What does food have to do with chronic illness? A lot. Treat yourself and your gut to these delicious, anti-inflammatory dishes. Dinner is served!
Having a happy gut can go a long way to feeling better and managing chronic health issues. Chronic inflammation often goes hand-in-hand with chronic diseases, causing pain and a host of other symptoms throughout your body.
Thankfully, we can support our body’s ability to feel better by fueling up with whole foods that are dense with nutrients that the body can use to reduce inflammation.
It’s important to note that each person with gut issues will have to determine which foods are triggers for their condition. Keeping a food diary and then discussing it with a registered dietitian or GI specialist may be very helpful.
Other lifestyle interventions, such as stress management and adequate sleep, are also helpful.
These seven delicious recipes are anti-inflammatory and tasty, getting you one bite closer to a happy gut and healthy you.
To me, there’s nothing better than the crispy skin off of chicken thighs. This recipe takes them to the next level with a dose of tangy pineapple-mint salsa.
Thighs are a relatively inexpensive cut of chicken, so this recipe is cost-effective, too. But the superstar ingredient is pineapple. It has an abundance of vitamin C, B vitamins, and minerals — and contains a special enzyme called bromelain, which helps support digestion.
Why grass-fed beef? Cows are ruminants and meant to eat mostly grasses. Yet, our modern agricultural system has turned to cheaper ways of feeding cows, like wheat, corn, soy, and by-products, which also make the cows get bigger faster.
When the cow eats foods it shouldn’t, it becomes unhealthy — just like us.
Properly fed cows equal healthy cows, and healthy cows equals healthy meat for us.
This colorful recipe beats a regular old burger because it’s also filled with veggies loaded with fiber and antioxidant power.
This tastes like an indulgent cream-based soup, but instead uses dairy-free coconut milk. The recipe fits the criteria for many healing diets like paleo and AIP (autoimmune protocol).
Broccoli and cauliflower are both part of the brassica family, a nutrient powerhouse. Also called “cruciferous vegetables,” these goodies are especially high in carotenoids, which are the precursor to making vitamin A and are touted for their many health benefits.
Another star of this dish is bone broth.
Bone broth is incredibly soothing to our gastrointestinal system. It’s a dense source of amino acids, minerals, collagen, and other substances that help to repair the gut lining. Try making it at home for the most cost-effective and delicious broth.
This soup gets bonus points because it’s freezable, which is perfect for fatigue-filled days.
How do you dress up drumsticks to give them a gourmet edge? Figs!
In most places, fresh figs are seasonal, so get ’em while you can. Figs are a source of potassium, among other minerals, and fiber, which supports regular digestion. And they’re so tasty — whether they’re sliced up in salads or used in a heartier dish like this one.
Scared of cooking fish? This recipe shows you how to make salmon in a simple, less intimidating way.
There are so many benefits to salmon. Most commonly talked about are its high amounts of omega-3 fats.
Omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and that alone makes salmon a perfect food for those living with chronic illness. This healthy source of protein is also rich in B vitamins and vitamin D.
Serve with your favorite sides, and don’t forget the lemon wedges!
Spaghetti squash is a hidden gem among squashes. You can make it as a side dish or into a main meal because of its similarity to spaghetti.
I love this recipe because it incorporates diverse nutrient profiles, and the bright sauce adds a burst of creaminess from the avocado.
For the main dish:
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 lb. cooked chicken breast
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 bundle asparagus, steamed and chopped into
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
For the sauce:
- 2 avocados
- 1/4 cup and 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup fresh basil leaves
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 clove garlic
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (191°C).
- Slice the spaghetti squash in half (I do it the long
way, but both ways work), and scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with a little bit of
olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Place face down on a baking sheet.
- Put into the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes or
longer, until the skin is easily pierced and you can shred the insides.
- While the spaghetti squash is cooking, steam and slice
the asparagus, cut the chicken breast, and halve the grape tomatoes.
- To make the sauce, add the avocado and 1/4 cup of olive
oil into a food processor or blender. Blend, then add the basil leaves, sea
salt, garlic, and more olive oil by the tablespoon as needed.
- When the spaghetti squash is done, shred the insides
and add to a large serving bowl. Add the ingredients you chopped, plus 1 tbsp.
of olive oil and 1 tsp. sea salt and toss.
- Drizzle over the sauce before enjoying.
Turmeric is a spice that’s been used medicinally for years, especially in Ayurvedic medicine. Curcumin is the substance in turmeric that provides a potent reduction in inflammation.
Adding turmeric to your food is a simple way to kick it up with an anti-inflammatory punch! Pair it with lemon, another anti-inflammatory food that’s packed with vitamin C (crucial for the immune system) and helps with many digestive ailments.
For the salad:
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 lb. chicken breast
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. turmeric
- zest of 1 lemon, plus a drizzle of lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup strawberries
- 6 cups fresh spinach
For the dressing:
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1/8 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
- Use an already roasted sweet potato, or roast one
medium sweet potato at 350°F (177°C) for one hour, remove from the skin, and
cut into rounds.
- While the sweet potato is baking, set a large skillet
on medium heat. Season the chicken on both sides with 1 tsp. sea salt,
turmeric, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Once the skillet is hot, add 1 tbsp.
olive oil and add the chicken to the pan.
- Flip the chicken after about 10 minutes, then cook for
another 10 minutes. When finished, slice into strips.
- Slice the strawberries.
- Add the spinach to a large salad bowl. Place the sweet
potato, chicken, and strawberries on top.
- Now mix the dressing. In a small bowl, add 1/4 cup
olive oil, lemon juice, 1/4 tsp. sea salt, and black pepper. Mix well and
drizzle over the salad before serving.
Who says you can’t eat amazing food AND keep your gut happy and healthy?!
Alexa Federico is a nutritional therapy practitioner, real food and autoimmune blogger, and author of “The Complete Guide to Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis: A Road Map to Long-Term Healing,” now available on Amazon. When she’s not testing tasty recipes, you can find her enjoying her New England backyard or reading with a cup of tea. Alexa’s main hub is her blog, Girl in Healing, and she loves to show a piece of her world through Instagram.