Anti-Inflammatory Food and Colors
The foods that help fight inflammation come in all different colors. Each color has special properties that help fight inflammation and provide a myriad of other benefits to our body. These special properties are often referred to as the large category of “phytonutrients” which is basically a fancy word for plant nutrients. There are over 100,000 phytonutrients in the plants we eat! You can learn more about phytonutrients here. The anti-inflammatory nutrients make up hundreds of those phytonutrients. The color of a plant tells us some things about which phytonurients and which anti-inflammatory nutrients that plant contains. It’s vitally important that we get a variety of colors in our diet to make sure we are getting in the wide variety of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds that we need for optimal health. This post is all about the green foods and how they benefit our health.
Anti-Inflammatory Green Foods
Green foods provide anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits in addition to supporting brain health, hormone balance, heart health, and liver health. A couple of the green foods are unique in that they also contain some healthy fats in addition to the phytonutrients; these include olives and avocados. Due to the wide variety of phytonutrients in green foods and the multitude of health benefits they provide its essential to consume them regularly and to obtain a variety of green foods in your diet. Many of these green foods also contain high amounts of fiber which improves digestion, keeps blood glucose under control, and lowers blood cholesterol. In addition to the fabulous anti-inflammatory phytonutrients they contain, green foods are also high in folate and Vitamin K. You will definitely get a powerful supply of vitamins and minerals from the green foods.
Green Foods List:
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY GREEN FOODS COMPOUNDS
Green Foods have numerous compounds that provide us health benefit. These green food compounds include: Catechins, Chlorophyll, Flavolignans, Folates, Glucosinolates, Isoflavones, Phytosterols, Phenols, Suforaphane, Tannins, Theaflavins. Let’s dive a little deeper into what these green phytonutrients can do for you!
These cancer fighting phytonutrients are high in the cruciferous vegetable family which includes broccoli, cabbage, and bok choy. This green food compound helps the liver get rid of toxins as well. There is no need to do a “detox diet” when you can just up your intake of natural detoxifiers like these amazing green foods! Glucosinolates are especially helpful for reducing the risk of breast and uterine cancers as well as cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Chopping and cooking these vegetables helps release glucosinolates and increases their bio-availability (ability to be utilized by the body). Check out this research paper on glucosinolates. Oregon State has a great informational page on glucosinolates and cruciferous vegetables here.
Phytosterols pack some health boosting punch. They can help keep cholesterol levels in check, for one. Many people don’t get enough plant sterols in their diets. Make sure to eat lettuces and leafy greens on a regular basis and consume the fatty green foods (olives and avocados) to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels. If you would like to read more about phytosterols click here. These green compounds have also been implicated in cancer prevention.
Highest in green tea, this green foods compound has been shown to reduce cancer risks dramatically. Catechins also may pay a role in weight management and appear reduce body fat. You can read more about that here. But there is NO replacement for eating healthy and being active when it comes to significant and lasting weight management. If you would like more information on losing weight check out my 12 week online weight management program here.
Another amazing green food compound. Chlorophyll is a powerful cancer fighting phytonutrient. It is also useful in wound healing! You can read a lot more about chlorophyll from the Linus Pauling Institute. Take note that spinach and parsley are two of the highest cholorophyll containing green foods. Because chlorophyll is what gives green foods their color, there is very little in other anti-inflammatory rainbow food colors, so you’ll want to get in green foods weekly to make sure you are not missing out on this special nutrient.
Tips for Increasing Green Foods in Your Diet:
- Avocados can be added to salads, sandwiches, eggs, and any Mexican dish
- Include bok choy, edamame, and broccoli in stir-fry
- Choose green tea instead of coffee for a nice pick-me-up and warm morning drink
- Add leafy greens to smoothies
- Include several green food in salads such as cucumber, spinach, celery, and cabbages
- Scramble eggs or create omelets that include spinach and green peppers
- Include celery, okra, and green beans in soups or stews
- Flavor foods with a variety of fresh or dried herbs
Recipes to Boost Green Foods Consumption:
Vanilla Mint Green Smoothie From 3 Boys Unprocessed
Green Grape Avocado Quinoa Salad from the Food Network
Beef and Cabbage Stir-fry from Budget Bytes
Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts from Eat Yourself Skinny
How to Eat to Fight Inflammation
Just eating a few green foods each week mixed in to your normal intake of pizza and ice cream isn’t going to get you the benefits you are after. Check out my Ultimate Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet to make sure your following the full plan for optimal results. Eating a healthy meal of salmon with a spinach salad isn’t going to counter the effects of the bacon cheese burger and fries you had the night before! If you’d like to not only fight inflammation and gain health; but lose weight as well, check out How to Go Low Carb the Healthy Way. You can combine the anti-inflammatory diet and low-carb meal plans together for optimal health and weight management results. Sign-up for my newsletter below to get even more tips on following the Anti-inflammatory meal plan.
