This delicious dish is a copycat of a breakfast from a favorite restaurant of ours – the Ironwork Grill at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge in Forest Grove, Oregon. The original is made with a dill sauce but I always swap it for this dijon aioli, and I’ve never been disappointed!
The salmon, veggies, and potatoes make this a complete, protein- and potassium-laden anti-inflammatory power meal. Plus, it is so, so tasty and very easy to make!
We LOVE pizza at our house – especially as Super Bowl season draws near! Unfortunately, our Seahawks didn’t make the playoffs this year, but we can still enjoy the spirit of the game with a few slices of pizza pie. Store-bought pizza sauces can sometimes contain added sugar or, more often, high levels of sodium. Not to mention the sodium in everything else that goes on your favorite pizza!
If you’re looking to eat less sodium or simply cook more from scratch, this pizza sauce recipe is a great option! It’s very easy and fast to make – just stir it up in 5 minutes and spread it on your favorite pizza! The tomatoes, herbs, and spices add an antioxidant punch to any pizza-flavored dish.
5-Minute Heart Healthy Pizza Sauce
If you’re looking to cut sodium or simply cook more from scratch, this pizza sauce recipe is a great option! It’s very easy and fast to make – just stir it up in 5 minutes and spread it on your favorite pizza! The tomatoes, herbs, and spices add an antioxidant punch to any pizza-flavored dish.
15 oz. canned tomato sauce ((no salt added))
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp ground red pepper
1/4 tsp garlic salt
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp basil
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Contains 4 g carbohydrate, 1 g protein, 0 g fat, 63 mg sodium per 1/8 cup serving.
When you’re aiming to be less inflamed, it can be worthwhile to look beyond regular foods to supplements and what I’m calling “add-ins” – foods/condiments to intentionally put on or in your food because of their anti-inflammatory benefits. Check out all the options:
Brightly-colored spices have high antioxidant content that can be powerfully anti-inflammatory. Several have specifically been researched and tested for efficacy in managing blood sugar in diabetes, though their anti-inflammatory properties can be beneficial for muscle soreness, recovery after exercise, and metabolic syndrome.1-4
You can take these supplements in concentrated capsules (stick to the recommended dosage) or make a concerted effort to add brightly-colored spices to your food regularly.
2. Fish Oil/Omega-3s/Borage Oil
Increasing intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have been demonstrated to reduce inflammation. They are currently being researched and tested for treatment of many health factors, from prevention of dementia (dementia rates decreased in 19 out of 22 reported studies in a review)5 and cancer to lower cholesterol.6-7
To increase your intake of omega-3s, you can eat more fish, walnuts, flax seed, and chia seeds. Chia is one of my personal favorites because it contains a high concentration of omega-3s and has nearly no flavor. I mix them into oatmeal, smoothies, and yogurt. If you take a capsule supplement, be sure to find one that states it is “burpless” or “enteric-coated.” That ensures the capsules go alllllll the way into your intestines before dissolving, preventing unpleasantly fishy-tasting burps/breath.
3. Tart Cherries
These tart little guys are becoming big news in the anti-inflammatory scene, largely for treatment of inflammatory joint pain caused by conditions like arthritis and gout. Some research with dosing tart cherry has shown similar decreases in pain to leading medications for arthritis and gout.8-10
You can eat them canned, dried, in supplement form, or drink 100% tart cherry juice.
4. Vitamin D
Vitamin D has been shown to be important not only for preventing cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, and many types of cancers, but also plays a role in improving depression.5
We get a lot less vitamin D these days than we used to. Our primary sources are sunlight (15-20 minutes of sunlight helps our skin make its own vitamin D!) and fortified foods like milk, other dairy, and fruit juices. Supplements are also an option. Ask your doctor to check your vitamin D levels and if they are low, consider working on boosting your intake with food or supplementation.
Need some help with an anti-inflammatory diet? Here are my top tips and my two favorite recipe websites from my experiences:
1. Look for Asian, Indian, and Mexican recipes made with lean meats. They will usually contain plenty of anti-inflammatory spices and avoiding fatty meats means avoiding inflammatory saturated fat.
2. Can you put veggies in that? Sure you can! It helped me to have a container of cut-up veggies in the fridge or freezer all the time to put in pretty much whatever I was making to make my fruit + veggie quota for the day.
3. Snack on fruit. Fruit makes a great stand-alone snack and adds a nice dose of anti-inflammatory antioxidants throughout the day.
