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Your favorite quick & easy "anti-inflammatory" aka "Mediterranean" diet recipes and recipe sources?

Hi there, I don't post or read this board much (though I did search it before posting!) so apologies if this has been asked and answered a million times already, but I'm trying to support a family member who is starting to follow an anti-inflammatory/Mediterranean diet for arthritis pain management. I would love your input.

It's this diet here:
http://www.arthritistoday.org/what-yo...

But, for those of you who don't want to read the link, I'm looking for recipes that feature:

-cold-water fish
-nuts and seeds, especially walnuts, pine nuts, pistachios and almonds
-fruits and vegetables, especially dark and brightly-colored ones: strawberries, blue-berries, and other berries, tart cherries, apples, spinach, broccoli kale, bell peppers
-beans, especially red beans, small red kidney beans and pinto beans
-olive oil
-whole grains

So, you know me, I'm always looking for "quick and easy" recipes, now I'm looking for your favorite "quick and easy" anti-inflammatory recipes, bonus points for recipes that give you a lot of anti-inflammatory bang for your buck, ie., that hit a lot of the categories at once, say, almond-crusted salmon over sauteed kale and bell peppers

If you've got some favorite cookbooks or recipe websites, I'd love to hear those, too.

Thank you muchly!

~TDQ

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  1. This is not geared specifically towards that diet, but sounds like it might fit the bill (and is one of my favorite cookbooks though I often need to make substitutions now that I've gone gluten-free).

    Ancient Grains for Modern Meals: Mediterranean Whole Grain Recipes for Barley, Farro, Kamut, Polenta, Wheat Berries & More by Maria Speck.

    I've enjoyed everything I made from that cookbook and she very clearly has a sincere love of whole grains that is quite infectious.

    1 Reply
    1. re: amishangst

      I will have a look at that book, thank you!

      ~TDQ

    2. Hi DQ,

      We eat a lot of anti-inflammatory foods in our house (except for most beans and grains).

      My rule of thumb when shopping is to get the highest quality protein that I can afford, and to incorporate as much fish as I can without my H going nuts. Speaking of nuts, those are good too--walnuts, almonds, etc.

      We like a frittata of good eggs and spinach.

      H will eat a tuna fillet over sauteed spinach and garlic.

      He likes seared sea scallops over a salad of dark greens and roasted red peppers.

      A few squares of dark chocolate are a great treat.

      We love big pots of homemade chicken soup with escarole, sometimes with a little ginger or a spritz of lemon for zestiness.

      1 Reply
      1. re: pinehurst

        Great suggestions, thank you. I don't know why it's so hard to think of ideas, but you're definitely given me a starting point. I especially like the chicken soup with escarole idea!

        ~TDQ

      2. I'm trying to follow a similar diet to alleviate the residual arthritic effects of Lyme's disease. So far anything vegan fits the bill. Also agree with the gluten-free poster. I do eat salmon once a week for the omega-3s, usually pan-seared with garlic butter.

        A good Mediterranean blog site:
        http://www.olivetomato.com/

        For beginning vegans:
        http://pcrm.org/kickstartHome/messages/
        (The next 21-day kickstart begins Nov. 1.

        )

        For variety:
        http://www.veganmexicanfood.com/

        And sorry, TDQ, no dairy is recommended.

        2 Replies
        1. re: elegraph

          thanks for all of these reccs!!! the cookbook VEGAN PLANET- can accommodate a lot of the anti inflammatory diet needs--- we also use the whole foods app( items on hand feature) and lots of great ideas come up
          AFAIK-- we can have grass fed cheese--- but thats the only dairy in our diet..

          1. re: elegraph

            I used to be extremely crippled by Lyme arthritis, but once I was successfully treated, I only had some residual aches and pains until I low carbed, then all that went away along with my FMS. It's been 15 years.

            I had gone undiagnosed many years and had two strains of ehrlichia and Lyme.

          2. I came across this the other day and reposted it to the other thread involving inflammation. http://www.proteinpower.com/drmike/pa...

            I usually post only scientific literature citations, not popular media, but in all the years I've been researching, I've never seen Dr. Eades sloppy on the science, or fail to correct or add something as new data becomes available.

            I'd cut out the grains and fruits, any other sources of high carb load, and use (assuming it's possible for you) meat and dairy from grass fed critters and only wild caught cold water fish, the most peppery tasting olive oil you can find (more of the anti inflammatory polyphenols), and see if that helps. Pastured eggs, too. They and red meat from grass fed animals have lower levels of pro inflammatory omega6s, higher CLA and lower (inflammtory) arachidonic acid.

            I can tell you that in the years of the Atkins and height of low carb online activity, many people a week were astonished to find that their asthma, IBD, GERD and aches and pains disappeared quickly upon commencing low carb. For me, it was arthralgia, severe fibromyalgia, PCOS and painful neuropathies that literally disappeared overnight.

            Whatever you do, I hope it improves for you.

            5 Replies
            1. re: mcf

              Well, it's not for me, but a family member. Nevertheless, thank you for your recommendations.

              The meat and dairy from grass fed, wild-caught cold-water fish, and pastured eggs are already a check. Gosh, I don't know about the grains and fruits, though. That's going to be a tough one.

              Do you have any recommendations for peppery olive oil or how to locate one?

              Would you kindly please link me to the other thread on inflammation? I did a search before I posted this thread, but came up empty.

