How to beat inflammation naturally.

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This post is dedicated to one of my Facebook readers, Alyson, that suggested I write about inflammation and foods that help reduce its effect on our bodies.

First of all, there are two kinds of inflammation that take place inside of us. One is acute inflammation which shows up as redness, heat, soreness and swelling. Acute inflammation is your body’s response to harmful stimuli, damaged cells or irritants. It can be easily confused with an infection, but it is actually your body trying to correct the disturbance by flooding the area with blood. It is the way in which we attempt to heal ourselves. The other type of inflammation is called chronic inflammation. It is described as constant healing and destruction of local cells. It may take months or even years for chronic inflammation to take it’s toll on your health, but if chronic inflammation is left unchecked, it leads to a plethora of serious and potentially deadly diseases.

Some diseases and conditions caused by chronic inflammation are:

-Inflammatory Bowel Disease

-Vasculitis

-Sarcoidosis

-Asthma

-Celiac Disease

-Autoimmune Diseases

-Alzheimer’s Disease

-Heart Disease

-Cancer

-Rheumatoid Arthritis

So, how do we reduce inflammation and it’s long term effects? There are many foods and a few supplements that are readily available to most of us.

I’ll start with common spices that you probably already have in your cabinet. Ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper and cloves are all fantastic in reducing inflammation. Try to include them in your cooking daily for noticed improvement. I’m particularly fond of cinnamon, turmeric and ginger when allergy season comes around. Allergies are after all, inflammation caused by your body’s reaction to foreign substances. So, I make sure to add cinnamon to my coffee, yogurt and my kid’s oatmeal and pb&j sandwiches all year long. Although turmeric is bright in color and used in many Indian dishes, the flavor is mild enough, that I use it in many of my favorite dishes. I’ve even added it to smoothies without my kids knowing the difference. Ginger is wonderful for digestive issues as well as sore throat.

Other foods that are wonderful for their anti-inflammatory properties are: Fish, dark leafy greens, nuts (almonds and walnuts), beets, garlic, onion, high quality olive oil, berries and tart cherries. Sounds pretty good, huh? I would say out of all of these foods, fish is my number one pick to fight inflammation. They are high in healthy omega-3 fats that are so vital to your body’s well being. If you truly can’t stomach the smell or taste of fish, you might try fish oil capsules. I recommend a high quality fish oil, such as Nordic Naturals Cod Liver Oil. They are easy to take and don’t have an aftertaste. If you are vegetarian, but still want a great source of omega-3 fats, I recommend chia seeds. They are high in omega-3, fiber, protein, calcium and iron. You can buy a big bag of them at Costco for a fraction of the regular price! Another incredibly important element to add to your diet to reduce inflammation is WATER. Drinking lots of fresh water everyday is nothing but good for your body.

Vitamins and minerals that are great for reducing inflammation are: Vitamin C (200 mg),Vitamin E (400 IU) and Selenium (200 mcg).

Now for the not so fun part. Foods to avoid or limit: Sugar, alcohol, caffeine, white flour, omega-6 fatty acids (vegetable oils), dairy, MSG and trans fats. For some people, avoiding gluten is also key to reducing inflammation. It has been shown to hugely reduce the symptoms of people suffering from fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and respiratory ailments.

So there you have it, Alyson. I hope this was helpful to you and the rest of my readers. If you have any questions regarding this article, please feel free to ask them here or on my Facebook page.

 

Simple Sweet and Savory Springtime Salad

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I  am so crazy glad that spring is finally here. I’m choosing to celebrate the new season by devouring as many delicious leafy greens and asparagus as I possibly can. I invite you to join me in this salad filled celebration, by sharing this very simple recipe. It takes about 20 minutes to whip up and is far more filling than you’d think. Try it (or a variation on it) this weekend!

 

1 cup- uncooked quinoa

1 cup- beef broth (or chicken or vegetable)

1 cup- water

4 or 5- handfuls of chopped kale

1- handful of fresh young asparagus spears (washed and trimmed and cut in to 2 inch long pieces)

1- apple (any variety chopped in to cubes)

a drizzle of sesame oil

a sprinkling of tamari (soy sauce)

 

Instructions: Cook quinoa as per instructions substituting the broth for one of the cups of water. Should cook up in exactly 15 minutes. While that’s happening, put the chopped kale and asparagus in a large bowl. Add the sesame oil and tamari and lightly massage the greens til they are completely coated. When the quinoa is finished, poor it on top of the veggies and mix so that the kale softens. Lastly add the chopped apple and mix again. That’s it, enjoy!

Super Sonic Energy Bites!

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Over the weekend, I came up with a little treat for my kids to have for snacks or quick breakfasts. It came to me as I was shopping for ingredients for an annual made from scratch contest at The Dessert Plate in my town. I new that I wanted to make something that was quick, gluten free and only had a handful of ingredients. After I whipped up a dozen or so of these sweet, energy packed treats, I let my oldest be my taste tester. He loved it and said we should call them “Delicious!”. Then he came up with a name that was a bit more descriptive, Super Sonic Energy Bites. I entered them in the contest along with the recipe and a short story. They did not win the contest, but they won my kids over BIG TIME. So, I am sharing them with you today.

