Turmeric, Curcumin, Cumin and Curry: What’s the Difference?

If you, like me, are confused about the difference between turmeric, curcumin, cumin and curry powder, this post should help.  Let’s start with turmeric.  Turmeric, also known as Indian saffron, is a plant in the ginger family, native to southeast Asia and India.  It has a bitter but warm taste and is often used to color and flavor butters, cheeses, mustards and curry powders.  Although the leaves are used to wrap and cook food  in areas where it is grown, it is the rhizomes of the turmeric plant that are ground into a powder used around the world to color and flavor food.

The root of turmeric is also used widely to make medicine to treat conditions such as heartburn, gallbladder disorders, diabetes, arthritis, stomach pain, headaches, cardiovascular disease, irritable bowel disease, lung infections, menstrual problems, depression, water retention, bronchitis, kidney infections, colds, fibromyalgia, skin inflammations, as well as both fungal and bacterial infections.  Current research is hoping to prove that turmeric is also effective against cancer.

 

Curcumin is the main component of turmeric rhizomes (roots) that donates the typical bright yellow color to turmeric and curry powders.  Be careful, it stains.  I have stained my countertop and my finger tips many times.

Cumin is the dried seeds of a herb in the parsley family, mainly grown in India as well as other tropical and subtropical, frost-free areas around the world.  The seeds are used ground or whole as a spice to give flavor and aroma to food.

 

Curry powder is a spice blend containing primarily turmeric, cumin, coriander and chili pepper.  A similar blend of spices is called garam masala in south Asia.  Some commercial blends of curry powder also contain ginger, garlic, fennel seed, mustard seed, cardamom, nutmeg, black pepper and or cinnamon.

turmeric, curcumin, cumin and curry powder
curry powder

 

Well, I learned the difference between turmeric, curcumin, cumin and curry powder while researching this post.  I hope it was helpful.  Try some of theses spices soon to add flavor and color to your cooking while preventing or treating many health issues at the same time.

 

Please be sure to visit my other blogs:

Laugh out loud (LOL) with me at YOUR DAILY CHUCKLE

and

be inspired and motivated by famous words of wisdom at WoW

My gardening website can be viewed at www.gardens4u.ca

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What’s better than your own tomato harvest?

What can get better than harvesting your own tomatoes?  Taking home someone else’s tomato harvest!  I was cleaning up a client’s garden recently and came across a few grape tomato plants in amongst the perennial flowers and shrubs. I picked them off the frost-bitten vines and left the tomatoes in the sun to dry while I finished working on the garden.  Sun dried tomatoes must need a whole lot of sun to dry them out as these grape tomatoes were still soggy and soft three hours later.  My client didn’t want to bother collecting and cleaning the tomatoes to use in her kitchen, so I brought them home with me.  I shared my bounty with another client that lives next door to the tomatoes…

I took my share of the grape tomatoes home, washed and strained them, then cooked them up in a pasta sauce for dinner…

I sauteed crushed garlic, onions, olives and turmeric in olive oil for the main ingredients, added cooked and drained pasta (gluten-free for my wheat allergy) then stirred in a beaten egg and parmesan cheese to make the sauce creamy.  I seem to use turmeric in just about everything these days, since I read it is a powerful anti-oxidant.  I would have added roasted red peppers if I had some in my fridge to roast that day.  The pasta dish was reasonably good, although I think I left too many green tomatoes in the sauce as it had a bit of a sweet and sour taste.

Natural Alternatives to Supplements and Medications

pineapple

I love reading about the recommended supplements in Dr Connealy’s newsletters, especially when the suggested supplements are aimed at symptoms I suffer from.  As we age, we cannot help but notice the changes in our bodies.  Our skin loses elasticity, gains wrinkles and loses that youthful glow.  Our internal organs, our eyes, our joints and our brains do not work as well as they used to.

My problem is, every supplement I take gives me side effects that are often worse than the original symptoms of aging.  My solution is to research foods that provide or encourage the formation of the beneficial ingredient contained in the supplement. I then incorporate these foods into my daily diet.  I realize that these supplements provide a much more concentrated form of these wonderful ingredients, but I figure every bit helps.

For example, the newsletter referred to above describes the wonders of melatonin, a hormone produced naturally in our bodies. Melatonin is responsible for enhancing our sleep so our bodies can recharge properly.  Without adequate sleep we can suffer from brain fog, muscles aches, anxiety, weight gain due to increased appetite and a weakened immune system. Check out a previous post of mine about sleep deprivation.

Unfortunately, as we age the production of melatonin is reduced.  Our options to increase melatonin are to take a supplement or to increase our intake of foods that encourage the formation of melatonin in our bodies.  These foods include pineapple, bananas, oranges, walnuts, almonds, cherry juice and dairy products.

Another wonderful ingredient recommended by Dr Connealy is curcumin which is derived from turmeric root.  I have added ground turmeric to my soups, stews, tea, smoothies and stir frys for the past few months, ever since I read that it helps relieve joint pain. Another previous post describes the benefits of curcumin or turmeric.   I believe that I have noticed a reduction in joint pain associated with arthritis.  This is even more significant for me this time of year since the cold weather usually brings an increase in arthritis symptoms.

To see if I can increase melatonin production naturally, I plan to experiment for the next while, making myself a smoothie before bedtime using pineapple, banana, orange, almond milk, cherry juice and yogurt.  I will keep you posted!

The Joys of Juicing….Revisited

 

 

One of my first posts on this blog was  http://lorieb.com/2012/01/16/the-joys-of-juicing/ about the smoothies or “milkshakes” as my sons call them.

Two years later, with one son moved out and another very rarely home, I still make smoothies a few times a week.  My current favorite ingredients are mostly green; baby spinach, cucumber, lemon juice, avocado, green tea, turmeric and ginger.

These ingredients ensure I get my “greens” targeting my individual health concerns, but the combination tastes great too. Spinach is an anti-inflammatory, an anti-oxidant, full of vitamins A and K, with anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits. Cucumbers help remove toxins from your body, are full of vitamin B, and help fight joint pain/stiffness.  Lemon juice increases your body alkalinity (see http://lorieb.com/2013/06/16/your-blood-ph-keep-it-alkaline/ ) and removes toxins from your body. Avocados offer omega 3s (the good fat) and make the smoothie creamy. Turmeric and ginger are good for joint stiffness and pain.  Green tea also contains anti-oxidants, improves brain function and enables fat loss.

To make your smoothie, blend all solid ingredients and spices until very smooth.  Add the liquids and pulse until creamy.  I never measure the ingredients, but  1/2 cup spinach, one cucumber, 1/4 avocado, 1/4 cup lemon juice, two tablespoons each of ginger and turmeric, and one large cup of green tea should do the trick.   This makes a blender full, so I drink half of it in the morning and save the rest for later in the day.  You can adjust the taste to suit your palate with more juice or spice.  If it is not creamy enough for you or too sharp tasting, add some greek yogurt.  Be adventurous and make up your own recipe!

Lorieb is an avid gardener and reader from Kanata, Ontario, Canada. Please visit her website at www.gardens4u.ca to read about the gardening services she provides in her area, as well as her off season interests.