Superfoods: What They Are and How to Get Them
Eat Well May. 24. 2013
Beverages

How to Make Turmeric Milk, Plus Health Benefits

May. 24. 2013
Beverages
McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill, MS, RDN, LDN

Dietitian, Founder

A classic comforting, warm, and boldly spiced turmeric milk recipe with a hint of sweetness.

If you’ve never heard of turmeric milk, you’re in for a treat. Turmeric milk is my absolute favorite night time drink other than hot tea. This drink is not only completely comforting, relaxing, and soothing, but it’s also extremely nutritious. Turmeric contains loads of nutrients, especially antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which make this a win-win in my book. Another benefit is that it simply tastes delicious! Turmeric has a warm, slightly spicy, bold, and earthy flavor, and when mixed with a hint of sweetness it makes the nightcap beverage (sans alcohol).

Click here to get your free eBook with our Top 20 Turmeric Recipes! 

Turmeric Milk: Where It Comes From

Most of us here in the Western culture (U.S.) have some story of a mother, parent, grandmother, etc. who have told us to drink warm milk before bedtime because it’ll help us sleep. The theory behind that originated due to the tryptophan content in milk (the same theory behind turkey making you sleepy), which has been proven false.

Instead, the sleepy effect is simply because we eat way too much and our energy rushes to our digestive tracts to digest that load of food and not because of the amino acid tryptophan. Honestly, I can’t show any research that supports the theory that warm milk helps you sleep (in fact this one says different), but the fact is that it’s simply comforting. Anything warm in the evening hours provides soothing effects on our digestion and almost instantaneously relaxes us.

Most traditional recipes will use whole cow’s milk, but I substitute with almond milk since it’s a little more friendly to our bodies and digestion, especially for those suffering from digestive issues or intolerances to dairy.

Traditionally, turmeric milk comes from Ayurvedic practices and medicine in Indian cultures and is nothing new to other Eastern cultures. In fact, it’s been known as a “healing spice” and used to help anything from sore throats, colds, the flu, and stomachaches to wound healing and treatment of abrasions and skin issues (due to it’s antibacterial and antimicrobial properties). I wrote an in-depth post on the nutritional value of turmeric here, and because it boasts so many benefits, it’s a spice that’s always in my pantry and one that I use almost daily.

The Health Benefits of Turmeric Milk

Turmeric milk is not only high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and healthy fats (especially when using coconut oil) but is also high in manganese and iron thanks to the turmeric. Traditional recipes include peppercorns that actually enhance the absorption of curcumin (the main component found in turmeric). The ingredients in this recipe actually work in a synergistic fashion and help enhance the nutritional value of each other, which is another reason why I love this recipe.

I also love using turmeric in all kinds of dishes such as curries, One Bowl Skillet Meal, Spicy Coconut Curry with Sweet Jasmine RiceCurry Cauliflower Soup, dressings, and sauces. I’ll even add a dash in my Stripped Green Smoothie for added health benefits. All of these recipes are incredibly delicious and embrace the flavor and health benefits of turmeric, without it being too bold or unpleasant. However, if you find the taste of turmeric too overpowering in turmeric milk, you can start out by adding more honey or maple syrup to sweeten and gradually decrease the amount over time.

The Best Time to Drink Turmeric Milk

My favorite time to incorporate turmeric milk into my day is when I’m unwinding for the day. I’ll put on some relaxing music, cozy slippers, and simmer a pot of this on the stove. Then I’ll let all the flavor of turmeric, peppercorns, cinnamon, ginger, and coconut milk or almond milk marry beautifully together. Actually, the longer you simmer this over low-medium heat, the stronger and more intense the flavor is, which I prefer. Even if you’re on the go and want to enjoy turmeric milk, you can still reap the benefits by just adding about 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, a dash of cinnamon, and sea salt into some almond milk, shake it up and go! However, I promise the experience of making this over the stove and enjoying it warm is the one to be experienced first.

TIP: Ashley, a helpful reader who’s also a dentist, shared this advice about turmeric’s staining effect on the teeth:

“Try brushing your teeth with baking soda and water. Just be gentle while brushing. Otherwise, it can become abrasive and irritable (use a circular motion, and a 45-degree angle towards the teeth and gums). Turmeric causes the most extrinsic staining compared to coffee and wine, according to evidence-based dentistry as of 2015.” Thanks, Ashley!

Stripped

Antioxidants

The compound in turmeric that gives it its yellow hue is called curcumin, and this compound carries high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Powerful antioxidants like this can reduce the risk of diseases, including cancer.

Anti-Inflammatory

One of turmeric’s most well-known and studied properties is its effects on inflammation. It’s been shown to reduce inflammation in the body, which could help reduce the risk of many chronic diseases—and these properties also come from the curcumin compound.

Manganese

Manganese, a mineral that also offers anti-inflammatory benefits, will also help to protect your bones and fight off osteoporosis. It also helps in the formation of connective tissue and metabolization of fat and carbs.

The Recipe

Serves 2

Print

Ingredients:

2 cups of homemade almond milk

1 tablespoon local honey, optional

1 tablespoon coconut oil, optional

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

small pinch of black pepper and grated ginger (fresh is best)

 

Directions:

Simply pour all ingredients into a small saucepan and bring to a light boil. Whisk to combine ingredients. Reduce heat to low and simmer for up to 10 minutes.

Strain the milk if you have large pieces of ginger, cinnamon, peppercorns, etc. To serve, add honey or a dash of cinnamon.

Enjoy warm is best!

Make it a latte:

If you love this recipe, try the Turmeric Milk Latte Elevated, Coffee Elevated, and Turmeric Tea!

Ingredients I used to make Turmeric Milk: organic ground turmeric, Vitamix for homemade almond milk, organic coconut oil

Subtle variations:

Add 2-3 whole cardamom pods while boiling
Add 2-3 whole black peppercorns
Add 2 tablespoons coconut oil
Add more honey or maple syrup to sweeten
Add vanilla extract to taste

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