WINTER MEALS THAT HEAL: Fight Inflammation With Delicious Recipes

Healthy Chicken Stew RecipeTen years ago, I had terrible inflammation in my digestive tract caused by food poisoning. It caused such damage to the lining of my gut that I could no longer digest grains, and my food allergies became severe. I spent most days with pain in my stomach and intestines, and the constant inflammation started to irritate my joints and muscles. To recover, I needed to eliminate everything that irritated me. I had to start with a soft, warming, diet and gradually add complex choices as I started to heal.

In my book, Meals that Heal Inflammation, I explain how symptoms of redness, swelling, heat, soreness, or loss of function are your body’s response to infection, injury, irritation, or nutrient imbalance. When any four of these factors persist, the affected tissues do not properly heal and the result is a chronic state of inflammation.

In this article on winter meals that heal, we take a closer look at healing soups, anti-inflammatory spices, and steamed greens. My favourite ingredients include shelled hemp seeds, fish oil, and superfoods such as maca, since they played such a big role in my recovery. I believe there are 7 billion diets for 7 billion people. There is no one way to eat healthy, there is just what feels good in your body. I encourage people to become their own Sherlock Holmes and detect what foods will bring them optimum vitality!

A Key to Vibrant Health is pH Balance

The pH (potential of hydrogen) is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a solution. A neutral pH is 7; anything above this is alkalized and anything below is acidic. The body continually strives for a balanced pH of 7.4 which is slightly alkaline. If this balance is consistently disrupted, many health problems can occur. Chronic acidosis can create the chronic inflammation which contributes to conditions such as cancer, candida, diabetes, arthritis, nerve dysfunction, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

For example, Dr. David Seaman, DC, author of Clinical Nutrition for Pain, Inflammation, and Tissue Healing, reports: “An acidic pH can enhance nociceptor responsiveness.” This means that eating a high acid-forming diet directly increases pain.

White flour and sugar are very acidic because the alkalizing minerals have been removed. Sugar is a very costly substance to consume because the body actually robs your stores of vitamins and minerals in order to metabolize the sugar. When you consume refined sugars, you have to cough up the funds in your body’s “vitamin and mineral account,” such as B vitamins and chromium, to complete your “transaction” (that is, to metabolize it). Over time, the repeated consumption of refined sugars depletes your store of nutrients. If you fail to continually top up your vitamin and mineral reserves, you may end up with an overdrawn account. As your pH goes down due to lack of minerals, your pain will go up.

The standard North American diet is high in many acid-producing foods such as: sugar, white flour, grains, meat, eggs, pasteurized dairy, coffee and black tea, alcohol, corn (other than fresh), peanuts, and cheap chocolate.

Some of these foods can be healthy for you but they must be balanced with alkalizing foods.

Other foods, which are acidic for the body that are often considered healthy, include: dried beans, peas, and legumes, cocoa (raw chocolate), pecan, cashew, walnut, asparagus, hazelnuts, pistachio, macadamia nut, dried coconut, cranberry juice, sweet grape, honey, maple syrup, and non-glutinous grains (ie. rice, millet).

How can you correct an overly acidic body? If you reduce the amount of acid- producing foods in your diet, and include lots of fruits and vegetables, you will be on the right track. Ingesting alkalinizing plant matter reduces acidity and gives the body the nutrients it needs to come into balance.

Foods that are highly alkalizing include:
• Swiss chard
• Dandelion greens
• Endive, Kale
• Spinach
• Pomegranate
• Date, Fig
• Prune, Plum, Raisin
• String bean
• Banana
• Beans (fresh)
• Almond
• Brazil nut
• Beet
• Raspberry, blackberry and cranberry
• Avocado
• Carrots
• Chives
• Sour grape
• Dried peach

Other alkalizing foods:
• Cucumbers, Ginger root
• Coconut milk and water
• Alfalfa, Daikon radish
• Acidophilus yogurt
• Broccoli, Brussels sprouts
• Melon, Grapefruit
• Apple, Cherries
• Artichokes, Snap peas
• Sprouted beans and seeds
• Cabbage, Collards
• Eggplant, Guava
• Garlic, Leek, Lettuce
• Cauliflower, Celery
• Blueberry and most other berries
• Lemon and lime, Mango, Kelp
• Chestnut, Quinoa, Kohlrabi
• Seeds: hemp, pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, and flax
• Organic cold-pressed oils such as hemp, almond, avocado, coconut, olive, and walnut have a neutral pH of 7.

