Today you will see “healthy recipes” just about everywhere. Magazines, billboards, even the packaging on processed foods offer them up! Even if they are healthy, do the ingredients actually offer anti-inflammatory properties?
With all the hype out there, how do you know what recipes are actually providing the most nutrition and while addressing your pain concerns?
One rule of thumb: ingredients should be as close to their natural form as possible.
You don’t have to depend on pain medications to get through the day. You can start to take control of your pain from the inside-out.
A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods can go a long way toward helping you live a life with less chronic pain and inflammation.
We have taken the guesswork out of this by putting together a collection of some of our favorite summer recipes.
They all include tasty ingredients that work to fight pain and inflammation.
Anti-Inflammatory Snacks To Keep Your Pain At Bay On-The-Go
Let’s face it – fast food may be convenient, but it’s far from healthy. Even those things that tout themselves as “healthy alternatives” are loaded with fat, processed ingredients and sugar.
Why spend the money for empty calories when you can create nutritious (and less expensive) versions of your favorites at home?
Lunchtime can be a vast caloric wasteland when you eat out. Consider creating your own lunches. This one will have your co-workers jealous!
- 2 cups of greens (try baby kale or spinach)
- ½ cup chopped fresh broccoli or cauliflower
- 1/3 cup sugar snap peas
- ½ avocado, diced
- ¼ cup chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, pistachios or walnuts are awesome)
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 oz. salmon or light tuna (baked boneless, skinless chicken breast is also great if you’re not a fan of fish)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt to taste
- Pepper to taste
- Toss all the vegetable ingredients together in a bowl.
- In smaller bowl whisk together lemon juice, and oil and pour over salad; season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Food for Thought: Change the flavor profile. Sweeten it up and add some fresh or dried berries to your salad! Mangoes and cherries are especially good!
SPICY TURMERIC-CHILE CHICKPEAS
Are you less for the sweet and more into the savory? You’re going to LOVE these roasted chickpeas, then! Their salty-spicy flavor will give you the satisfaction of a potato chip but packed with nutrients and anti-inflammatory spices.
- 1 tsp turmeric
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp red chile powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp olive or avocado oil
- 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
- Preheat your oven to 450°F. Place chickpeas in a colander or strainer and rinse well under cold water and then blot gently with paper towels to remove excess moisture.
- In a small bowl, combine all spices until well-mixed. In a medium bowl, toss chickpeas with oil until evenly coated. Sprinkle spices over chickpeas and toss a few more times to evenly distribute spices.
- Place in a single layer on a baking sheet (line with foil or parchment for easier clean-up). Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring around on the sheet halfway through to ensure even baking. Check often to avoid burning.
- Once crispy and roasted, remove from oven and allow to cool. Transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature.
Food for Thought: Bag snack-sized portions individually for a quick, crunchy, on-the-go snack.
Joint Pain? Kickstart Your Pain Relief With These Anti-Inflammatory Breakfast Options
Breakfast doesn’t have to be about sugar-laden cereals or greasy affairs full of cured meats. Check out these easy breakfast recipes we’ve chosen for you and learn what we mean when we say, “Wholesome breakfast.”
This is a great vegan-friendly recipe that can replace breakfast or lunch. We even like it for a “pick me up” nutritious snack!
- 1 frozen ripe banana (cut into chunks)
- ½ cup of blackberries (preferably organic – if you’re not familiar with the “Dirty Dozen”, check it out here)
- ¾ cup of vanilla, dairy-free milk (almond adds a nice richness, but any plant-based milk will work)
- 2 tsp flaxseed
- Add all ingredients to your blender. It works best to pour liquid in first, followed by fresh fruit and then the frozen fruit.
- Blend to desired consistency.
Food for Thought: Make it your own! Try greens to increase the nutrient value. Add chia seed if you like a little texture. Throw in a tablespoon or two of your favorite nut butter to up the protein content. The possibilities are endless!
GREEN TEA OVERNIGHT BREAKFAST BOWL
You’ll love the ease of preparation when you make this flavorful breakfast bowl. This recipe is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants to keep you feeling fueled and ready to take on the day.
- 1 cup of old-fashioned, gluten-free rolled oats
- 1 Tbsp of Chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp of Hemp seeds
- 1 cup tightly-packed baby spinach
- 1 cup strong green tea, cooled to room temperature
- ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
- 3 Tbsp of cashews, soaked in water for at least 1 hour
- ½ tsp of vanilla
- ¼ tsp of cinnamon
- 2 medjool dates with the pits removed
- In a medium bowl combine the oats, chia and hemp seeds.
- Place drained cashews, oats, spinach, green tea, almond milk, vanilla, cinnamon and dates in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Combine blended ingredients with oats and seeds and mix thoroughly.
- Cover and refrigerate overnight – this makes two hearty servings you can enjoy with a friend or on consecutive mornings!
Food for Thought: Matcha green tea powder is a delicious and easy way to get that green tea flavor! Instead of brewing a cup of tea, add 1 cup of water or your favorite juice and one serving of matcha tea powder to the blender.
Muscle Pain No More! Awesome Anti-Inflammatory Entreés
KICKIN’ LEMON PEPPER TURMERIC SALAD
Salmon is incredibly rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E. Combine that with turmeric and you have an anti-inflammatory powerhouse!
- ½ lb wild-caught salmon fillets (4 oz per person)
- ¼ tsp ground turmeric plus 1/8 tsp, divided
- ¼ cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice plus 2 Tbsp, divided
- 1 tsp of honey plus 1 Tbsp, divided (adjust to your personal tastes)
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- ¼ tsp salt, plus more to taste
- In a small bowl combine the ¼ cup lemon juice, 1/8 tsp black pepper, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp turmeric and 1 tsp honey; whisk together and set aside.
