Last week I did an exercise in transparency with my work team. Part of it required that we select a picture from a stack of stock photos that would be an appropriate cover for each of our autobiographies. I selected a photo of five smiling individuals in a white water raft envisioning the story that I would write about my own family and the adventure that we call life. One of my colleagues selected a photo of roots and I was touched by his description of his efforts to leave a legacy and to establish roots that would matter and that would last. He spoke of both his family and his community in a way that was passionate and authentic.
In creating my own legacy and in working to inspire my home full of boys to better nutrition and health, turmeric is one of the roots that I’ve introduced to them. It is pungent, colorful and both easy and difficult to use. I was first introduced to the qualities of turmeric during my own breast cancer battle. Turmeric can be described as spicy, bitter or warming. It looks a lot like ginger root but is smaller and bright orange in color. This color is one of the reasons that it requires some care in the kitchen as one can quickly stain fingers, counter tops and utensils. In fact, it is turmeric that gives yellow mustard its color. Turmeric is the root of the Curcuma longa plant and has been used throughout history as a textile dye, a condiment and as healing substance. It is known to be a powerful anti-inflammatory so much so that it has shown promise for individuals with rhuematoid arthritis. In addition, several prominent studies have shown it to inhibit cancer cell growth. Beyond it’s use as a superfood, I enjoy it because it is remarkably high in iron. Just 7 grams thrown into my morning smoothie offers more than 15 percent of my daily iron requirements – something that I find hard to achieve.
Turmeric is a tropical plant, and can be grown outdoors in zones 9 or warmer.
Turmeric is widely used in Indian cooking and in my opinion, can work to prevent winter colds better than chicken soup ever could. Rasam is a Southern Indian soup that is made with toor dal (yellow split peas). This is a light soup perfect for the thermos as we approach winter.
adapted from Vegetarian Times
- ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
- ⅔ cup dry toor dal
- 1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
- 2 serrano chiles, stemmed, seeded, and minced
- 1 14.5-oz. can plum tomatoes, drained and diced
- ¾ tsp salt
- 1 Tbs butter
- 1 tsp brown mustard seeds
- ½ tsp asafetida powder
- 1 hot dried red chile, halved
- ½ tsp ground cumin
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- Chopped cilantro, for garnish
Combine toor dal with 4 cups water and turmeric in a saucepan. Bring the peas to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 45 minutes until the peas are soft. Transfer to blender and blend until smooth. Measure, and return to saucepan. Add enough water to make 5 cups.
Stir in ginger, serrano chiles, tomatoes, and salt, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, heat butter in skillet over medium heat. Add mustard seeds, asafetida powder, red chile, cumin, and pepper. Cover and heat 1 to 2 minutes, or until mustard seeds begin to pop. Pour into soup. Remove soup from heat, and stir in lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.
This soup is for tomorrow night’s dinner so head over to the facebook page to see photos in the next couple of days.
In what ways and with whom do you establish roots?