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Spice Watch: Turmeric

This root spice has a wealth of health properties

It’s time to shake up your spice rack, and pull out that bottle of turmeric. The root spice with a warm, slightly bitter flavor is a main component in curry spice, and it is the ingredient that gives cheeses, mustards and butter their golden color. More than just making foods tasty, however, turmeric has been shown to relieve pain, aid digestion and fight inflammation.

One study, published in the Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, found that curcumin, the active component of turmeric, was as effective as ibuprofen at relieving knee pain. Other studies show the spice, eaten daily for a month, can ease symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and soothe skin conditions like eczema.

To get the most out of turmeric’s benefits, use it in recipes that also call for pepper, which promotes the absorption of turmeric into the bloodstream.

Tandoori Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

1/2 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 tablespoons water

Preheat grill for high heat. In a medium bowl, mix curry powder, red pepper flakes, salt, ginger, paprika, cinnamon and turmeric with water to form a paste. Rub paste onto chicken breasts and place them on a plate. Cover and let marinate for 20 minutes. Brush grill grate with oil. Place chicken on the grill. Cook 6 to 8 minutes on each side, until juices run clear when pierced with a fork. Serves 4.

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Nutrition analysis: 264 calories; 134 mg cholesterol; .4 g fiber; 358 mg sodium; .7 g carbohydrates; 5.8 g fat; 49.1 g protein

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