You probably already know that chronic inflammation can set you up for some serious health issues, including disabling and life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. What you may not know, however, is how to reduce inflammation. The answer may be as simple as changing the foods you eat! Just as some foods can trigger inflammation, others can lower it.

How can you turn the tables in your favor? Consume recipes that emphasize high-quality, high-nutrient whole foods, and minimize highly inflammatory processed foods devoid of nutrients. No one knows this better than Krissy Carbo, RD, author of The Anti-Inflammatory Cookbook. Here’s her best advice about anti-inflammatory cooking and eating along with five of her favorite recipes.

Ingredients and Equipment

The foundation of an anti-­inflammatory diet should be whole foods in their most natural, nutrient-dense form even if they are conventionally grown.

Fruits and vegetables are key. Many of the nutrients they provide have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Organically grown produce is ideal. The next step down is locally grown because, unlike big industrial farmers, small farmers typically don’t use heavy-duty pesticides. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up the convenience of frozen veggies—there are organic varieties, too. Read the ingredients list.

Beef, eggs, pork and chicken. The healthiest options are pasture-raised…organic is next best. Wild-caught fish, fresh or frozen, is preferable to grain-fed farmed animals. The grains fed to animals are high in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids—when we eat meat from an animal that was fed grains, we absorb those fatty acids, which can cause inflammation and damage our health.

Dairy products. If you use any type of dairy, make it from grass-fed cows—you’ll get more healthful omega-3s than products from conventionally raised cows. Omega-3s help rebalance the Western diet’s imbalance of omega-6s, found in packaged foods, to omega-3s.

Keep in mind: People with an inflammatory disorder may not tolerate dairy and/or gluten—you might get a headache and/or a stomachache from certain foods. Also, some people become less tolerant of lactose with age, so you may want to limit dairy intake. And while grains are a great source of fiber, you can get fiber in fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and wild rice, so grains should be an extra on your plate, not the star.

The Recipes

The goal of anti-inflammatory eating is to permanently incorporate it into your life, so recipes need to be simple and use easy-to-find ingredients.

Veggie Egg Muffin Cups (shown above): Mushrooms are the star in this recipe due to their many anti-inflammatory compounds including polysaccharides, terpenes and other phenolic compounds that support our immune system and combat inflammatory triggers. Makes six servings.

  • 2 Tablespoons avocado oil
  • ¾ cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • ¾ cup green bell pepper, chopped
  • ¾ cup cremini mushrooms, chopped
  • ½ cup yellow onion
  • 2 cups baby spinach, chopped
  • 12 whole pasture-raised eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons almond milk
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon chives
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon hot sauce

Preheat the oven to 350°F. In a cast-iron skillet, heat the avocado oil on medium-high heat, and add the peppers, mushrooms and onions. Sauté for about seven to eight minutes. Add the spinach to the pan, and sauté for another three to five minutes. Remove all the veggies from the pan. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl. Add almond milk, nutritional yeast, spices and hot sauce. Mix until well combined.

Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray. Spoon the veggies in equal portions into each muffin cup. Carefully pour the eggs over each vegetable cup. Place the pan in the oven, and cook the egg muffins for about 25 to 28 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, let cool slightly, and serve.

Krissy’s Famous Taco Salad: This tasty salad, with homemade salsa and ranch dressing, is filled with all the complex carbs and high-quality protein and fat you need to stay fueled and full. Makes two servings.

For the homemade salsa…

  • 4 ripe tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 1 red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-3 jalapeños (according to taste), stemmed and seeded
  • 13 cup fresh cilantro
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

Place ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse for a second at a time until desired consistency.

For the ranch dressing…

  • 13 cup Paleo mayonnaise (I like Primal Kitchen Mayo)
  • ¼ cup canned full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 1 Tablespoon dried chives
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

Place all ingredients in a blender, and blend on the lowest setting until well combined…or place all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well combined. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before using.

For the beef and salad…

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound pasture-raised ground beef
  • 2 Tablespoons taco seasoning
  • 6 cups mixed greens or red leaf ­lettuce, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup vine tomatoes, diced
  • 13 red onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 13 cup crushed tortilla chips (I like Siete chips)
  • 13 cup shredded Cheddar cheese from pasture-raised cows (I like to use Horizon. Omit if you’re sensitive to dairy and replace with 1½ Tablespoons of nutritional yeast)
  • 1 medium avocado, cubed
  • 13 cup homemade salsa (see above)
  • 13 cup homemade ranch dressing (see above)

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef, and break it apart with a spatula. Sprinkle meat with taco seasoning. Toss to combine. Continue cooking the beef, occasionally breaking large chunks with the spatula, for about 10 to 13 minutes until the beef is browned and moisture has evaporated.

While the beef is cooking, combine the greens, tomatoes, onion, red bell pepper, tortilla chips, cheese (or nutritional yeast) and avocado in a large bowl. Combine the salsa and ranch dressing, and pour over the salad. Toss to combine.

Once the beef has finished cooking, add it to the salad and toss again.

Easy Pork Carnitas: Need something easy but tasty for dinner? No need to reach for the take-out menu! This recipe uses an Instant Pot or pressure cooker so you can enjoy tender, high-quality protein with ease. Makes four servings.

  • 3-4 pounds boneless pork loin
  • 1 can (15 ounces) fire-roasted ­tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Add all the dry ingredients to a small bowl, and whisk together. Place the pork in an Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Rub the seasoning mixture all over the pork. Add the can of fire-roasted tomatoes. Secure the lid, and select pressure cook/manual on high pressure for about 40 minutes. Let pressure release naturally for about 20 minutes or until the valve stem drops. Remove the pork to a large bowl, and shred with two forks. Serve with your favorite tortilla, side salad or brown rice.

Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts: This sweet and savory side dish pairs nicely with grilled steak, chicken or fish. Brussels sprouts are a great source of vitamins C and K, and this recipe is guaranteed to appeal to even the pickiest eater. Makes four servings.

  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts, split in half lengthwise
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¾ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup feta cheese (omit if sensitive to dairy)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place Brussels sprouts on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes or until the sprouts are golden brown. While the Brussels sprouts are cooking, pour balsamic vinegar and honey into a saucepan. Bring sauce to a boil, and reduce to a simmer for about 10 to 13 minutes or until the vinegar begins to thicken. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and pour the glaze over the Brussels sprouts. Toss with cranberries and feta cheese.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Ice Cream: We all love ice cream, but can we live with the discomfort we get after eating dairy? Here is a recipe you can enjoy without any worries. If you are allergic to peanuts, replace the peanut butter with almond butter. Makes three servings.

  • 4 frozen bananas, each cut into 4 pieces
  • ½ cup of unsweetened nondairy milk of your choice
  • ½ cup no-sugar-added peanut butter
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Add the frozen bananas and nondairy milk to a food processor. Process on low (or pulse) until smooth, stopping intermittently to scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the peanut butter, strawberries and vanilla extract. Process until smooth and the ingredients are incorporated. Pour the mixture into a freezer-safe container, and place the container in the freezer for six hours or overnight before serving.

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