Three Simple Ways to Cook and Drink the Anti-Inflammatory Way
Beets & Arugula Mise en Places
Today, many nutrition experts and MDs advocate the anti-inflammatory way of eating. I first learned about this concept in 2004 while working in branding/marketing/licensing with Dr. Andrew Weil, of Weil Lifestyle LLC. In Weil’s book Healthy Aging, he wrote about inflammation being the root cause of many diseases, including diabetes, obesity, heart disease, arthritis, depression, age-related macular degeneration, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Since inflammation is believed to be the root cause of so many health issues, we can positively affect our lives in many ways by reducing it in our body. The food we eat, our cooking and our lifestyle all affect inflammation in our body. Thus, it’s essential for all of us to do our best to reduce it with anti-inflammatory foods and lifestyle choices, rather than pro-inflammatory foods and lifestyle choices.
Three Steps to Reduce Inflammation in Our Body
Step 1: Enjoy Anti-Inflammatory Foods. Let’s enjoy anti-inflammatory foods with a few simple ways to create healthy dishes featuring our local Arizona farmers’ summer produce. The key is to cook using a few anti-inflammatory foods in each meal. Enjoy the anti-inflammatory recipes in this article (including a Cold Tomato Soup and a quick Roasted Beets and Arugula Sauté) and let them be your guide to creating anti-inflammatory dishes.
Step 2: Drink Anti-Inflammatory Beverages. Along with cooking and eating anti-inflammatory foods, we can reduce inflammation by drinking simple beverages. Green tea, ginger tea and turmeric tea are all incredible anti-inflammatory beverages you can make right at home. Green tea is the most popular beverage in the world after water, and has become more and more popular in the U.S. in the last decade; and cold or warm ginger and turmeric tea are both anti-inflammatory and refreshing.
Step 3: Five Ways (Beyond Food and Beverage) to Live an Anti-Inflammatory Lifestyle.
In addition to food and beverage, lifestyle affects inflammation. The following are five ways to live a lifestyle that is anti-inflammatory:
- Enjoy Life. Live your passion, do the work you love, be in a positive relationship, have fun, and be happy. Take a moment to reflect on the different areas of your life: career, relationships, exercise and health. Get a sheet of paper and a pen and jot down a sentence or two on where you are at in each of these areas. Next, write down a short-term (month) and longer-term (year) goal for each of the areas. Lastly, write a specific action concerning one of the areas that you’d like to focus on this month.
- Practice Self-Care. We all have different ways to practice self-care; that is to participate in activities just for us. For some, it’s out in nature—for others, yoga or meditation; for some it’s golf—for others it’s boating, or even mindful cooking. Self-care could be a 3-minute morning tea or affirmation ritual; 2-hour hike in the mountains; or a weekend getaway to the beach or mountains. Right now, I invite you to create a “self-care menu” with 5 to 10 of your favorite ways to enjoy self-care. Use this menu as your personal guide to practice self-care every day. Remember, when we practice this important function, we reduce inflammation in our body.
- Live in a Clean Environment. Our environment affects inflammation—pollution, second-hand smoke, toxins in home cleaning products, even clutter. While we do not have control over all of the pro-inflammatory elements in our surroundings, we can make certain changes. Take a moment to reflect on your environment and how you might be able to reduce negative influences.
- Be Mindful in the Kitchen. Think quiet, calm, peace, being in the moment. Mindfulness ties to self-care. Mindfulness may be meditation, being in the zone when golfing, or even being very present in the kitchen while cooking. When selecting the beautiful veggies to cook, pause and enjoy their colors and textures. When chopping, be totally in the moment with the smooth chopping rhythm. When cooking, single-task and focus on the moment-by-moment cooking process. Focus on stirring the veggie sauté, placing veggies on the sheet pan for roasting, or enjoying the natural aromatherapy of the food cooking. When plating, place your veggies on the plate mindfully and beautifully. Remember, we eat with our eyes first. And, finally, enjoy the beautiful meal you prepared quietly, with candles, music and flowers.
- Take Action. Take a moment to reflect on the other influences in your life beyond food and beverage—passion, self-care, environment and mindfulness in the kitchen. Commit to one action that you will take to enjoy life even more.
Quick, Easy and Delicious Anti-Inflammatory Recipes
These simple, delicious, whole-food recipes are all inspired by anti-inflammatory foods and created with our local Arizona farmers’ beautiful summer produce from our farmers’ markets. Thank you, farmers!
