Our focus this month: Turmeric!
Welcome to the first blog post on our new website, where we profile some of the
world’s most amazing, delicious and life enhancing foods. The Living Food Lab team
believes strongly in the restorative power of organic whole foods and has made it our
mission to get people to think, talk about and understand their food choices better.
To your health!
Turmeric is a glorious ingredient! This is no shy or subtle spice. Its vibrant yellow
orange color seems to blast an announcement of its strong flavor and abundant
medicinal qualities. A rhizome in the ginger family, turmeric is as earthy as the soil it is
pulled from, with a peppery, warm and mildly bitter flavor and a fragrance slightly
reminiscent of orange and ginger. Turmeric grows plentifully in hot, wet climates such
as Bali’s and is a major ingredient in Indonesian health tonics and cuisine.
Turmeric’s bright orange color indicates that it contains a high degree of beta
carotene, the compound our bodies use to make vitamin A. Turmeric is an excellent
source of both iron and manganese, vitamin B6, dietary fiber and potassium.
Turmeric has been harvested for over 5,000 years; since the Biblical era turmeric has
fragranced perfumes, spiced food and dyed clothing, and its scientific name, curcuma,
is derived from Arabic. Written records of its use in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic
medicine go back almost 1,500 years. Native to Indonesia and southern India — in
fact the bright red forehead mark worn by some Hindu women was originally created
by mixing turmeric with lime juice — turmeric has long been a part of the medicinal
and culinary culture of the region. The list of health benefits turmeric provides is so
long, and the scientific research so vastly documented, it is hard to do it justice in this
brief introduction. Suffice it to say that turmeric offers abundant gifts to our bodies as
a powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and
anticancer agent with the potential to address numerous chronic illnesses.
Indonesians even use turmeric topically on cuts ands sores due to its antiseptic
OK! OK! How can I eat more of this stuff?
Ready to up the intake of turmeric in your diet? Here are some easy and tasty ideas to
bring fresh, raw turmeric into your meals!
In Bali turmeric is easy to find. Large mounds of turmeric are available in the pasar, or
local traditional markets. Every little roadside stand, or warung, carries turmeric and
the grocery stores always have a supply of fresh turmeric as well. Ask for kunyit.
Turmeric is becoming increasingly available in the US and Europe; many health food
stores carry it in the produce section and fresh turmeric is often easy to find in Asian
markets. When purchasing, look for turmeric roots that are not shriveled and have a
vibrant yellow-orange color when broken open. Store your fresh turmeric in a cool,
dark place or in the fridge where it will last for at least a week, and often much longer.
Although it does not hold its rich yellow color in the sun, turmeric has been long used
as a dying agent. Just look at your fingers when cutting raw turmeric and you’ll
immediately be aware of its potency as a dye. (Try white vinegar for color
This is a centuries-old Indonesian recipe for a jamu, or healthy elixer. Throughout
Indonesia jamu gendong (those who, literally, carry medicinal drinks) wake up early in
the morning to purchase ingredients at a traditional market and prepare their healing
tonics. The jamu gendong pour their special liquids into various recycled bottles, cart
the tonics in a bamboo basket on their back, and travel a regular route on foot selling
their jamu door to door.
100g fresh turmeric, juiced, or finely grated and strained
100ml fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons raw honey
Juice the turmeric and the limes. Mix with honey. Add cold or warm
water to your desired dilution. Stir and drink!
Creamy Yellow Salad Dressing
Salads are our favorite food! Toss this dressing with a mixture of salad greens and
freshly sliced raw vegetables.
1/2 cup, or 120 mL, sesame oil
1/4 cup, or 90 mL, virgin olive oil
1/4 cup, or 120 mL, apple cider vinegar (replace with white vinegar if necessary)
juice of 2 limes
3cm piece of turmeric, chopped
1cm piece of ginger, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tahini (use raw tahini if possible)
1 teaspoon sea salt
Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth for a creamy, pourable
dressing. If a blender is not available, make sure you have chopped everything
quite fine and then whisk with a fork or a wire whisk.
Living Cauliflower “Couscous’
1 medium sized head of cauliflower
1/3 cup, or 80 mL, of turmeric juice (just push turmeric through a juicer, skin and
all, or finely grate a 6-7 cm piece of turmeric and mix with water)
1/3 cup, or 80 mL, olive oil
juice of one lemon
1 handful of fresh cilantro, destemmed and chopped
1 handful of fresh mint, destemmed and chopped
1 handful of fresh basil, destemmed and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 cup, or 120 mL, green beans, chopped (metric)
2 cups, or 1/2 L, cherry tomatoes, quartered (may substitute roma or heirloom)
2 small shallots, chopped (may substitute red onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
sea salt to taste
Roughly chop the cauliflower and pulse in a food processor briefly until the
pieces resemble rice (or keep chopping if you don’t have a food processor). Do
not over process or you will have mush. Place cauliflower in large mixing bowl
and add the turmeric, lemon juice, olive oil, sea salt and toss. Stir in vegetables
and herbs. Chill.
Enjoy this Living Cauliflower “Couscous” with a salad of many mixed greens such
as romaine, kale, arugula, dandelion greens and chard, tossed in the dressing
above, for a tasty and healthy raw food meal. Let thy food be thy medicine and
let thy medicine be delicious!
The Living Food Lab is a teaching kitchen serving nutrient-rich, living food to a
growing community of global sustainability leaders in Bali, Indonesia.
We prepare freshly harvested, locally sourced, organically grown, living food meals;
promote conscious eating; and educate people of all ages about the power of their
Visit us at The Green School– recently recognized as the Greenest School on Earth!
(www.greenschool.org). Or, find us on Facebook at /livingfoodlab