We all need protein in order for our body to function, but many protein-rich foods such as beans, legumes, meat, eggs, and some nuts are very acidic. A balanced diet of 65% alkalizing food and 35% acidic foods is the key. When we give our body what it needs in order to heal, amazing results can occur!

Tiger Shake RecipeSpiced date shakes are popular in India. This is a nice change from the frozen berry and banana shakes that can leave you chilled (not recommended for a winter morning). The hemp hearts, dates, and cinnamon have a warming and soothing effect on the body. Maca is also a reproductive tonic, meaning it protects against stress-induced imbalances in sex hormones. This shake gets its creaminess from the sterol-rich tahini, which is a wonderful immune booster.

(Makes 2 large or 3 shakes)

Ingredients:

  • 2½ cups water
  • 1 large apple, chopped
  • 2 large medjool dates, pitted
  • 1 Tbsp tahini
  • 1 Tbsp maca powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of pink sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp hemp hearts

1) Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Broccoli Wasabi Dip RecipeThe broccoli in this recipe produces a bright green dip that is packed with healing potential. And the wasabi, a type of radish, adds a blast of heat and aids digestion. The same isothiocyanates that give wasabi its cancer-fighting capabilities also help to reduce inflammation in arthritis, asthma, and allergic reactions. Wasabi also has anti-bacterial properties and is able to stop the growth of certain strains of bacteria that cause food poisoning. Make this an hour or two in advance so that the flavours have time to blend. (Makes 1½ cups)

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of broccoli
  • 1 Tbsp coconut butter
  • ½ onion, finely diced
  • ¼ cup fresh cashews
  • 1 tsp pink sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp wasabi powder
  • 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1) Cut broccoli into florets. Cook in boiling salted water until tender. Refresh under cold running water and drain well. Set aside.

2) In a small skillet over low heat, melt butter and add onion. Cook until soft and tender.

3) In a food processor, blend broccoli, onion, and cashews until smooth, using the ‘S’ blade.

4) Add salt, wasabi, and lemon juice. Blend until well mixed, check for seasoning. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

The fantastically talented Hannah Arthurs created this rich warming soup while doing her co-op placement with Daniluk Consulting. Salmon is one of nature’s highest sources of vitamin D, the ultimate immune booster. A number of studies have found that fish oil helps reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, including joint pain and morning stiffness. A study suggests that people with rheumatoid arthritis who take fish oil may be able to lower their dose of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

(Makes 8 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp ginger, grated
  • 2 medium onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups fennel, thinly sliced
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp pink sea salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ lb sockeye salmon
  • 1 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp lemon-flavoured fish oil (optional)

1) On medium heat, combine oil, honey, ginger, and onion in a large pot and sauté onions until translucent.

2) Add in water, shiitake mushrooms, bouillon, and fennel, then bring to a boil. Add salt, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Allow soup to simmer for 15-20 minutes and reduce down by about a cup.

3) Add in fish and poach for 10 minutes.

4) Top with parsley as a garnish. For an extra anti-inflammatory boost consider pouring fish oil on the soup as it cools.

Turkey is a great source of the amino acid tryptophan, which is a precursor to the relaxing neurotransmitter serotonin. It is also high in the amino acid tyrosine, which is a precursor to other neurotransmitters and hormones, including epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Supplying your adrenal glands with the nutrients they need to function will help prevent adrenal exhaustion.

Tomatoes are bursting with vitamin C, the antioxidant that not only protects your adrenals from free radical damage but also plays a role in the production of adrenal hormones and in the adrenals’ stress response. Healing vitamin A from the pumpkin and spaghetti squash will boost cellular energy production and support your tissues during and after stressful periods. Cilantro is a delicious topper to this nutrient-dense dish and is a powerful, detoxifying, medicinal herb that helps to cleanse the body of adrenal-poisoning heavy metals.

(Makes 6 servings)
Preheat oven to 375°F

Ingredients:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pink sea salt (to taste)
  • ½ lb green beans, blanched
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini, julienned
  • 1 cup fresh basil
  • 2 cups cilantro, finely chopped

1) Cut squash in half horizontally and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil and season with sea salt.

