Dietitian’s Choice: Anti-Inflammatory Golden Milk
Turmeric is a relative of ginger and, like ginger, has traditionally been used as a culinary staple for many years, especially in its native South and Southeast Asia. It’s the main ingredient in curry powder and is known to be an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric milk, or golden milk, is a simple concoction of—you guessed it—turmeric and milk, and has traditionally been used to treat a variety of ailments from colds to digestive issues to depression. It’s warm and soothing, and it tastes more like a treat than a therapeutic tonic. Its bright orange-yellow color makes the sipping experience even better.
Golden milk can be made with either dried turmeric powder or fresh turmeric root. Dried turmeric is widely available in grocery stores and spice markets; fresh turmeric is more difficult to find and can at times be found at farmers’ markets and in health foods stores during winter months. There is minimal difference in taste between the two, though golden milk made with dried turmeric powder is very minimally grainy in texture, and some of the powder may sink to the bottom of the cup. Fresh turmeric produces golden milk that is slightly more smooth, earthy, and spicy in taste.
This recipe represents the basic formula for golden milk and is delicious as is; however, the extra fun and flavor are in the endless customizations, some of which are listed in Variations below. Check them out and get creative!
This recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, or quadrupled. It can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for a few days, which makes it accessible for drinking over the road, either reheated or cold. Note that while turmeric consumption via food is generally safe for all, it is important to use caution when consuming in large doses or as a supplement, so make sure to check with a trusted healthcare provider if you have any questions.
Time: 10-15 minutes
1 cup milk, dairy, or non-dairy (see Notes below)
1 teaspoon dried turmeric powder OR 1 tablespoon freshly grated turmeric
Pinch black pepper
If using dried turmeric powder:
Combine milk, turmeric, pepper, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk together and continue whisking until heated to the desired temperature, about 8 minutes. Transfer to your favorite mug and sip to enjoy.
If using fresh turmeric:
You will need a piece about 1-2 inches in size (square or round). Peeling is not necessary; any unwanted peel will eventually be removed by straining or can easily be removed by hand once grated. Use a fine grater or zester to grate until you have a packed tablespoon. (You can use a mortar and pestle instead of a grating tool, but know that this will increase your time and effort.) Combine milk, turmeric, pepper, and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Allow to heat for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and strain into your favorite mug using a fine-mesh sieve, cheesecloth, or a loose leaf tea infuser basket. Sip to enjoy.
Because turmeric contains fat-soluble compounds, the presence of fat is needed for optimum absorption. If using milk with little or no fat, it is recommended that 1 teaspoon coconut oil be added to milk at any time during preparation.
High temperatures are not recommended when heating milk. Do not allow milk to reach a boil. Remove from heat or reduce heat if milk starts to bubble or if a film begins to form on the surface or around the side of the pan.
Turmeric contains beautiful, vibrant yellow and orange pigments and will stain countertops, utensils, and hands. Wash immediately with soap and water to prevent staining.
One teaspoon of real maple syrup or raw honey can be stirred in prior to serving if sweetness is desired. Or, a couple of drops of stevia liquid or a sprinkle of stevia powder can be substituted.
Cinnamon and/or ginger are great flavor accompaniments. If using dried spices, add one teaspoon cinnamon and/or ginger with turmeric and prepare as directed. If using fresh ginger, prepare in the same manner as fresh turmeric, up to one tablespoon. One or two whole cinnamon sticks can be used to infuse milk as it heats and should be strained out with turmeric and/or ginger. Additionally, several whole peppercorns can be used in this way instead of ground pepper. All chai spices make a great addition, too.
Real vanilla or almond extract can be added during cooking for additional flavor. A little of each goes a long way; a few drops, less than 1/8 teaspoon, is enough to add significant flavor.
Golden milk is delicious served cold. Refrigerate to cool and serve chilled if desired.