Turmeric Tonic


Illustration: Tram Nguyen


Everyone is sick right now. This is a thing I have heard about before—the winter-to-spring transitional bug. Each year around this time, people talk about how “something is going around,” and that something is basically a cold or flu that is mysteriously related to the changing of the seasons. In the past, I cackled privately about this obviously fake phenomenon, because, as I like to brag about to people (because I am an asshole), “I just don’t get sick that often.”

That was then. Now my body is being possessed by a tiny, fickle creature, and that creature has wreaked havoc on my so-called “hearty constitution.” So of course, I am sick. It’s nothing too earth-shattering: Just a little flu, with some lingering, disgusting side effects. It sucked, but many other things have sucked worse. Plus, I’m in the end stages of my ailment, which means I’m veryyyy slowly getting my energy back. For instance, I have just enough stamina to start making a huge pot of stock, but not enough to, say, do the dishes when the stock is finished. Or, in the mid-afternoon, I will get a surge of strength and become dead-set on making myself a fresh juice—Vitamin C!—so I go to the grocery store, buy a few pieces of beautiful fruit, run the fruit through the juicer, and then… leave the juicer on the counter, exhausted, for someone else (future me, in the morning) to clean up. I am starting to feel a little better, but my kitchen has turned into a real disaster zone.

But it’s worth it, because in my sickness I have discovered a whole host of hippie treats that I’m excited to bring with me back to health. Among them: turmeric! Turmeric is one of those spices that peaceful health witches are always raving about, and you know what, I have no idea what it does or if it works (antioxidants…. etc.?), but I decided to buy into it anyway. So this week I made myself a steaming mug of turmeric milk, and then the next day I made myself a tall glass of turmeric tonic. I got really into this tonic for about three hours—I had big plans to prepare huge batches of it, which I would then tote around the office in an oversized mason jar, sipping from it constantly like a Wellness Queen—and then it occurred to me to google “turmeric pregnancy,” at which point my dreams were dashed. Apparently if you are pregnant you do not want to chug turmeric. (Nobody panic: Small amounts of it are fine.) It was a short-lived love affair, but hey, I did get this recipe out of it! Also, there’s a good chance that I would have gotten just far enough in the process to make a huge mess before running out of energy and abandoning the kitchen in a state of neon-yellow filth. So it’s probably for the best. For anyone who is not a pregnant, low-energy bum, however, I encourage you to go forth and make lots of this stuff. I hear it is good for your joints. Or…. something.

Turmeric Tonic

Makes 1 16-ounce glass of tonic (or 2 8-ounce glasses)

You will need: a juicer

1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp. ginger juice (I use a juicer to produce this, but there are other methods, too.)
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. raw honey
2 grinds of freshly ground black pepper
16 oz. seltzer water

Combine the turmeric, ginger juice, lemon juice, honey, and black pepper. Stir until the honey is dissolved. Pour over ice and top with seltzer. Enjoy with the smug satisfaction of someone who is very into fancy teas and self-care.

5 Comments Write a comment

  1. I’ve heard all about turmeric, except how it tastes. Is it sweet, spicy, compassionate?

  2. Elle, I find that it tastes somewhat like ginger–but milder–and with a mineral-iness that I really, really like. Does that make sense?

  3. My mother has been raving about turmeric for years (as a ground spice), but recently a Japanese friend came back from a trip home with a load of “anti-hangover” drinks – all based on fresh turmeric root. I tried one the other day and, barring any placebo effect, it was surprisingly effective. So there’s another incentive for all us (non-pregnant) readers: chug some turmeric tonic before a night of binging, and you may thank yourself the morning after!

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