Do you ever feel like your body needs a break? Maybe you’re working out too hard at the gym and not letting your muscles rest or you’re not getting enough sleep. Or maybe, you’re just eating too many damn treats and your body needs a little reset. Some people do juice cleanses for this purpose, but I’ve never been a fan of juice cleanses. First of all, I would have to pee constantly if I were just drinking liquid all day long. Second of all, I’m not keen on drinking lots of sugar without much fiber, even if it is natural forms of sugar. And finally, I like solid food. A lot.
But, just because I don’t like juice cleanses, it doesn’t mean that I don’t like a good liquid beverage from time to time. I mean, I drink wine every day, but today I’m talking about a non-alcoholic beverage. A healthy golden turmeric tonic.
Health Benefits of Turmeric
All of the ingredients in this tonic boast a wide array of health benefits, from immune-boosting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties to vitamins and metabolism-boosters. Let’s talk about turmeric first.
The main active ingredient in turmeric is curcumin, which has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. I learned this as a child when my sister sprained her ankle while we were playing dodgeball, and my aunt–instead of applying an elastic bandage or wrap, as we Westerners tend to do–made a turmeric paste and generously lathered it on my sister’s ankle. #easternmedicine
Turmeric is also an antioxidant superstar. This is because curcumin not only blocks damage-causing free radicals in the body but it also stimulates the body’s own antioxidant mechanisms.
How to Increase the Bioavailability of Turmeric
The problem is that turmeric is not very bioavailable. That’s fancy speak for saying that it’s difficult for our bodies to absorb turmeric and reap the benefits. That’s because most of the curcumin gets metabolized before our bodies can absorb it. There are, however, two primary ingredients that can increase turmeric’s bioavailability, both of which you’ll find in this recipe.
First, black pepper. Black pepper contains an alkaloid called piperine, which enhances the bioavailability of many drugs, including turmeric. Studies have shown that combining just a little black pepper with turmeric can boost blood levels of curcumin by up to 2,000%!
Second, fat. The presence of fat increases the solubility of water-soluble vitamins and drugs, including curcumin, which has a low solubility in water. Combining turmeric with a healthy source of fat (such as coconut oil) allows the curcumin to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream.
Other Health Benefits in this Tonic
This tonic has a variety of other health benefits in addition to superfood turmeric.
Ginger: ginger boasts immune-boosting antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, in addition to aiding digestion, reducing heart disease risk, and possibly reducing muscle soreness and pain.
Cinnamon: cinnamon contains large amounts of polyphenol antioxidants, which also have anti-inflammatory benefits. And some studies suggest that cinnamon may help reduce blood sugar, especially helpful for those with diabetes.
Cayenne pepper: cayenne is another anti-inflammatory superstar. The substance that gives chili peppers their spicy taste, capsaicin, is the active ingredient in many pain medications and therefore cayenne pepper may aid in reducing muscle pain and even arthritis. Cayenne pepper has also been shown to relieve digestive problems, such as gas and IBS.
Carrots: carrots are Vitamin A powerhouses, a vitamin that is essential for eye and skin health.
Oranges: oranges, as you probably know, are rich in Vitamin C, which plays a vital role in maintaining the immune system.
Coconut oil: as mentioned above, the coconut oil is present in this tonic to help increase the bioavailability of turmeric.
Coconut water: Coconut water is a good source of potassium and magnesium and rich in electrolytes, which help prevent dehydration and maintain blood volume. Coconut water is a great rehydrating beverage after a tough workout.
Now that you’ve had a lengthy lesson in nutrition and natural remedies, let’s quickly talk about the recipe!
To grate fresh turmeric and ginger, use a microplane or a small cheese grater. However, if you have a powerful blender, you can just roughly chop the fresh turmeric and ginger instead of grating them.
If you can’t find fresh turmeric, you can substitute ground turmeric, but I think fresh turmeric makes this drink much better. Start with 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, then taste, and add more as you can tolerate.
You can use plain H2O instead of coconut water in this tonic if you prefer, but coconut water (along with the orange juice and carrots) gives this beverage a natural sweetness, making it unnecessary to add any sweetener.
You can double or quadruple the recipe and store leftovers in the fridge (once cooled) so you can have it throughout the week.
And this beverage is great served hot or cold, so feel free to enjoy it however you like!
Anti-Inflammatory, Immune-Boosting Turmeric Tonic
Vegan, Gluten-free, Paleo
Serves 2 to 3
2 carrots, washed, peeled and diced
2 oranges, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cups coconut water (can substitute plain water if coconut water is not available)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh turmeric*
2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger*
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons virgin coconut oil
* If you have a powerful blender, you don’t have to grate the turmeric and ginger – you can simply roughly chop them and let the blender take care of the rest.
Place all of the ingredients except for the apple cider vinegar and coconut oil in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.
If you want to serve it warm, transfer the tonic to a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer, then take off the heat (do not boil, as it can reduce the available nutrients in turmeric). If you prefer it served cold, skip this step.
Carefully pour the tonic over a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, and squeeze out as much liquid as you can, then discard the pulp. Stir in the apple cider vinegar and coconut oil and then divide 2 or 3 mugs.