I’ll be sharing information on red foods, orange foods, blue and purple foods, white and brown foods, and yellow foods over the next few months. Definitely check out the other wonderful colors of the anti-inflammatory rainbow and incorporate them into your nutrition plan as well. Your meals will not only be healthy and tasty, but beautiful as well! Check back often or sign-up for my newsletter so you don’t miss a thing! Eating a rainbow of colors is the best way to ensure a highly anti-inflammatory diet that includes the broad spectrum of phytonutrients we need for optimal health.
What’s your favorite green food and/or recipe? Post in the comments below!
Favorite Meatless Monday Recipe
I made an awesome recipe for dinner tonight and I am super excited to share it with you. It’s actually one of my favorite recipes and I’ve made it dozens of times. But first I want to share a secret and a story with you.
A Dietitian’s Secret
First, my secret, I may be a dietitian but… are you ready for this?! I. Am. A. Clumsy. Cook. Dietitians are not chefs. We don’t have any formal cooking training. I make cooking mistakes all the time! I’ll be sharing them periodically on my blog, and today I have an epic story to share! As a dietitian, the only formal training I had on cooking was a cooking/science lab in college that taught me about chemical reactions during cooking and fancy words such a “saute” and “the maillard reaction”. You want to know what it didn’t teach me?
Things You Don’t Learn in Dietitian Programs
It didn’t teach me how to season foods to give them ultimate flavor. I also didn’t learn to pair different types of food for the best presentation or flavor profiles. It didn’t teach me what types of wine go best with what types of meats/fish/poultry (I’m feeling kind of ripped off right now, really…). It also didn’t teach me how to care for cooking injuries.
Yes. Cooking injuries. I have scars y’all. Multiple. Burns, cuts, bruises – they can all happen while cooking! My kitchen has become a war zone. I have several serious and yet also hilarious cooking mishap stories. So today I thought I would share one with you.
A Story for Laughs and Life Lessons
I was working on this epic recipe tonight that I’m about to share with you. Breezing through the recipe, I had chopped the peppers, jalapenos, and cilantro without a drop of blood. I had sauteed the veggies, opened, rinsed, and drained the black beans and was still in one piece. Also, I had started the quinoa in the rice cooker and preheated the oven. I was almost home free without any type of injury.
Almost. Until… that pivotal moment when I went to rub my itchy eye. Without a second thought I reached up and rubbed the corner of my left eye with a single finger. It only took about half a second to realize I had 1.) made a grave mistake and 2.) remember that I had CHOPPED JALAPENOS WITHOUT WASHING MY HANDS AFTER!
Life Lesson #1:
Wash your dang hands after touching jalapenos and any other hot pepper! Seriously y’all. Want to know what it feels like to set your eyeball on fire? Touch it with jalapeno juice. Want to know what it feels like to want to rip your eyeball out of its socket so the pain will stop? Touch it with jalapeno laced appendages. Want to know what it feels like to have your nose run because you had hot peppers in your eye instead of your mouth? Touch it with jalapeno fingers. *Side Note: Your nose literally runs like it does when you eat spicy salsa when you get spicy eyeball. So not only were my eyes watering like crazy, my nose was also dripping snot… Let me tell you how sexy it was not.* If you would like to avoid these feelings and are good with taking my word for how horrible of an experience this was – WASH YOUR HANDS after messing with hot peppers. Twice just to make sure. It will be worth it, I promise.
The story continues…
So my family, husband, 2 kids, and mother-in-law, are sitting at the kitchen table playing a board game while I’m making dinner and witness me briskly walk (because I’m already afraid of running in socks on my hardwood floors) out of the kitchen saying “I’ll be back I just got jalapeno juice in my eye”. My loving husband follows me into the bathroom with our 5 year old on his shoulders where I am vigorously trying to wash my eye out in the sink and asks me if there is anything he can do to help. Yes actually, “take our child out of here so I don’t say bad words in front of her” was all I could muster out at the moment. He quickly retreated. After wiping my eyes and blowing my nose and still feeling no relief I called down the hallway “google how to get jalapeno juice out of my eye!”. By the way, I realize its not juice but actually oils from the pepper that got in my eye – that is entirely beside the point when your eyeball is literally burning.