4. Evaluate each meal for the possibility of an anti-inflammatory “add-in.” By that I mean something you can put in it or on it to boost its anti-inflammatory properties (like cinnamon, turmeric, chia seeds, flax seeds, or walnuts). Most dishes will do nicely with at least one of these guys, and often more than one. Sneaking little bits into each meal and snack will increase the overall anti-inflammatory power of your diet. Read this post for more tips on add-ins.
5. Find at least one fish you like, and eat it a few times a week. Fish is an excellent anti-inflammatory protein that is also low in saturated fat. Experiment – maybe you prefer whitefish like cod or tilapia, or maybe you prefer pink fish like salmon. Tuna? Mackerel?
6. Cook with an oil that has a high omega-3 content and tolerates high heat well. Canola oil is my favorite! FYI – olive oil contains a much high ratio of pro-inflammatory omega-6s to anti-inflammatory omega-3s (1:11) than canola oil (1:2), plus it is not stable at high heats. Save olive oil for low-temp sauteing and salad dressings.
7. Recognize when you tend to crave sweets and have a plan to avoid excessive sugar intake. Find anti-inflammatory alternatives, like an enjoyable exercise, social activity, or tasty fruit-based snack.
8. Seriously and honestly assess your stress relief practices. Stress relief is more than just functioning in spite of stress, it’s making an intentional effort to work through and eliminate mental and emotional stressors. Stress can wreak havoc on your body through many ways besides inflammation!
Looking for Anti-Inflammatory Recipes? Check out these websites for great information and inspiration.
The short answer? Just about everybody. The average person is wandering around with more inflammation going on than is healthy.1 There are certain conditions, though, that can really see improvement by following an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. In fact, depending on the condition and severity, dietary changes have led to improvements greater or equal to those of medications. Here’s a list of conditions that are related to inflammation and can be improved by incorporating some anti-inflammatory changes to your diet and lifestyle:
Obesity – high levels of excess fat, especially fat around the waist, are associated with an increase in overall inflammation in the body, which can lead to insulin resistance (diabetes’ slightly less ugly cousin) and heart disease1
Diabetes – insulin resistance (mentioned above) is the precursor to diabetes, and is caused largely by inflammation1
Heart Disease – atherosclerosis is an inflammatory condition in the arteries that can lead to heart attack, stroke, or clots2, 3
Arthritis, Gout, and Chronic Pain – these conditions obviously lead to painful joints, and it’s not always true, but in this case, pain = inflammation4,5
Frequent Headaches – again, usually (but not always), pain = inflammation6
Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), and Celiac Disease – these conditions are all linked to inflammation in the gut, which then leads to, well…you don’t want to know
Dementia (prevention) – there are quite a few connections between chronic inflammation and the progression of dementia, unfortunately it seems we have to nip this one in the bud before it happens7
Endometriosis, PCOS, PMS/Cramps, and other Reproductive Health Issues – each of these has a different link to inflammation, but it typically boils down to either pain or, in the case of PCOS, insulin resistance.8 Not based on any research, I can say from personal experience that eating the anti-inflammatory diet made a significant decrease in my cramps (and I’ve seen this for several clients and friends as well).
If you have one of these conditions or just hope to be a happy, healthy human – click here to learn more about anti-inflammatory eating!
Disclaimer: To be clear, I do not recommend that you cease taking medications prescribed by your doctor without his or her approval. Dietary changes do not always replace medication, particularly in severe cases or with specific conditions. Discuss your goals with your doctor and find a Registered Dietitian to assist you in improving your overall health. If you live in Washington state, come see me!
Thanks for being patient with me as I navigate the land of the computer-less. I’m still on the hunt for a new Surface Pro.
Meanwhile, I finished my anti-inflammatory diet on Monday. I was telling my husband that this has to be in the top two for the most enjoyable eating style I’ve tried (tied with carb counting). You can still eat most anything, and it truly makes a difference for me to mentally focus on getting in good stuff rather than cutting out “forbidden” foods (like when I was on Paleo).
I can’t say that I felt much different necessarily, with the exception of one noticeable thing. Plug your ears if it weirds you out guys, but when the natural disaster occurred this month, my normally 4-6 level cramps were easily only 1-3. I’ve noticed before that there is a connection between my hydration/diet and my cramps, but this was pretty dang sweet.
