Nutrition plays a vital role in boosting our health. And if you live with multiple sclerosis (MS), you know all too well how critical diet is in managing the symptoms that come with this autoimmune disease.
After her MS diagnosis in 2000, Wahls decided to do a deep dive into the research around food and the role it plays in autoimmune diseases. What she discovered is that a nutrient-rich paleo diet — high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids — helped reduce her symptoms.
The Wahls Protocol differs from the paleo diet in one way: It calls for more fruits and veggies.
If you decide to try the Wahls Protocol, you’ll enjoy plenty of spinach, kale, cabbage, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, carrots, and beets. You’ll also feast on color-rich fruits such as blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries and grass-fed meats and wild fish.
Here are five recipes to get you started on the Wahls Protocol.
1. Rainbow Chard with Bone Broth and Bacon
This nutrient-dense Wahls-friendly recipe from Phoenix Helix, a blog created by Eileen Laird for people following the autoimmune protocol (AIP) diet, is packed full of micronutrients to help support your health. The bone broth and chard supply key nutrients while the bacon gives this meal its delicious flavor.
2. Chicken Liver Fried “Rice”
Another Wahls-friendly favorite from the Phoenix Helix blog is this recipe for chicken liver fried “rice.” Made like a stir-fry, this recipe is full of veggies like carrots, cauliflower, and scallions. Plus, it’s high in protein.
The chicken liver supplies you with high levels of vitamin A and B and the recipe includes coconut oil, a popular ingredient in recipes for autoimmune diseases.
3. Slow Cooker Spaghetti Squash
This recipe from “The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life” will satisfy any pasta lover. Spaghetti squash are a delicious and curiously pasta-like vegetable that you can top with all kinds of delicious sauces.
If you use a slow cooker, you don’t have to wrestle with trying to cut the squash in half. Just plop the whole thing in your slow cooker and set a timer. Roasting in the oven is also easy once you halve the squash. You can roast or use your slow cooker to prepare all winter squash, such as butternut, acorn, and delicata.
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- 1 tbsp. ghee, melted
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a slow cooker: Put the spaghetti squash in the slow cooker, cover, and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours, or until the squash feels soft. Remove the squash and let it cool until you can handle it. Cut in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and scrape out the strands with a fork.
In an oven: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Put the halves cut-side down in a large roasting pan or on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 40 minutes, or until you can easily pierce the squash with a fork. Use a fork to scrape out the strands.
- Put the spaghetti squash “noodles” in a large bowl and drizzle with ghee.
- Sprinkle with the nutritional yeast and sea salt and pepper to taste. You can also top this with your favorite Bolognese or marinara sauce.
4. Turkey Tacos
This recipe, taken from “The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life,” isn’t a typical skillet recipe. Instead of preparing your greens with the other ingredients, you use the greens as a taco “shell.”
Butter lettuce and Boston lettuce or other greens, such as mature curly kale or collard leaves, work well.
- 2 tbsp. ghee
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 3 cups thinly sliced bell peppers
- 3 cups thinly sliced onion
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp. taco seasoning
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Hot sauce, to taste
- 8 large lettuce, kale, or collard leaves
- Salsa and guacamole
- Heat the ghee in a stockpot or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the turkey, bell peppers, onion, garlic, and taco seasoning. Cook until turkey is browned and the vegetables are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
- Serve the cilantro and hot sauce on the side, or stir them directly into the skillet.
- Divide the taco filling among lettuce leaves. Add salsa and guacamole.
- Roll or fold up and enjoy! You can also serve the filling on a bed of greens as a taco salad.
Cooking tip: You don’t need to add water or broth to the fat when you’re cooking the meat for this meal.
5. Wahls Fudge
This is one of the most popular recipes from the Wahls Protocol, so it also appears in “The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life” — with an added variation for white fudge.
This fudge tastes like an indulgent, sweet treat but it’s much more nutritionally dense than candy, parties, or other sweet desserts. It’s calorically dense, so it’s excellent for those who are losing too much weight. If you’re trying to lose weight, enjoy it sparingly.
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 1 medium avocado, pitted and peeled
- 1 cup raisins
- ½ cup dried unsweetened coconut
- 1 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
- Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth.
- Press the mixture into an 8 x 8-inch glass baking dish. Refrigerate or freeze for 30 minutes to firm up the fudge. Cut into 20 squares and enjoy.
Wahls says she usually stores fudge in the refrigerator so it stays firm. The fudge keeps for about three days — though it’s usually gone much faster.
Mexican chocolate variation: Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.
White chocolate variation: Omit the cocoa powder and make the avocado optional. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean seeds. Swap raisins for golden raisins.
*The above recipes are reprinted from “The Wahls Protocol Cooking for Life” by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2017, Terry Wahls.
Sara Lindberg, BS, MEd, is a freelance health and fitness writer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise science and a master’s degree in counseling. She’s spent her life educating people on the importance of health, wellness, mindset, and mental health. She specializes in the mind-body connection, with a focus on how our mental and emotional well-being impact our physical fitness and health.