Marie F. Steinmetz, MD, is a member of Inova Steinmetz Integrative and Functional Medicine Center board certified in family medicine. She has a special interest in management of fatigue and gastrointestinal problems. Read Dr. Steinmetz’s profile.
Turmeric, the bold yellow-orange spice that adds color to your curry, has been a staple of Indian cuisine for millennia. Long used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, we are now confirming in the laboratory the many health benefits of this member of the ginger family.
Turmeric and one of its components curcumin have anti-inflammatory properties and help relieve the joint pain of arthritis. It packs a wallop of anti-oxidants and helps scavenge the free radicals that lead to oxidative stress and inflammation. And it can help preserve memory and cognitive function. Epidemiologists propose that the reason people in India aged 70-79 have one fourth the rate of Alzheimer’s disease compared to the same population in the United States is because of the inclusion of turmeric in the daily diet in India. This nutritional powerhouse also helps regulate digestion and bowel function. And there are clear indications of anti-viral, antibacterial, anti-fungal and anti-cancer properties as well.
Turmeric is a great health-enhancing spice to add to your daily diet. Try out the recipe below. Or, to use it to address a health problem, you can take supplements. The formulation should include piperine, an extract of black pepper that enhances absorption. We have a turmeric supplement from a trusted manufacturer containing purified turmeric with the appropriate pepper extract to improve absorption.
So go ahead, spice up your life. Your body will thank you for it.
Curried Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
1 1/2 lbs ground lamb
2 Tbs vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
2 Tbs finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet red pepper
1 Tbs curry powder
1 1/2 tsp ground tumeric
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 egg lightly beaten
4 1/2 Tbs finely chopped fresh coriander (also known as cilantro)
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 1/2 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp dried, hot red-pepper flakes
1 tsp paprika
2 cups canned tomatoes
1/2 cup unflavored yogurt
Heat 1 Tbs of oil in a skillet and add one cup of the chopped onions, one Tbs of the chopped garlic and the chopped peppers. Cook, stirring until onions are wilted. Sprinkle with curry powder, and 1/2 tsp each of the tumeric, ground coriander, and cumin. Cook, stirring about one minute. Let cool. Add the egg and 1 1/2 Tbs of the fresh coriander.
In mixing bowl, combine lamb and onion/spice mixture. Add salt and pepper. Combine well and shape the mixture into 10 to 12 equal portions. Shape into balls and place on greased baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 400°. Remove from oven.
Heat remaining 1 Tbs of oil in sauce pan and add the remaining three-quarter cup of onions and the 1 Tbs of garlic. Cook, stirring until onions are wilted. Sprinkle with remaining one tsp each of tumeric, ground coriander and cumin. Add ginger, red pepper flakes and paprika and stir.
Puree canned tomatoes in food processor or blender. Add tomatoes to the saucepan and bring mixture to a boil. Let simmer 5 minutes and add the meatballs. Cover and let simmer 30 minutes. Skim off and discard any surface fat. Stir in the yogurt and remaining fresh coriander. Bring to a boil and serve hot with cooked rice.