Remind yourself of the plethora of health benefits (immune-boosting! anti-inflammatory!) of powerhouse spices turmeric and ginger, with delicious recipes from chef Suzy Scherr and dietitian Rachel Beller.
Meals that optimize health are often considered boring. Tasteless tofu, bland beans, and gutless grains just don’t bring about any joy or culinary inspiration. But eating for good health can be one of the great pleasures of life, and it often begins with cooking at home, as creating meals gives you complete control over what enters your body.
Whether or not you already consider yourself a culinary artist, you will feel you deserve to appoint yourself the top chef of your own kitchen when you begin to incorporate a wider variety of spices into your cooking.
Two of the most basic and versatile spices, ginger and turmeric, are also two that offer significant health benefits, particularly when consistently included in your diet (but don’t overdo it—you can have too much of a good thing).
Relatives from the root family Zingiberaceae, ginger and turmeric are easily accessed (either dried and ground, or fresh), and their myriad health benefits are backed by a significant amount of research.
Suzy Scherr, chef, culinary instructor, and author, writes lovingly of the many benefits of these two spices in her recent book, The Ginger and Turmeric Companion:
“Ginger has been used in folk medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and ayurveda, and among its potent benefits are improved circulation, strengthened immunity, and defense against motions sickness. The oils in ginger are antiviral and contain antioxidants. Plus, ginger stimulates digestion and aids in transforming and transporting the fluids in the body. Turmeric ... brightens skin, reduces inflammation, and even combats fatigue. It can improve digestion, support liver detoxification, [and] boost circulation.”
Ginger is generally fast-acting, while turmeric takes a little longer to start working its magic, which is one of the reasons these two make such a good pair. The active component in turmeric, curcumin, which is responsible for the root's anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, is absorbed by the body most effectively when combined with black pepper and some form of healthy fat.
If you can’t find fresh ginger or turmeric rhizomes, Scherr writes that, in most cases, the dried version can be used instead. She offers this ratio when you are substituting:
“1 inch fresh rhizome = 1 tablespoon grated rhizome = 1 teaspoon ground (dried) spice.”
Conveniently, you can also have cold-pressed frozen turmeric and ginger cubes delivered to your door.
So, how do you start incorporating these powerhouse spices into your culinary creations? Here are some of our favorite recipes from famed chef Suzy Scherr and dietitian Rachel Beller to get you started. Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment—or to add them to your weekly cooking rotation.
With a squad of anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting ingredients such as herbs, spices, and vitamin C-rich citrus, this wellness tonic is a nutrient-dense powerhouse that packs a punch and will stop your cold dead in its tracks.
Get the recipe for Cold Fighting Wellness Tonic.
Turmeric, mellow white miso, ginger, and a few other flavorful friends come together in a gorgeous, vibrant dressing that you’ll love drizzled on salad—but don’t be surprised if you find that you can’t stop there.
Get the recipe for White Miso, Turmeric, and Ginger Dressing.
Perfect as a light lunch or dinner, the superstar seed quinoa shines when cooked with turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon. This recipe stores well, so keep it on hand when you’re feeling uninspired by your role as head chef.
Get the recipe for Immune-Support Yellow Quinoa.
We could all use a little comfort food these days, and if healthy comfort food sounds like an oxymoron, consider cooking up a pot of this curry for your next dinner or lunch.
Get the recipe for Anti-Inflammatory Chickpea Curry.
This chewy chocolate cookie benefits from a triple dose of ginger: ground, fresh, and crystallized—perfect for an after-dinner digestive aid or enjoyed any time of day.
Get the recipe for Chewy Triple-Ginger Chocolate Cookies.