Golden Milk: Turmeric and Ginger Tea with Coconut Milk

I recently had the pleasure of being asked to speak to a lovely group of women at a retreat for Image Reborn Foundation.  Image Reborn Foundation is a fabulous organization that provides no-cost healing retreats to women diagnosed with breast cancer to empower them to live fully beyond breast cancer. 

Something magical happens when women gather together. There is a sense of freedom, exploring and discovering new sights, sounds and smells. When you join together in a new place, often times you feel lighter, more expansive and open to possibility. 

You feel connected. To the new place. To new people. To yourself.

I love leading and participating in retreats because your intuition comes into sharp focus once again.  My intention for this retreat was to bring our focus to the intuition of the body and the healing power of delicious. Together we made Golden Milk and discussed the healing power of food as our medicine. 

Chemotherapy, radiation and surgery are today's primary weapons in the fight against cancer. Unfortunately, in the process of destroying the bad cancer cells, they destroy man good cells as well. Chemotherapy and radiation also affect a cancer patient's appetite, diet and overall well-being. 

Good food gives your body the strength it needs to get through hard days, the courage to stay healthy when treatment is over, and comfort when your soul needs it most.

While the effects of cancer treatment can be very damaging, we can use our diet to help conditions. We can use food to prepare the body for treatment in the days leading up to and following treatment. And we can use food in recovery to help heal and nourish our bodies. Spices are a wonderful way to add flavor and healing to food. 

Taking care of one's health is always important, but during cancer treatment it is crucial
Eating a balanced diet of healthy, nourishing food is vital to mitigating the rigors of cancer treatment and to healthy survivorship. 

Creamy, faintly sweet and fragrant with the potent flavors of ginger and turmeric, Golden Milk is a deeply nourishing drink, warming and perfect for wintery afternoons or to soothe a tired body. Golden Milk is also a great way to get the benefits of Turmeric daily. I love drinking this before bed as it aids relaxation and helps boost the immune system while sleeping.

Disclaimer: The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that it is safe to cook with Turmeric while pregnant and nursing but that turmeric supplements should not be taken without a doctor’s advice. Since this tea contains Turmeric, consult with a doctor or midwife before consuming this if you are pregnant, nursing or have a medical condition.


Turmeric and Ginger

Turmeric and ginger are rhizomes, and while they look like roots, they’re actually the subterraneous stems of tropical plants.  
Both turmeric and ginger have long been lauded for their medicinal as well as culinary properties, and often season the traditional foods of south Asian kitchens.
When you peel away the papery skin that envelops the turmeric rhizome, it reveals a brilliant orange color.  This orange pigment colors the foods in which it is cooked, and gives Golden Milk its characteristic yellow-gold color.  It is also this pigment, as well as other components found in turmeric, that contribute to its strong antioxidant capacity.  While turmeric has long-been used in traditional south Asian folk medicine, only recently have researchers begun looking into its effects on various cancers, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. Curcumin, a component of turmeric, is strongly anti-inflammatory.

How to Use Golden Paste

A lot of people incorporate the golden paste into their diet or daily routine, instead of taking it once in a while like a “medication.” The paste can be taken as is in small amount (1/4 tsp) 2 to 3 times a day, or mixed with honey for a better taste.

It also can be added to different dishes: salads, smoothies, curries, rice or soup. Experiment with what tastes better for you! Listen to the intuition of your unique body. 

Recommended Turmeric Dosage:

The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends the following daily dosages for adults:
Raw root: 1.5-3 grams
Powdered turmeric: 1-3 grams
Curcumin standardized powder: 400-600 mg, three times a day
Liquid extract (1:1): 30-90 drops
Tincture (1:2): 15-30 drops, four times a day
Note: many studies have shown that higher doses of turmeric are needed for greater medicinal benefits. Standard dosage may be better for preventative, every day use.

Ginger, like turmeric, offers strong antioxidant capacity and has similarly enjoyed a long history of use in folk medicine where it is traditionally used to easy stomach upset or to ease the discomfort caused by flus and colds.  Preliminary research also links ginger to slowed tumor growth and to the inhibition of the growth of cancerous ovarian cells, though ginger’s affect on cancer is poorly understood and warrants more research.


When I prepare my Golden Milk, I begin first by combining freshly grated ginger and turmeric with grass-fed ghee to form a fine paste. Long used in Ayurvedic cooking, ghee is a type of clarified butter.  Ghee prepared from the butter of grass-fed cows is extraordinarily rich in fat-soluble vitamins A and K2; it is also a good source of conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy fat with anticarcinogenic properties.


I use raw honey as a sweetener.  With a thick texture and a strong, almost medicinal flavor.  It is rich in antioxidants and has strong antimicrobial properties.  

Black Pepper

It is beneficial to take black pepper with turmeric because it helps the body absorb turmeric.
A 1992 report in Clinical Pharmacokinetics on black pepper explained why some studies did not show the same benefits of turmeric as the others did. The human body has a tough time utilizing curcumin effectively. However just a small amount of black pepper boosted bioavailability of curcumin by up to 2000%, the study shows.

Serves: 2 cups
1 1-inch knob fresh turmeric
1½-inch knob fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ghee
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
1 cup coconut water
1 tablespoon raw local honey
1 cinnamon stick or 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Small pinch of black pepper

Peel both the turmeric and ginger, then grate them finely into a mortar or a molcajete. Spoon the ghee into the mortar or molcajete, and grind the ghee into the turmeric and ginger with your pestle until they form a fine paste.
Pour the coconut milk and coconut water into a saucepan, and spoon in the paste made with turmeric, ginger and ghee. Turn the heat up to medium-high and warm the ingredients together until little bubbles just begin to creep up the sides of the pot. Turn off the heat and cover the saucepan, allowing the turmeric and ginger to steep about 3 minutes. Strain the golden milk through a fine-mesh strainer or tea strainer into a tea pot. Stir in the honey and continue stirring until it dissolves. Serve warm.
Golden Milk is traditionally made with cow's milk. If you wish to omit the coconut milk and coconut water, simply substitute 2 cups whole milk. Make it a Latte!
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

In order to change the way we eat food, we have to first change the way that we think about food. Whether you are a cancer survivor, currently in treatment, or trying to eat healthier for increased energy and vitality.
Remember: our food is our medicine and our fuel.

How do you use food as medicine in your kitchen??  
Share with us in the comments below!


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