Summer Farm-to-Table Cold Tomato Gazpacho Soup
There are so many reasons to enjoy tomatoes. Tomatoes are anti-inflammatory, great for hydration, in-season in June and July, grown by our local Arizona organic farmers, and simply beautiful.
Tomato gazpacho is a perfect, refreshing summertime soup. For a cold tomato gazpacho, shop at your favorite farmers’ market and choose about six beautiful tomatoes. The tomatoes can be all shapes, sizes, varieties and colors. Think about one tomato per person per serving, and if you’d like leftovers.
Yields: 6 servings
6 medium-size tomatoes, rough chopped
1 green onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cucumber, diced
1 bell pepper, diced
Pinch sea salt
Handful fresh herb, torn into small pieces: cilantro or dill
- Chop all ingredients.
- Place half of tomatoes into large bowl.
- Add a pinch of salt. Remember, salt brings out the flavor in veggies; we do not want to taste the flavor of salt.
- Massage tomatoes with hands for about 5 minutes to release liquid from the tomatoes.
- Add other ingredients.
- Option: Blend one-half of the veggies into a puree in a blender. After blending, add the pureed vegetables to the remaining chopped veggies.
- Let soup rest for 20-30 minutes.
Arugula Sauté. Roasted Beets
This quick veggie dish is inspired by fresh baby arugula and golden and red beets from our local Arizona farmers. The fresh and earthy essence of the beets combines with the grassy spiciness of the arugula to create a balanced-flavor side dish.
Yields: 2 servings
- 3-4 fresh sprigs of dill
- 3 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 medium golden beets, sliced
- 2-3 small red beets, sliced in half
- Pinch sea salt
- 2 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
- 6 medium or small tomatoes, rough chopped
- Pinch sea salt
- 1-inch ginger root, minced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup fresh arugula
- ⅓ fresh lemon, juiced
- 2 Tbsp goji berries, soaked in water for 10 minutes
- 2 Tbsp pistachios, rough chopped
- 2 Tbsp dried mulberries
- Pour olive oil and dill into blender.
- Blend for about 3 minutes.
- Strain oil with small strainer.
- Slice beets.
- Preheat oven to 350° F.
- Coat beets with olive oil and sea salt.
- Place on parchment-lined sheet pan.
- Roast for about 10 minutes.
- Flip and roast for another 10 minutes.
Sauté Arugula and Tomatoes
- Preheat medium sauté pan at medium-low heat.
- Add olive oil to the pan.
- Sweat tomatoes for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add ginger and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add arugula, lemon juice, and sea salt.
- Cover pan and steam for about 3 minutes.
Plate and enjoy with the garnishes.
Drink to Reduce Inflammation
Along with cooking and eating anti-inflammatory foods, we can reduce inflammation by drinking simple beverages. Make your own anti-inflammatory tea with a few easy steps.
1 tsp matcha tea powder
1 cup almost-boiling water
- Place about 1 tsp matcha tea powder into your matcha teacup or bowl.
- Add the almost-boiling water to the cup.
- Whisk with a bamboo whisk.
- Sit quietly and enjoy.
Green Tea and Matcha Tips
Do not burn the delicate tea leaves with boiling water. Bring your water to “almost” a boil to steep the tea. Enjoy!
Experiment with different varieties of matcha and green tea leaves to find the ones you enjoy the most. Try single-varietal Japanese green tea favorites, sencha and gyokuro.
Turmeric or Ginger Root Tea
1-inch ginger or turmeric root, sliced
2 cups water
Pinch black pepper for turmeric tea
- Place water, ginger or turmeric root into a small sauce pan.
- Add a pinch of black pepper for turmeric tea.
- Bring water to a boil.
- Reduce to simmer for 10-15 minutes.
- Enjoy warm or refrigerate for a few hours to drink cold.
Root Tea Tips:
Add a pinch of cracked pepper to your turmeric tea to increase the bioavailability of the anti-inflammatory properties of the turmeric.
Enjoy ginger and turmeric tea hot or cold.
Add local raw honey, lemon or fresh herbs, such as lemon verbena or basil, to your cold tea.
Melanie Albert, founder and CEO of Experience Nutrition Group LLC, in Phoenix, is the author of the award-winning cookbook A New View of Healthy Eating and healthy recipe blog at EXPNutrition.com, and offers cooking workshops, team building events, and retreats. Recipes and photos courtesy of Albert. For more information, visit EXPNutrition.com.