Life Lesson #2:
If perhaps you forget life lesson #1, it’s important to at least remember life lesson #2: The best remedy for calming down pepper spiced eyeballs? Soak a paper towel in milk and hold it over your eye for several seconds. It was that simple. I was in pure agony for what felt like eternity (y’all might want to think about what hell really feels like if you don’t know where you’re going when you die!) because in reality it lasted less than 5 minutes. Maybe 8 – I wasn’t exactly checking the clock. But it felt like forever and it hurt like hell. Literally. I imagine that’s how it would feel to have your eyes burn out of their sockets. In my humble opinion, I don’t think you really ever want to experience that. But alas, to each their own.
Favorite Meatless Monday Recipe
Black Bean and Quinoa Enchilada Bake by Two Peas & Their Pod.
Photo source: Two Peas & Their Pod
All-In-One Anti-Inflammatory Recipe
Why do I love this recipe so much? Even after I nearly lost my eye making it? It has all the food groups in one place minus fruit. Protein, healthy starch, and non-starchy vegetables in a beautiful array of vibrant shades with all the anti-inflammatory rainbow colors. Learn more about the red, yellow, and orange anti-inflammatory colors that this dish contains. It can be hard to find a healthy casserole recipe that is a complete meal and also fits the anti-inflammatory meal plan. This recipe is also high in fiber! A great anti-inflammatory nutrient that most American’s don’t get enough of in their daily diet. Look at these beautiful colors!
Due to the jalapeno fiasco this is the only picture I managed to snap.
Perfect Recipe for Sharing
This is my go to dish for potlucks and families who need a meal cooked for them. I’ve cooked it several times for new moms who’s last thought is what they are going to be cooking for dinner. It freezes well – just combine and place into a freezer safe casserole dish prior to baking! When you want to eat it, bake as directed. It’s easy to double the recipe and feed large crowds or have several days of leftovers for healthy lunches. It also doesn’t take a ton of work but tastes like you spent hours slaving over it. It’s amazing!
Budget Friendly Recipe
I love how budget friendly this recipe is. I broke down the cost below so you could see for yourself. Prices (except fresh produce) were obtained from Walmart.com because it’s easy to search for grocery costs there and they’re available all over the country. Produce are averages in my area. I did not include cost of spices. It’s hard to find such a healthy recipe of under $1.50 per person! I paired it with baby carrots and cuties for sides so our total meal was less than $2 a person! Great option for those budget conscious families.
- Quinoa $8.22 for 32oz = $1.64 for 1 cup
- 2 cans black beans $0.625 each if bought in 4 pack = $1.25
- Red Enchilada Sauce 28oz can = $2.98
- Bell Peppers $1 each = $2.00
- Jalapeno pepper $1/lb = $0.25
- Onion $0.50 = $0.50
- Can Corn $0.50 = $0.50
- Cilantro $0.50 = $0.25
- Shredded Mexican Cheese $7.97 32oz/8 cups = $1.98
- TOTAL per Recipe: $11.35
- Cost per serving (makes 8 servings): $1.42
Healthy Recipe Facts
Nutrition Facts below are per serving and based on making 8 servings from the recipe. We easily made 8 servings out of the recipe. We had 2 kids and 3 adults eat and had about 1/3 of the recipe leftover.
- Calories 357.3
- Total Fat 13.0 g
- Saturated Fat 6.1 g
- Sodium 495.6 mg
- Potassium 372.3 mg
- Total Carbohydrate 45.7 g
- Dietary Fiber 9.7 g
- Protein 16.8 g
Plus it contains good amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, Folate, and Riboflavin. Overall this dish is a great healthy choice! It would be suitable for diabetics and those needed to watch their sodium intake as long as you use no salt added canned black beans or dried beans. This recipe definitely gets two thumbs up from this dietitian. I would recommend it to pretty much everyone!
Easily Adjust Recipe to Your Preferences and Needs
You can mix and match ingredients very easily in this recipe. Any color and type of pepper would work well depending on your flavor preferences, what’s on sale that week, and how badly you want to avoid jalapeno juice in your eye! You can add a lot of different vegetables to increase the nutrients from the original recipe. Consider adding tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, green onions, or your other favorite veggies. You can also choose a different whole grain if you forgot to purchase quinoa. It would easily be adaptable to brown rice and I also think a whole grain pasta would work well. You can leave out the cheese if you are dairy free. Those that need to avoid gluten can happily consume this as the recipe is already gluten free. If you struggle with IBS you can sub the black beans for canned lentils (lower in FODMAPS) and chose green onions instead of regular onions. It’s low in calories so can be great for weight loss as well.
Honestly I just can’t think of reason not to eat this! It’s amazing. If you haven’t yet, head over to Two Peas & Their Pod and check it out.