Shifting into better health with an anti-inflammatory eating plan

50/50 = Frittata & berries

Breakfast on the anti-inflammatory plan: Asparagus-tomato frittata and berries (lots of them!)

I’ve been MIA on the blog but it doesn’t mean I haven’t been cooking.  First I drifted away because I simply was bored with food.  I started relying on Everyday Food, the monthly Martha Stewart magazine, to do the thinking for me. Meals were just okay , not much to report.

Then, I heard about a nutrition class focused on the anti-inflammatory diet.  The idea of focusing meals around vegetables and fruit, with a lesser emphasis on meat and starch, has always appealed to me. I’ve long struggled with a couple of skin conditions that flare up randomly. Neither my dermatologist nor allergist have determined a cause so I suspected certain foods could be a factor. Taking the five-week class would give me and my husband a chance to experience the anti-inflammatory way of eating as part of a group while learning the science behind it. We signed up.

So what’s the big deal? Well, we’re entering our third week of the elimination phase which means a big NO to alcohol, dairy, sugar (all sweeteners), wheat, beef and pork, canola oil and the usual suspects (preservatives and things you can’t pronounce).

cherry bites

Unsweetened chocolate is bitter on its own. Cherries make it work.

The result: We both feel great. More energy. Better sleep. Less snoring for him and itching for me. 4 to 5 pounds of weight loss each. And everything tastes better. It seems our taste buds have gone through a cleansing process.  Speaking of tastebuds, we continue to eat well.  It just takes a bit more effort to plan enough vegetables and fruits to make the 2:1 ratio at every meal and two snacks per day.  I sometimes find it difficult to squeeze in a snack because my appetite has lessened. And thankfully, I have fewer cravings for carbs and sweets. Mostly I miss red wine and chocolate.  Only unsweetened chocolate is allowed during this phase; not so bad if you tuck it into a bing cherry. It’s too bitter to nibble it on its own!

Grilled shrimp on arugula; fennel slaw

Spicy grilled shrimp on arugula with fennel slaw

What are we eating? Check out the new meal plan page for our nightly dinners. Breakfasts are always 50/50 veggies & fruits to protein; every other meal is 2/3’s veggies and fruits, 1/3 protein and grain.

With a few minor tweaks, a lot of the recipes we already enjoy comply with the plan’s criteria. Such dishes as South American Quinoa Salad from PCC; Mark Bittman’s asparagus with scallops (or shrimp); Deborah Madison’s Silken Tofu in Spicy Red Coconut Sauce.

While I thought we ate healthy meals before this switch, I’ve learned certain ingredients can easily tilt the nutritional balance in the wrong direction. Consider our meals the week before class started:

Pasta with sausage, leeks and lettuce – This dish contains Italian sausage  — something I missed most at the beginning of the A-I diet. Now I’m wondering how to use up that sausage stockpiled in my freezer.

Chinese-style ribs and napa cabbage slaw. Take out the sugar and the slaw could make the A-I plan; the ribs are out of the question. No pork, no sauces with preservatives and/or sugar.

Salmon with brown sugar and mustard glaze – Salmon, a thousand times yes. The glaze is a big NO with its 1/4 c. of brown sugar.

So the experiment continues. I see far more quinoa in our future.

South American quinoa salad

South American quinoa salad - a PCC Natural Market recipe

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