Eating an anti-inflammatory diet was mildly restrictive, but largely enjoyable. I didn’t mind adding chia seeds and avocado to stuff and including lots of spices – they add tons of flavor and keep food interesting! Overall, anti-inflammatory is one of my favorite eating styles to date. I will blog more soon about the specific types of conditions/people that can benefit from eating this way. In the meantime, enjoy your Father’s Day weekend!
Sorry for the delay in posting – I’ve been experiencing technical difficulties. And by “technical difficulties” I mean that my work tablet took a brief swim and is now resting in a pan of rice. 🙁 Pray for dry insides!
Anyhoo, as you may know, eating out and eating well can be a challenge. My favorite mantra for eating out:
You can make a “bad” choice just about everywhere, you can make a “good” choice pretty much anywhere, but you can always make the best choice for where you are.
Life happens. Food is a (wonderful!) part of life. By all means, eat out and enjoy it! Making choices when eating out depends a lot on how frequently you eat out. If you mostly cook at home and eat out once or twice a month or only on special occasions, ignore this post. Go out on your date night, anniversary, or family fun night and enjoy it. Don’t worry about this – it’s not a big enough portion of your whole eating picture to matter that much. I’m not advocating an all-out binge, but you should order what you want and move on.
On the other hand, if eating out is more frequent for you – maybe you travel or life is just busy – the story is different. You will have to tailor your eating out for your health goals if you ever hope to meet them. If you’re hoping to eat well with an eye towards decreasing inflammation, here are some tips from my experiences in the last few weeks:
We’ve eaten Asian food out twice since I started anti-inflammatory. Once we went to a new (to us) local Asian fusion restaurant that essentially offers a Subway-style, build-your-own sushi wrap, bowl, or salad. When eating out along these lines, choose foods without too much carbohydrate and get lots of veggies. Choose fish (especially salmon) – it’s high in anti-inflammatory omega-3s! If you’re up for spicy, add in brightly-colored spicy sauces, but go easy on those with sugar like teriyaki or sweet chili sauce. The seaweed in sushi is loaded with antioxidants too. I really wanted a sushi wrap so I asked for a light layer of rice, got miso soup on the side, and only ate half of the wrap.
Another day we went to a Korean restaurant. This one was easy – I love bibimbap! If you aren’t familiar, it’s a crackly, delicious cauldron of rice, tons of veggies, a meat of your choice, and an egg. I chose chicken and added loads of the optional veggie add-ins at the table (especially kimchi, which not only has colorful spices but also contains probiotics). Again, I saved half for later.
This one was tricky because (by far) my favorite type of Italian food is pasta, and most pasta dishes are just that – a giant plate of carbohydrates with a creamy, buttery inflammatory sauce. Hmph. I had to do a little finagling for this one. I decided I would still get pasta but choose a lean meat, an olive-oil based vinaigrette sauce, and lots of colorful vegetables. In this case, I picked a seafood pasta (to up the omega-3s) with tomatoes, onions, and asparagus. To prevent eating too many carbs I only ate half (are you noticing a pattern?). A vegetable-based sauce (like marinara) would have worked nicely too. Watch out for too much cheese or the absurd amount of delicious carbohydrates like breadsticks with pasta, pasta, and more pasta!
If you weren’t so much a pasta person, a salad with Italian vinaigrette or a chicken breast with marinara sauce could be a less inflammatory choice.
A friend’s birthday dinner took us to a seafood restaurant. Seafood is anti-inflammatory as long as it’s not covered in butter or alfredo sauce (darn it), so you can choose a fillet of salmon or whitefish with veggies and a starch any time. I opted for a cioppino – basically seafood stewed in a tomato-based sauce with herbs and spices. High in antioxidants and omega-3s! It came with one slice of bread (plus in the spirit of full disclosure, I ate a slice of sourdough as an appetizer too). I skipped a drink and opted for water instead. Since my entree wasn’t inflammatory and it was delicious and reasonably portioned, I ate the whole thing!
We didn’t actually go out to an Indian restaurant in the last three weeks, but it could be a great place to go for an anti-inflammatory meal because of all of the beautiful spices they use! Keep your rice/naan portion reasonable, choose a sauce that is brightly-colored but not creamy, like curry, and get a brightly-colored veggie for a side (like palak paneer). This is a great opportunity to go meatless and choose a lentil- or garbanzo-based dish as well!