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Used for more than 5,000 years, turmeric is native to southern Asia and known as a major ingredient in curry recipes. This spice has been trending from food magazines to talk shows to social media, but what’s all the buzz about?

Turmeric is a member of the same family as ginger and cardamom. Like ginger, turmeric is grown for it’s rhizomes, which are the edible root structure grown underground. Besides it’s flavoring of food, turmeric is known for many health benefits.

Curcumin is an active compound in turmeric, which is a powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants have the power to prevent conditions, such as cancer. Curcumin is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be particularly helpful for those with osteoarthritis, and it’s been studied for its use in regulating blood sugars in those with diabetes. It’s no wonder people are swarming over this trendy spice!

Use this bright yellow spice in curry dishes, soups or in recipes using lentils or other legumes. Sprinkle ground turmeric over cooked vegetables or in the cheese sauce of macaroni and cheese. Stir it into hot tea or smoothies. There are many ways to experiment with this nutritional spice!

Spiced Beef and Cabbage

2 small shallots or 1 small onion, thinly sliced

1 pound lean ground beef

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon ground red cayenne pepper

4 cups finely shredded cabbage (about half a medium head)

3 medium tomatoes, quartered

⅓ cup unsalted peanuts

1 cup dry brown rice, cooked

Heat a large stockpot over medium heat. Add onions and beef. Cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is browned and crumbled. Drain excess fat from beef and return mixture to pot. Stir in salt, turmeric, and ground red pepper until combined. Spread cabbage and tomatoes on top of beef mixture. Cover pot with lid and cook undisturbed for 5-10 minutes (cabbage will start to wilt). Stir cabbage and tomatoes into beef mixture to combine. Continue to cook another 10 minutes uncovered, or until cabbage reaches desired softness. Spoon beef mixture over cooked rice and sprinkle with peanuts.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition facts (per serving): 320 calories, 18 grams fat, 680 milligrams sodium, 14 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 28 grams protein

Recipe written by Caitlin Huth, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition and weellness educator serving DeWitt, Macon, and Piatt counties.

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Smith is nutrition and wellness educator for the University of Illinois Extension, McLean County. Contact her at 309-663-8306. 

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