For our 52nd Cook Together, we made a delicious, whole food meal that focused on anti-inflammatory ingredients. With our summer berry bounty in full effect, we took advantage of strawberries, raspberries & blackberries in a four course meal. When everyone usually thinks of strawberries, raspberries and blackberries for breakfast or dessert, we wanted to showcase how you can quickly, easily and deliciously incorporate them into multiple savory courses that work in lunches and dinners as well!
Before we get to the main event of all the delicious food and recipes we created, it’s a great time of year to discuss inflammation. Why is that, you might ask? As the summer months bring more opportunities to get out in the sun, we are more active, our bodies are warmer, and we tend to indulge in more rich and sugary foods with gatherings of friends and families (including being spirited with spirits, beer and wine). Our bodies also tend to “run hot” during the warm months and that can lead to swollen or inflammed joints. All these things mean it’s a great time to incorporate whole foods throughout our days and weeks that can help resist or correct those symptoms.
You might be asking, “What exactly IS inflammation”?
It’s our body systems naturally trying to heal from injury, tissue swells as a result. It is caused by intolerance or allergies to ingredients your system cannot process fast enough, or sometimes can’t process at all. Without treatment or reduction of those ingredients in your system, long term, chronic inflammation can lead to inflammatory disease and illness.
What kinds of foods and beverages contribute or cause inflammation, and which ones help prevent or correct it?
Ingredients that cause inflammation include: Refined or excess sugar, alcohol, excess animal protein, excess processed foods and chemical additives as well as excess partially hydrogenated fats.
Just as important as knowing what to steer clear of, is knowing which natural whole foods can help our bodies recover from inflammatory responses:
- Fruit: avocado, cacao, cherry, coconut, grapes, olive, pomegranate
- Berries: blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, gogi berry
- Vegetables/legumes: carob, maca, mesquite, mushrooms, sea vegetables, pumpkin
- Seeds/nuts: chia seeds, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, quinoa, sesame seeds, walnuts
- Herbs/spices: cayenne, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, oregano, turmeric
- Tonics: aloe vera, green tea, wheatgrass juice, vinegar
How do we prevent being overwhelmed with what to do and remember?
Trying to keep so many ingredients straight can be cumbersome, the quick list of tips to remember are:
- Eat more plant based and whole foods
- Consume less processed and chemical infused foods
- Portion your animal proteins appropriately (4-6 ounces for a full meal)
4-6 lbs organic boneless, skinless chicken breast or tempeh,
2 Cups organic sprouted rice,
2 tbsp kosher salt,
4 cups water (For cooking, not sprouting),
1 tbsp Dijon,
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar,
1/2 cup olive oil,
2 tbsp + 1tsp kosher salt,
1 cup raspberries,
4 cups fresh baby arugula leaves,