              ETA: Oh, the osteoporosis thread? Since that also asked for low-acid, I scrolled past it not wanted to confuse myself.

              Thank you!

              ~TDQ

              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                I don't know where you're located, but if you can go to a store specializing in EVOOs (contain more polyphenols) not on the fraudulently labeled list, and ask for the most peppery one they have, that's a good step, or read reviews or label descriptions of various ones online or on stores.

                Yes, it was the osteo thread, but had some more general discussion, too.

                The reason I mention the high carb stuff is that it reduces your ability to produce adrenal steroids that are your body's natural anti inflammatories due to the hyperinsulinemia it induces. Also lowers the transport protein for cortisol that delivers it to cells.

                Some fruits can be fit in and are low carb, like berries. The reason I cited those anecdotes from the low carb posters is that all those conditions are linked to pituitary and adrenal hormones and hormone releasers that cause high degrees of inflammation and immune dysregulation.

                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Two candidates for very peppery olive oils would be new harvest oils that should be coming out right now (2013 vintage) and Tuscan oils. I'll warn you that both types can be expensive.
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3390...

                2. re: mcf

                  mcf, your sharing is definitely motivating me to try harder with my diet. At least it is one made up of delicious food (albeit more expensive) :-)

                  When it is difficult to be carb-free, do you think I can "cheat" with ramping up with on the good fats and oils in the same meal? Do you think that would help in any way?

                  I like your suggestion of locating the most peppery olive oil.. but being compromised with taste and smell, I will have to rely on reviews and sources I can trust, which I am still trying to figure out... Thank goodness for CH where I can get a lot of this information!

                  1. re: vil

                    We're not talking carb free, we're talking non starchy/non sugar carbs. I eat boatloads of carbs by volume, but not as a % of calories.

                    I think you should make delicious meals with the most beautiful and healthy ingredients you can find, using the right amounts to make a great meal and not be quite as clinical about it.

                    I also think you're never going to know how to help yourself when you do a lot of changes at once.

                3. You've gotten great advice already, but I'll toss in some additional notes...

                  Garlic, cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and cayenne all have anti-inflammatory properties, so look for recipes that incorporate them (bring on the curries!)

                  Fresh herbs are anti-inflammatory, parsley, cilantro, basil & rosemary in particular.

                  I second mcf's suggestion to cut out grains completely, but I know that's a tough transition for some people. Gluten is the most inflammatory element, so if you're going to cut back slowly, wheat and all relatives should be the first to go. Stick with gluten-free whole grains and seeds like buckwheat, teff, amaranth, quinoa, rice & millet, and eventually cut back on those too.

                  A food sensitivity or intolerance will promote inflammation even if the ingredient is typically considered to be "anti-inflammatory." Nightshades are a common trigger, so if you cut out all other inflammatory foods and s/he is still symptomatic or experiencing flare-ups, eliminate tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes, and bell peppers to see if it helps.

                  Obviously read labels carefully, and avoid anything thickened with carrageenan because it's highly inflammatory to the GI tract.

                  Don't use non-stick cookware - some of the chemicals in nonstick coating are hormone disruptors and can trigger an inflammatory response.

                  Coconut oil is a great alternative to butter for cooking & baking.

                  Probiotics help reduce inflammatory activity in the GI tract, so incorporate fermented foods into the regimen. Organic cultured Greek yogurt, kefir, kombucha, kimchi & miso are all good sources.

                  Some random meal & snack ideas:

                  Buckwheat crepes or pancakes with berries or berry compote (even better if you can sneak in some cinnamon)

                  Parsley, basil or cilantro pesto as a coating/topping for chicken, fish or vegetables (romesco sauce is great too)

                  Guacamole as a side, snack or appetizer

                  Moroccan chicken with olives & preserved lemon

                  Turkey bolognese served over steamed spaghetti squash instead of pasta

                  Spicy pumpkin or squash soup with coconut milk & cayenne

                  Kale & chickpea salad

                  Salmon burgers with ginger & wasabi

                  Chicken cacciatore

                  Tuna salad dressed with an olive oil-based vinaigrette instead of mayo

                  You'll find tons of ideas and recipes on websites dedicated to the Paleo lifestyle - true paleo food is inherently anti-inflammatory so it's ideal for your needs. Some really good places to start:
                  http://paleomg.com/
                  http://nomnompaleo.com/recipeindex
                  http://civilizedcavemancooking.com/
                  http://everydaypaleo.com/

                  Mark Bittman would also be a great recipe resource for you. If you don't want to invest in a cookbook yet, start with his website and his NY Times column ("The Minimalist") to get a feel for his style:
                  http://markbittman.com/recipes/

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    I was with you right up to BIttman. I think his recipes suck, and always seem to have added sugars and be carby as heck. VB6 is a great example of his wrongheadedness.

                    Great ideas, though, in that post!

                    1. re: mcf

                      I suggested Bittman because many of his recipes are vegetable-heavy and "quick & easy" (which the OP requested). Some of his earlier Minimalist recipes & his fish cookbook are great - if she just skips the pasta & starches he has a lot that will work for her. Several terrific ones here:
                      http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co...

                    2. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      wondering how many times I can hit recommend

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Great list about the food suggestions!

                        One thing I am also doing recently is making a drink out of ground turmeric and milk, sweetened with honey (borrowing from Indian traditional recipes). It is so easy to whip up with my handheld milk frother.