Turmeric is so much more than just a ingredient for flavouring curries!
It has extensive health-promoting properties – which people in countries around the world have both recognized and taken advantage of for many years – and may be particularly important in the diet of young children.
Today we’re looking at this richly coloured spice in a little more detail – and suggesting ways in which you can include it in your homemade baby food recipes.
Turmeric is a relatively mild spice and is related to ginger. It has a warm yellow colour which you’ll probably be familiar with due to its extensive use in curries – but it is used to colour many other foods, including some cheeses and even butter!
Turmeric contains curcumin – a polyphenol that makes it yellow. And it’s the circumin that makes turmeric so beneficial to health – indeed, there have been many studies investigating circumin’s powers!
Turmeric is revered for its anti-bacterial properties and is believed to prevent infection when sprinkled into cuts and wounds.
It’s also believed play an important role in digestion and – in some Asian countries – is taken as a supplement to help relieve stomach conditions like heartburn. This interesting article from the Bastyr Center for Natural Health describes how some cultures even find that turmeric helps with colic – and that scientific studies have demonstrated how it can help reduce intestinal inflammation.
Turmeric has powerful anti-oxidant properties, too, and may help protect the body against various forms of cancer. And in later life, the regular consumption of turmeric is believed to help lower cholesterol.
Turmeric also strengthens the immune system – in fact, its one of the ingredients we listed in this post as one of the best immunity-boosting foods, providing natural protection for your baby against some of the nasty viruses floating around these days. This may also help build your baby’s resistance to allergies.
What’s more, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties which may help reduce the symptoms of asthma – and, applied to the skin, it is even believed to help relieve eczema, too!
One of the most interesting discoveries about turmeric in terms of infant nutrition is that, it may help prevent childhood leukemia. As this 2004 article from www.leukaemia.org explains, a possible association between turmeric and lower childhood leukemia rates was made after scientists noticed that children in Asia have far less incidences of the disease. This has been connected to the fact that turmeric is much more widely used in Asian cuisine than in western cooking – and researchers have suggested that turmeric may help prevent leukemia by limiting the damage caused by environmental pollutants and other risk factors.
Using turmeric in your baby food recipes
Although turmeric may be considered useful in reducing allergic reactions, this doesn’t mean that it may not be an allergen in itself!
ALL foods – including herbs and spices – have the potential to trigger an allergic reaction, so it’s important to
- Speak to your doctor before introducing turmeric to your baby
- Treat turmeric as you would any new food and introduce it to your baby by adding it to foods your baby is already safely enjoying. Observe the four day rule and do not introduce any other new foods at the same time – then it will be easy to tell if the turmeric has caused any allergic reaction or tummy upset in your child.
You can – of course – use turmeric in your curry baby food recipes, but here are a few more ideas…
- Try adding it to applesauce for a sweet/savoury flavour – it’s surprisingly good!
- Stir a little into baby’s veggie purees.
- Mix turmeric with natural yogurt and cumin for a simple but healthy dip.
- Add to the cooking water to give rice an interesting new colour!
Turmeric stains just about everything it touches! Cover the carpets when you’re serving baby food containing turmeric – and why not try what WE do? Just set aside one bib for highly coloured baby foods (we call it our curry bib!). Despite thorough washing, it’s irrevocably stained – so now we have one ruined bib which comes out every time curry (or beets!) are on the menu!
Do you use turmeric in your homemade baby food recipes? Have you experienced for yourself the benefits of consuming this spice? Please do leave your comments!