The Many Benefits of Golden Milk

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Golden milk, called “haldi (turmeric) ka doodh (milk)” is an old Ayurvedic drink and recipe used throughout Asia and India. It is essentially milk (dairy or plant-based) warmed with turmeric, a powerhouse spice with multiple documented health benefits.

The essential recipe is simply milk (one cup) with turmeric (¼ to ½ teaspoon) brought to a simmer over low to medium heat. Along with turmeric, additional ingredients such as honey, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom can be added — many like a pinch of fresh black pepper as well.

Fans of golden milk say that it aids sleep by soothing digestion, fights colds and flu, and lifts low moods. Researchers are cracking the code on why this simple drink has been so popular for centuries in India, and is gaining fans in the West. The turmeric, loaded with a phytochemical called “curcumin,” is the catalyst for golden milk benefits.

Turmeric = Curcumin

According to “Medical News Today,” research has confirmed that curcumin, the active component of turmeric, a common spice in Asian and Indian cuisines, supports health in multiple ways.

    • Anti-Inflammatory: Curcumin has been shown to reduce the inflammation which been linked to a broad range of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. A study on rheumatoid arthritis and curcumin showed that the group of patients receiving the nutrient showed much less pain and swelling compared to those who did not. The researchers also confirmed that curcumin is safe, with no adverse effects.

 

  • Mood Regulation: Curcumin has also been shown to improve mood — a randomized, controlled trial showed that curcumin “may be used as a safe and effective modality in patients with major depressive disorder.”

  • Antioxidant: Curcumin, with its antioxidant properties, helps protect living cells from free-radical damage from processed foods and environmental stressors.

Additional Ingredients and their Benefits

    • Cinnamon has been proven to protect brain function in neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, and slows memory loss. This spice is loaded with polyphenols, giving the aromatic bark powerful antioxidant properties. Cinnamon also fights heart disease by reducing LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and has been shown to reduce blood pressure. These studies merely scratch the surface of cinnamon’s value as a medicinal plant.

 

  • Ginger, with its gut-soothing action, helps to calm and relax the digestive system. This helps prepare the body for rest and sleep. Ginger is a cousin of turmeric, and shares anti-inflammation characteristics. The active ingredient, gingerol, relieves nausea and vomiting, and is used as a natural treatment for sea sickness. Ginger has been found to be effective for morning sickness, post-surgical and chemotherapy nausea.

  • Raw, High Quality Honey is full of antioxidants. The antioxidant compounds unique to raw honey have been linked to preventing heart disease and lowering blood pressure. It has also been found to improve cholesterol and lower triglycerides. Raw honey can help suppress coughing, and consuming locally-sourced honey may relieve allergies by delivering homeopathic amounts of offending pollen, triggering a healthy immune response.

  • Cardamom is another signature spice flavor in Indian recipes — and unexpectedly in Scandinavian foods. Vikings opening trade routes to Asia through Istanbul returned home with cardamom they discovered in Constantinople’s spice markets — it was quickly embraced and became an essential ingredient in Scandinavian foods. Sweden is the world’s third largest consumer of the potent spice.

    Cardamom is another cousin of turmeric, and carries many of curcumin’s benefits such as antioxidant action, anti-inflammatory properties, and antibacterial effects, but it has also been found to fight bad breath, cavities, and stomach ulcers.

  • Black Pepper has been in use for centuries in both culinary and medical traditions. Ayurvedic medicine values black pepper for its ability to pacify kapha and vata doshas while increasing pitta, the third dosha. The vedics also use black pepper for cleansing, weight loss, respiratory health, and healthy joints. Black pepper can be considered a superfood because of its high amounts of minerals (zinc, phosphorous, manganese, calcium, iron, copper, choline.)


