Smoothie of the Month: Mango with Turmeric

Have you noticed the recent proliferation of neon-colored drinks and teas popping up at local juice bars and health food stores? These tonics get their hue from turmeric and are often combined with citrus juice and something sweet to tame the spice. Turmeric's properties have been widely used in ancient healing systems and now everyone's catching on.

The small brown-skinned root (which looks not unlike fresh ginger) is in the spotlight for its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, but it also has an interesting flavor -- astringent and earthy. Fresh turmeric root tastes much lighter and less bitter than its dried counterpart.

Here, turmeric's vivid golden color and bright flavor add depth to a sweet tropical smoothie. A little goes a long way, so try starting with less of the spice until you get used to the flavor. The luscious texture of blended mango, cashews and orange create the base for the smoothie, which can easily pass as dessert!

Mango Smoothie with Turmeric

Serves 2

You can often get fresh turmeric at Whole Foods, well-stocked health food stores and Indian markets. But you can also make this smoothie with ¼ teaspoon dried turmeric. Just be sure the spice is reasonably fresh (meaning it hasn't been in your spice drawer for years -- old dried turmeric tastes dusty and bitter). The coconut water in the recipe has a natural sweet flavor. If you replace it with plain water, you may need more honey; start with a tablespoon and add more to taste.

½ cup cashews, soaked in a cup of water for 4 to 6 hours
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2 cups frozen mango (284 g package)
2 teaspoons peeled and chopped fresh turmeric
1 teaspoon peeled and chopped fresh ginger, optional
1 frozen banana
½ cup coconut water or water, plus more to get desired consistency
1 to 2 tablespoons raw honey
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Drain and rinse cashews, and place them in an upright blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend on high speed until completely smooth and creamy.

Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.

Photo by Stephen Johnson
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