Inflammation is a scary word.
Inflammation is the body’s natural response to an injury or attack on the immune system. We most often associate surface inflammation with heat, pain, redness, and swelling. This is the kind of inflammation we can feel. Then there’s inflammation at the cellular level. What’s scary about this kind of inflammation is that we don’t necessarily feel or associate it with anything, but it is at the root of so many chronic issues including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more. There are a variety of things that play a role in our bodies inflammation levels including environmental factors, stress, injury, family history, diet, and more. However, there are also many steps we can take to decrease our risk. One of the easiest ways to start eliminating inflammation is by examining what we are putting into our bodies on a daily basis.
Foods to avoid (inflammatory):
omega-6 fatty acids (processed oils, chips), refined sugars + grains, alcohol, packaged + processed foods, dairy, red meat)
Foods to enjoy (anti-inflammatory):
turmeric, blueberries, greens, omega-3 fatty acids (healthy fats), green tea, sea vegetables, water with lemon
Below are some of my favorite plant-strong meals to begin calming inflammation in one-day!
Blueberry Matcha Green Smoothie
(Makes 1 Serving)
1-1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
1 big handful spinach or kale
1/3 frozen banana
1/4 cup frozen blueberries
1-2 Tbs chia seeds
1-2 Tbs almond butter or unrefined coconut oil
1/2-1 serving vegan vanilla protein powder
1 tsp matcha
1/2-1 tsp spirulina
a dash of cinnamon
bee pollen, to top
1. Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy! Top with bee pollen, optional.
Chopped Kale Salad
(Makes 1 Serving)
1 bunch lacinato/dino kale
1/3 cup beans, lentils, or quinoa
1-2 Tbs raw sunflower seeds, to top
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 Tbs organic extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp nutritional yeast
a pinch of sea salt
a sprinkle of hemp seeds, to top
1. De-stem the kale by making a claw like motion with your pointer and middle finger. Then clean the kale in a salad spinner or simply rinse and pat dry.
2. Little by little, place kale in a food processor and pulse until chopped. Make sure not to over chop so the kale doesn't become mushy!
3. Add in the nutritional yeast, sea salt, olive oil, and lemon juice. Then pulse again to combine.
4. Remove kale from food processor and place into a bowl. Add in the nuts or seeds and legumes or quinoa* and mix together.
*Because grains are acid forming, try adding a thumb-size strip of kombu seaweed to the pot of quinoa while it’s cooking. Once the quinoa is done, remove the strip of kombu. The quinoa will have soaked up all of the seaweed’s amazing nutrients making it a more alkaline grain. Kombu is high in iodine, which is essential for thyroid functioning, as well as iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Kombu can also be used when cooking beans. If you are someone who suffers from gas or bloating after eating beans but want to incorporate more of them into your diet, I recommend cooking beans for scratch and adding a strip of kombu. The seaweed helps to break down the raffinose sugars in beans, which is what causes gas.
Carrot Ginger Soup
(Makes 6 Servings)
1 can unsweetened light coconut milk
2 cups vegetable broth
a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 inches fresh ginger, minced
1 small-medium yellow onion, chopped
1 pound bag of carrots, peeled or well washed + chopped
1 medium sweet potato, peeled + cubed
1 Tbs curry powder, optional
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt + a pinch of black pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp onion powder
1. Drizzle olive or coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add minced garlic and ginger. Sauté for two minutes, stirring frequently. Then add onions and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
2. Add chopped carrots and sweet potato, along with curry powder, cinnamon, turmeric, onion powder, sea salt, and black pepper. Stir and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Then pour in coconut milk, and vegetable broth and stir to combine.
3. Bring soup to a light boil then cover and reduce heat to low and let simmer for about 30-35 minutes or until vegetables are soft.
4. Using an immersion blender, or transferring soup to a blender (recommended), blend the soup until smooth and creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed (I like to add an extra dash or two of each seasoning here and quickly blend again).
5. Add soup to a bowl and top with raw cashews or pumpkin seeds (optional). Cover leftovers and place in the fridge or freezer.
Everyone knows that turmeric takes the vegan cake when it comes to calming inflammation. Enjoying a warm cup of Golden Mylk is one of my favorite ways to wind down at night. With it’s warming, grounding qualities, this anti-inflammatory powerhouse is the perfect addition to your already plant-strong day. Make a cup in the evening or in the afternoon for a little calming snack!
(Makes 1 Serving)
1.5 cups unsweetened almond, coconut, or hemp milk
2-3 drops of stevia or 1/2 Tbs of unrefined sweetener of choice, optional
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract, optional
pinch of black pepper
1. Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, whisking all ingredients together for up to 20 minutes. Pour into a mug and enjoy!