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Conscious Cooking: Mushroom Broth

Sipping Broths are all the rage in the “foodie-world,” but broth – or stock – has been a big deal in the culinary world for a long time. The earliest form of stock was probably made around the same time that humans began boiling water. It’s a known fact that some of the oldest recipes are the simplest, and therefore they are most likely to be passed on throughout history. Many probably started from the same place, the same idea, the same accident. Someone, somewhere, a long time ago dropped their scraps into a pot of water because they were either curious or desperately needed to eat and tried to make the most of what they had. And that led to stock, which led to soup, which led to stew, which led to gravy, which led to sauce, which led to everything we eat today, in some way, shape or form. But the original survived as stock.

Sipping Broth: Stock That Can Stand Alone

Every good chef knows how to make a stock, whether it be beef, chicken, fish, or some variation of vegetable; but every great chef knows how to make a broth that can be eaten on its own–without anything fancy to cover it up or hide it from the world–just a spoon and maybe a piece of bread. And that’s what happened with the sipping broth trend. Some trendy restaurant decided to serve their beef broth on its own and people went crazy over it.

At first I was slightly annoyed by this trend (“Why are people drinking broth? It’s meant to be cooked with!”), but then I realized that if people were buying broth to drink, they would eventually be looking for ways to make their own. Broth is, after all, one of the simplest and quickest ways to nourish the body. Because of its long, slow, cook time, the water in stock is able to procure every possible nutrient out of every ingredient within the pot. A slower cooking time means that most of the things that get broken down during our digestion process happen in the pot instead of our bellies, this allows our bodies to better absorb the nutrients in the stock. It means healthier eating habits, and full, happy bellies. The more people who know how to make a good broth, the better.

Taking Stock of Mushrooms

So let’s talk stock. A great stock has a deep earthy quality to it, a slight oiliness, and silky flavor. The best kind of stock, in my humble opinion, is made with mushrooms–just plain, old mushrooms. Mushrooms are incredible. They have a healing power. They have intricate root systems, they are made up of beautiful bacteria, they are fungi, they pop up seemingly out of nowhere, and they can grow on anything that is fertile enough to host them. Mushrooms have a meatiness to them, and they are full of a natural umami flavor (“umami” is considered the fifth flavor profile that our palate detects, and is identified as both sweet and savory), which makes them perfectly nourishing for a delicious stock. They add depth and earthiness to beef stock, so why not take the bones out of the equation and give the humble mushroom its turn in the spotlight?

Mushroom Sipping Broth

This recipe calls for many nutrient-rich and flavorful ingredients for a reason: it is meant to be eaten, or sipped on, by itself. Though, I would not frown upon using it as a base for a soup, or stew, or even as a substitute for water when cooking rice or quinoa–by all means, cook with it!. That’s what broth is meant for, after all.

Ingredients

  • 18 oz. Button Mushrooms
  • 1 Medium White Onion
  • 1 whole bulb of Garlic
  • 3 Dried Mushrooms
  • 1 Small piece of Kombu Seaweed
  • 1 tsp crushed Red Pepper
  • 0.5 Cup of Sherry
  • 4 Tbsp Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 5-7 Cups Water

Preparation

Chop the mushrooms into quarters. Slice the onion into strips. Peel a whole head of garlic, separating each individual clove. Crush each clove with the side of your knife. Remove and discard the paper-skin covering the flesh. Add the mushrooms, onions and garlic into the pot along with all of the other ingredients, water should be added last. While adding the water, be mindful of how much broth you would like to have and add about half of a cup more than that amount.

Place the pot on the lowest heat possible and let it come to a simmer, once the water is simmering remove the Kombu from the pot. Allow the rest of the ingredients to stay at a low simmer for 1-1.5 hours, covered. Do not let the stock come to a boil as this will produce a cloudy and separated stock. The gentler the simmer, the better. Stir occasionally. When you are ready, pour the broth into a large bowl through a colander and let it cool to room temperature. Store the broth in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer.

Mind-Tummy-Body Connection

Complement your sipping broth with a yoga practice to Detox and Renew or explore the benefits of meditation with Gaia’s 14-Day How to Meditate Guide.

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