Golden Milk Recipe + Benefits of Turmeric
As many parts of the country have been experiencing bone-chilling winter weather, you may find yourself struggling to stay warm. While a hot toddy or Irish coffee may seem like a good way to warm up, drinking alcohol actually lowers your body's core temperature. Initially, drinking alcohol might make you feel warmer because it causes our blood vessels to dilate. The blood comes closer to the surface of our skin, which makes us feel warm. However, this also brings the body heat away from the core and closer to the surface, causing heat to evaporate off the skin more quickly. The result is a cooler body temperature in the long run. Alcohol is also a depressant, which means that along with affecting our mental state, it also slows down our entire system, including our circulation. A slower circulatory system also means that the blood does not reach the extremities as well. And in cold weather, we want to keep as much blood pumping to our hands and feet as possible in order to maintain warmth.
A great alternative to an alcoholic beverage in the winter is golden milk. This Ayurvedic beverage is perfect for combatting the winter chill. Golden milk dates back thousands of years in Ayurvedic tradition where it has been used to aid digestion and respiration, prevent colds and flu, ease muscle and joint pain, purify the blood, clear the skin, and aid sleep. The star component of golden milk responsible for these benefits is turmeric, which has been widely studied for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric is used in Ayurveda to balance vata, pitta, and kapha, though in excess, it can aggravate pitta and vata. This is due to the fact that it has heating qualities (which make it perfect for this time of year). Turmeric has an affinity for the blood, so it able to circulate its powerful health benefits throughout the body. Turmeric kindles agni, or our digestive fire, which helps to keep our elimination system in balance. It helps remove ama (toxins) in the body, and helps to support our blood, liver, joints and keeps our immune system strong.
While the wonder-herb turmeric may take the spotlight, the other ingredients in this delicious beverage also play important roles. Pepper increases the bioavailability (the extent to which something is absorbed and assimilated) of the curcumin in the turmeric. Curcumin is fat soluble, so the fat in the milk helps with absorption. Ginger and cinnamon both help stimulate and promote healthy digestion while warming the body.
Even if you live in a more moderate climate, this drink is the perfect winter beverage. The warming spices in this drink will help to balance the excess kapha that tends to accumulate during the cold, wet time of the year.
You can either use fresh or dried herbs to make golden milk. This recipe specifies dried since it allows for a delicious, healthy drink in a fraction of the time (and mess), but see notes below for using fresh turmeric and ginger.
Easy Golden Milk Recipe
2 cups milk or unsweetened non-dairy milk of your choice, such as light coconut milk, oat milk, or soy milk (making sure there is at least some fat content)
1 tsp ground turmeric (*see notes for fresh)
½ tsp ground cinnamon or 1 whole cinnamon stick
¼ tsp ground ginger (*see notes for fresh)
1 Tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar
1 pinch ground black pepper (more to taste)
Add non-dairy milk, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, maple syrup or coconut sugar, and pepper to a small saucepan.
Whisk to combine and warm over medium heat. Heat until hot to the touch but not boiling (about 4 minutes), whisking frequently. (It is important to not overheat the spices, as this can cause them to become bitter-tasting)
Serve into mugs and top with a dash of cinnamon or a cinnamon stick.
Makes 2 servings
* If using fresh turmeric and ginger, use 1 (1-inch) piece turmeric, unpeeled, thinly sliced and 1 (1/2-inch) piece ginger, unpeeled, thinly sliced. Simmer about 10 minutes and then strain through a fine-mesh sieve into mugs.