Inflammation, while a perfectly normal, helpful occurrence in our bodies, is (like anything) harmful in excess. There are a number of causes of excessive (read: damaging) inflammation, and therefore, a number of potential remedies. Naturally, due to my career as a Registered Dietitian, the first one I aim to correct is nutrition.
The best way to get the maximum healing benefits of the compounds that are naturally found in the foods we eat are by ingesting them in their most natural forms. Spices are an excellent way to make sure this happens, since they are minimally processed-usually just dried and ground. (Remember to always turn your food around In this form, they're perfect for sprinkling in or on your favorite foods and drinks! Try some of the ideas below, and let me know if you have any of your own, or how these go for you!
A lovely, bright yellow-orange spice that has been used for years to combat inflammation, turmeric goes with everything from baked chicken to milk. Golden Milk is a soothing beverage dating back to ancient India that is a simple mixture of turmeric and warm milk, with modern versions including other complementary spices like cardamom and cinnamon, and being made with plant-based milk products (like oat milk) instead of dairy milk. This spice also boasts antiseptic, anti-microbial, and anti-allergic properties.
What's not to love about this sweet spice? In ground or stick form, it pairs beautifully with fruit (like apples and pears), baked goods, and my favorite-OATMEAL! Whether you're making some easy Overnight Oats or you prefer them piping hot in the morning, a generous dash or two of cinnamon will boost those heart-healthy oats with a wave of anti-inflammatory flavor!
Fresh or dried, whole or ground, ginger is another versatile addition to a wide variety of dishes. I love the tasty punch fresh or powdered ginger gives a Tofu Stir Fry, but it is also an essential ingredient in many sweet recipes, including the famously adored (or loathed) pumpkin spice!
While this spice may be a bit intense for some people, just a pinch goes a long way if you're making a large batch of something, like Sweet Potato Salad, a casserole, or some soup. Fiery as it may be, cayenne is also flavorful, so find your tolerance level and enjoy! As with cinnamon, some people find it hard to believe that anything "spicy" can be anti-inflammatory, but it's true! Spices that fight inflammation do so through chemical compounds naturally contained in them that block inflammation pathways, reducing or even stopping the body's inflammatory response, so while your mouth may feel like it's on fire, the rest of your body is not.
Ah, garlic... how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... It's been said you don't measure garlic by weight, or by volume-you measure it with your heart. Nothing could be closer to the truth for me. Though some people experience trouble with raw garlic (gas, bloating, garlic breath... watch out, vampires!), it's much more mild in ground and dried form, or in cooked form. Simple Avocado Toast that's easy on your belly just takes toasted sourdough bread, 1/4 to 1 whole avocado (depending on size and preference) mashed and spread or sliced and laid, and a sprinkle of Trader Joe's Everything But the Bagel Seasoning (which contains dried garlic), or your own mix of spices. I recommend turmeric, fresh-ground black pepper, cayenne, granulated (or ground) garlic, and a pinch of kosher salt (sea salt works, too). You can make a blend customized to your personal taste and keep it in your pantry, or you can order some from me here!
For maximum flavor and benefit, I recommend purchasing your black pepper whole (it should look like a bunch of tiny round berries-because they are!-that range in color from brown to black to pink to red) and grinding it yourself. This way, you can control how fine or coarse you'd like it depending on what you're using it in. I personally like coarse grind on my salads and a fine grind in sauces, like my Gut-Friendly Spaghetti Sauce. Turmeric and black pepper actually magnify each others' benefits when consumed together, so maybe keep a turmeric/pepper blend in a shaker in your spice rack and see what it tastes best in!
All of these recipes are being optimized and will be published to the website once they're good to go (i.e. with more specific measurements than "however much garlic your heart calls for"), so check back in soon!