2) Place squash on a baking sheet and roast cut-side down for approximately 1 hour.

3) Separate stems and leaves from basil. Set stems aside for use in turkey sauce and place leaves in a small bowl to use as garnish for final dish.

4) When squash is cooked, use a fork to pull strands away from the sides. Place “spaghetti” strands in a large serving bowl.

5) Fill a pot with 1” filtered water and bring to a gentle boil. Turn off heat, add green beans, and toss gently for 1 minute. Drain and rinse under cool water.

6) Add blanched green beans, cherry tomatoes, and zucchini to the squash. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil and season with sea salt.

7) Top with turkey sauce, stir in cilantro, and garnish with coarsely chopped basil leaves.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pink rock and grey sea salt (to taste)
  • 1 lb ground (organic or free range) turkey
  • 1 bottle whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 cup fresh basil stems
  • ½ cup pumpkin puree

1) In a saucepan, gently warm onions and garlic with extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt to taste.

2) Add ground turkey and brown.

3) Crush tomatoes using your hands and add to pan with browned turkey.

4) Simmer for 30 minutes on low heat with basil stems (save basil leaves for garnish or for another dish).

5) Add pumpkin puree and stir until blended.

Healthy Chicken Stew RecipeShiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, an active compound that can boost your immune system, making it stronger and more capable of fighting various infections and diseases. Ginger and garlic are both powerful anti-inflammatory and immune-supportive spices. You will notice this soup has triple the spices and herbs of a standard soup. The active ingredient, allicin, in freshly crushed garlic works like a natural antibiotic so be sure you eat enough to get a real therapeutic effect!

(Makes 6 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 lbs (organic or free range) chicken thighs, skin- and bone-free
  • 4 large carrots
  • 2 Tbsp stone-ground mustard
  • 1 inch ginger root, minced
  • 3 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cups peach or applesauce
  • ½ tsp pink sea salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 cups Swiss chard, cut into ribbons

1) Cook onions, mushrooms, oil, and white wine in large saucepan over medium-high heat for 2 minutes or until onions soften.

2) Add chicken and cook for another 15 minutes.

3) Add carrots, spices, sauce, salt, and water and cook 5 minutes longer.

4) Add Swiss chard and cook another 5 minutes.

5) Serve immediately into large bowls.

Pumpkin Rice Pudding with Cranberries RecipeIt may shock you to learn that 1 in 130 people have a severe reaction to gluten (celiac disease) and remain unaware of it until the damage is pronounced. Moreover, many people, as high as 1 in 10, have gluten sensitivities as a result of eating the same refined flour choices every day. Our environment and what we eat is causing our immune system to be on red alert! We react to things, such as wheat, that 50 years ago would have been a healthy choice. That is why I encourage you to enjoy this healthy gluten-free dessert this holiday season!
(Makes 8 servings)

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups almond milk (water can be substituted if needed)
  • 1 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • Pinch of pink sea salt
  • 1/3 cup apple-juice-sweetened dried cranberries
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup shelled hemp seeds
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ¼ cup yaçon syrup or honey (optional)

1) Bring almond milk, rice, zest, and salt to a boil in an uncovered pot over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 45 minutes.

2) Add cranberries and cinnamon. Cook on low for another 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. The rice should be very creamy.

3) Stir vanilla into pudding. Simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Fold coconut milk, hemp seeds, and pumpkin puree into pudding. Sprinkle with cinnamon. If desired, sweeten with a drizzle of yaçon syrup or honey.

References:
Seaman. 1998 Clinical Nutrition for pain, inflammation and tissue healing.
Hattori et al. 2010. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (eCAM). 7(1): 63-68.
Popescu et al. 2007. Bulletin of University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Cluj-Napoca. Animal Science and Biotechnologies. 64(1-2): 1-3.
Presoto et al. 2004. Journal of the Brazilian Chemical Society. 15(1): 136-139.
USDA. 2009. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page. http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl.
Acin-Perez et al. 2010. The FASEB Journal. 24(2): 627-636.
Head and Kelly. 2009. Alternative Medicine Review. 14(2): 114-140.
Mercola and Klinghardt. 2001. Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. 11(1): 53-62.
USDA. 2009. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page. http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl.

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