Recipe:

2 cups pitted dates

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1 Tbls cocoa powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger powder

 

Throw all ingredients into the food processor and blend well. Scoop out tablespoon size portions and roll in to balls. Finally, roll bites in extra shredded coconut. Makes approximately 1 dozen bites.

Nori Roll-ups!

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Yep, I’m still trying to tackle this thing called wheat free living. My newest wonderful experiment in sandwiches with no bread, is the nori roll-up. It’s simple, just take some flat toasted nori sheets, meant for sushi and fill ’em up with whatever you like to eat for lunch! Turkey, avocado, hummus, greens, cheese, hard boiled egg, tuna… whatever floats your boat! They are a little crunchy on the outside and if you love the taste of sushi, you’re going to love these. You don’t even need a rolling mat. Just do it freestyle.

What would you put int your nori roll-up?

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Super Easy Coconut Avocado Pancakes

I got a little “creative” in the kitchen this afternoon. I knew I wanted to make pancakes on the griddle to avoid turning on the stove or oven (it’s crazy hot this week!). So, I found a recipe for grain-free pancakes that sounded pretty tasty, but I didn’t have some of the necessary ingredients. This is where the creative bit comes in. What’s easier than avocado to mash up and substitute for apple sauce? OK, maybe a banana, but I wanted to get some green in our dinner and cut some of the sugar. Besides, avocado has 2.9 gr of protein, 708 mg of potassium, vit. B-6, vit. C and magnesium.

The recipe went over well with the kids and the husband. Win!!

 

Coconut Avocado Pancakes:

 

1/2 large avocado (mashed)

4 large eggs (beaten)

1 tblsp honey

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 tsp salt (I used himalayan pink salt)

1/2 tsp baking soda

 

Smash the avocado. Add beaten eggs and honey. Blend well. In large bowl whisk together flour, salt and baking soda. Combine wet and dry ingredients. I added the cocnut milk at the end because the batter was way too thick. You could add it to the wet ingredients earlier in the process, it doesn’t really matter. Spoon the batter on to griddle to make approximately 18 silver dollar pancakes. Flip when browned and firm on the bottom. Let other side brown and remove. Top with whatever you like. That’s it!

These pancakes are Paleo, gluten-free, fast and very nummy.

Give them a shot and let me know what you think.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living Wheat Free

My most recent dietary epiphany has been that I do indeed have a wheat sensitivity. It’s something that I’ve been ignoring and blaming on other factors for years. Whenever I would have a dish of pasta, a sandwich, a cookie, scone or slice of birthday cake, I’d end up feeling bloated and nauseated. That’s pretty much every day when I think about it. Somedays would be worse than others depending on how many wheat products I would consume. I just got use to it after a while I suppose. However, now that I am really zeroing in on which foods make me feel good and which don’t, I can no longer pretend that my body can digest wheat. I’ve considered following the Paleo diet and giving up all grains, but I’m not quite sure that’s the best for me. I know that I’ll figure it out during this next year of furthering my nutritional education.

Since I’ve eliminated wheat from my diet, I’ve had to get creative with my food. Investigating wheat flour alternatives to bake with has been somewhat daunting. There are a lot of alternative flours, but none seem to be able to duplicate the fluffy, light texture that you get from wheat. You have to add tons of other wacky ingredients that don’t even sound like something I’d want to eat (tapioca starch, guar gum, xanthan gum, agar agar powder).There are gluten free mixes and some of them are even organic, though not many. They already have the wacky ingredients mixed in, so at least you don’t have to spend the money to buy each one individually.

There is one flour that seems to be as close to wheat flour as I am able to get when used alone. Quinoa flour is light and so far has given me pretty fair results when baking. It has a light odor that is definitely different from wheat, but it’s not enough to turn me off. It has 4 g of protein (same as whole wheat), but only 18 g of carbohydrates (23 g for whole wheat). So, though it is pricey, it will keep me satisfied when the cravings for baked goods come around.

Tonight, I made these yummy summer squash pancakes with quinoa flour. They cooked up beautifully and was a super way of using up some of the extra squash I had in my farm share this week. The kids devoured them so quickly, I had to make sure to save a few for my husband before they were all gone.

Sweet and Savory Summer Squash Pancakes

Makes about 12 pancakes

2 large eggs

3 tbls melted butter

2 tbls honey

2 tbls milk

2 tbls plain yogurt

a splash of vanilla extract

1 1/2 medium summer squash grated in food processor (pat with paper towels to reduce moisture)

1 cup quinoa flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

 

Simply stated, mix all the wet ingredients together in a large bowl. Whisk all the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add the dry to the wet and blend gently until it looks like this:

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Then spoon the batter on to an electric griddle or buttered skillet:

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The end result is something like a potato pancake, but sweeter and not quite so heavy.

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I topped them with maple syrup and butter. Nummies 🙂