- Place salmon in a large zip-top bag and add the lemon marinade; seal and place in the fridge to marinate at least an hour.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Remove the salmon from the bag and place skin-side-up on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil. Pour the remaining marinade over the salmon.
- Bake for 6 minutes then remove from the oven flip the salmon over.
- Sprinkle the remaining 1/8 tsp turmeric over salmon and drizzle remaining lemon juice and honey over the top.
- Cook for an additional 6 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.
- Remove from the oven and allow fish to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
Food for Thought: This dish pairs beautifully with quinoa and wilted greens!
ZUCCHINI FRITTERS WITH GARDEN-FRESH SALSA
If you’re a vegan (or you just love veggies), you’ll really enjoy this main dish. Garden-fresh tomatoes add a depth to the salsa and offset the heat of the chiles beautifully!
- 1 large zucchini (or 2 small ones)
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled and finely minced
- ¼ cup fresh oregano or 1 Tbsp dried
- 1 Tbsp freshly-grated lemon zest
- 2 Flax Eggs (mix 1 Tbsp flax meal with 3 Tbsp water; let sit for a couple of minutes to thicken)
- ¼ cup gluten-free flour (we like Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour)
- 2 Tbsp finely minced onion
- ½ tsp salt, plus more to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 2 Tbsp coconut oil
Directions for the fritters:
- Using either your food processor or the large holes on a box grater, grate zucchini. Place in a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with ½ tsp salt, mixing to combine. Empty into colander set over bowl you just emptied it from or in the sink. After 10 minutes, place zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and wring out until dry.
- Place zucchini in large bowl from earlier and gently fold in the egg, herbs, onion, garlic, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Once well combined, slowly introduce the flour, thoroughly mixing to avoid having lumps form.
- Over a medium-high flame, heat oil in skillet until it sizzles when you drop a few shreds of zucchini into the pan.
- Being careful not to burn yourself, drop 2 tablespoons zucchini mixture into pan, spacing each fritter a few inches apart.
- Fry the fritters until they’re golden (this usually takes 2 – 3 minutes) and then turn to cook the other side to the same golden color.
- Move cooked fritters to a plate lined with a paper towel and continue process until all zucchini mixture is cooked.
- Set in a warm place and let rest while making salsa.
- 6 fresh tomatoes, roughly cut into chunks
- ½ sweet or red onion
- 1 clove garlic or ¼ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ fresh jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped (if you prefer, you can use 5 – 7 slices of pickled, jarred jalapeños)
- 2 tsp avocado, sunflower seed or olive oil
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- Juice from ½ of a large lime
- Salt, to taste
- Place the onion, garlic, cilantro, and jalapeno peppers into your food processor. Pulse until finely chopped but not pureéd. Stop and add tomatoes; pulse in short bursts a few times until the tomatoes are coarsely chopped. Place in non-reactive bowl.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, and salt.
- Stir liquid into tomato mixture, combining thoroughly.
Place fritters on plates and divide salsa evenly.
Food For Thought: Place on a gluten-free bun and top with sliced avocado and your favorite veggies!
Healthy Desserts That Offer Pain Relief? Yes, Please!
If you have a sweet tooth, you don’t have to give up delicious desserts. We’re sharing two of our favorite anti-inflammatory recipes that will have you wondering why you didn’t make the switch from store-bought candy bars years ago!
NO BAKE CHERRY, COCONUT, ALMOND CLUSTERS
Cherries have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Dark chocolate is packed with theobromine, a powerful antioxidant known for helping to reduce inflammation. Put them together and you have the ultimate antioxidant tasty cookie!
- 1 cup dried, unsweetened cherries (try to find the unsulfured variety), chopped coarsely
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup toasted almonds, chopped coarsely
- 6 oz dark chocolate chopped or 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips (try to find those without soy lecithin)
- Line a baking sheet with BPA-free parchment paper, slick side-up.
- In a medium mixing bowl, combine the cherries, almonds and coconut.
- In the top of a double boiler, melt half of the chocolate over low-medium heat. Stir regularly, until completely melted. Remove from heat. (If you don’t own a double boiler, you can melt your chocolate in the microwave. Put all chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high in 15-second increments, removing and stirring between each cycle until melted)
- Stir the fruits and nuts into the chocolate until all ingredients are thoroughly coated.
- Scoop out heaping tablespoons of the mixture onto lined baking sheet.
- Once all mixture has been used, place in the fridge for about 20 minutes to set.
- Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
Food For Thought: Cashews make a great alternative if you don’t like almonds.
NO BAKE COCONUT CREAM PIE SQUARES
These no-bake dessert squares are vegan AND gluten-free, making them a sure winner for everyone!
- ½ cup cashew or almond butter
- ¼ cup light coconut milk (the canned type – not the type out of the carton)
- 1 Tbsp vanilla
- ½ cup unsweetened, shredded coconut
- 1 ripe banana, smashed to a pureé
- 3 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1 cup soaked, pitted dates
- ½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut, plus extra for topping
- In medium bowl, blend filling ingredients together until smooth; set aside.
- In the bowl of your food processor, add all crust ingredients.
- Pulse until all ingredients are coarsely ground and nuts are still distinguishable.
- Grease a freezer-safe 8X8 pan with coconut oil.
- Press crust mixture evenly into pan.
- Pour filling over crust, being careful to create an even layer. Sprinkle remaining coconut over the top.
- To serve, remove from freezer and cut into squares. Place any unused portions back in freezer.
Eating a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods doesn’t mean you have to have compromise on taste. As you can see from the recipes above, with just a few tweaks, you can be on your way to a less irritating, more nourishing diet!