnish with more fresh basil and grated Parmesan cheese. Makes about 3 ½ quarts of soup.

Turmeric Spiced Stuffed Eggplant

  • ½ cup brown rice
  • 1¼ cups water
  • 2 medium eggplants
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 12 ounces ground beef or turkey
  • 1 tablespoon ground paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 -1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bring rice and water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer gently until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, 30-40 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let stand covered for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut eggplants in half lengthwise and score the cut sides in a deep criss-cross pattern, almost to but not cutting through the skin.  Brush the cut sides generously with 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons oil.  Brush the skin sides lightly with 1 teaspoon oil.  Place the eggplants cut-side down on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Flip the eggplants and bake until soft. 15-20 minutes more.  Remove and set aside.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F.

To make the filling, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add onion.  Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt and sauté until the onion starts to soften, 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring for 1 minute more.  Add meat, paprika, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and cayenne to taste; cook, stirring and breaking up with a wooden spoon until the meat is coated with spices and no longer pink, 4-6 minutes.  Stir in tomato paste. Remove from heat.

When the eggplants are cooled enough to handle, scoop out the pulp, making sure not to tear the skin.  It’s best to leave about a ¼ inch layer of pulp attached to the skin.  Coarsely chop the scooped out pulp and add to the meat mixture.  Stir until well combined.  Stir in the cooked rice and season with the remaining teaspoon of salt and pepper.  Stuff each eggplant half with equal amounts of filling.

Return the stuffed eggplant to the baking sheet.  Bake at 350 degrees F. until heated through, about 20 minutes.

Side Dishes

Vegetable-Turmeric Quinoa

  • 1-2 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 2 cups broccoli and/or cauliflower, cut into little pieces
  • ½ cup peas
  • Sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon curry
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
  • ¾ cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water

In a saucepan place water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and add the quinoa to the hot water, and simmer until the water is absorbed and the grains become translucent and soft (about 10-15 minutes).  Pour through a strainer and set to the side in a bowl.

Heat the coconut oil (or butter) in a skillet pan.  Add the diced onions, and lightly sauté for a few minutes, adding the sea salt, curry, turmeric, and black pepper.

Add the other vegetables and lightly sauté for 5-6 minutes, until they become softened (but not overcooked).  Add the cooked quinoa and stir everything together.  Adjust flavoring as needed.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower with Turmeric and Ginger

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter), melted
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • ¼ cup green peppers, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  •  Salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Whisk together the oil, mustard seeds, green peppers, ginger and turmeric in a small bowl. Place cauliflower in a medium baking dish and toss with the flavored oil and season with salt.  Roast until lightly golden brown and just tender, 20-25 minutes.  Serve hot.

Sweet Treats

Pumpkin Spice Muffins with Praline Pecan Topping

A gluten-free, grain-free muffin unless you substitute wheat flour.  Makes 10 muffins

  • 1 ½ cups almond meal (or substitute 1 ½ cups wheat flour and add ¼ cup butter)
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup maple syrup (or substitute 2/3 cup brown sugar + 1 tablespoon water)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin (fresh baked or canned)


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or 2 tablespoons brown sugar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl combine flour or almond meal, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg, ginger and cloves. In another bowl, combine butter, syrup or sugar, eggs and pumpkin. Stir wet ingredients into dry. Place paper liners in muffin pan. Scoop batter into paper liners, filling approximately ¾ full.  Mix together the topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of muffins. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool completely before eating.

Chewy Cinnamon and Turmeric  Cookies

Makes 18 Cookies

  • ½ cup butter
  • 5 tablespoons honey (or substitute 6 tablespoons brown sugar + ½  tablespoon water)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ½ cups almond meal
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Melt butter in saucepan, turn off heat and add honey and vanilla. Mix dry ingredients in bowl, add to butter mixture and mix well. Scoop 1-2 tablespoons onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.  No need to flatten them as they will spread out during baking. Bake for 7-12 minutes, until edges are lightly browned. Allow to cool on baking sheet before moving.

Decadent Chocolate Truffles with Turmeric

  • ½ cup coconut milk solids or heavy cream
  • ¼ cup coconut oil (or butter)
  • ½ cup finely chopped dark chocolate
  • Dash salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • Raw honey, stevia, maple syrup or your sweetener of choice (optional)
  • Cacao powder or cocoa powder

Optional flavorings: vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, mint

In a small saucepan, combine the coconut milk solids and coconut oil (or butter) and heat over medium heat until wisps of steam begin to appear.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate.  Allow to sit for a couple of minutes for the chocolate to soften, then whisk until the chocolate has completely melted.  Whisk in the salt and turmeric.  Add your optional flavorings and whisk thoroughly.  Taste and adjust sweetness if desired.  Pour into a wide, shallow glass container and place into the freezer for two hours.

Once you mixture in completely solid, scoop out small spoonfuls and roll briefly between your palms to round.  Roll into raw cacao/cocoa powder that has been mixed with your preference of flavorings.  Return to the refrigerator to harden.  Store in the refrigerator.


Creamy Turmeric Tea

  • 1 cup coconut milk or real cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon honey or sugar

Gently heat milk on the stove. In a mug, mix together all other ingredients. Stir 2 tablespoons of the warm milk into the other ingredients and mix until fully combined.  Add remainder of the milk and stir until fully combined.

Ginger Turmeric Tea

  • 2 cups water
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey or sugar
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Bring water to a boil and add ground spices.  Simmer for 10 minutes. Strain tea into a mug, add maple syrup and lemon juice, stirring to combine.  Drink warm.