Anti-inflammatory Eating at its Finest
This salad is one of my favorite recipes I’ve created so far. I created this salad to offer a huge variety of anti-inflammatory ingredients in one dish. It works as an amazing side dish for a meal or can work on its own as a complete and filling lunch. It makes a big batch and the leftovers keep really well for 2-3 days. I’ll be the first to admit, it takes a bit of work, but it’s well worth it.
The flavors and textures of this salad blend so well together. You get some smooth, creamy and sweet roasted sweet potato, crunchy broccoli and sunflower seeds and chewy wild rice all in one bite. The lemon, ginger, balsamic dressing really ties it all together. It’s truly a marriage of healing and delicious food.
As I did my research and worked to heal my own body, I learned a number of keys to lowering inflammation in my body.
- Decrease stress – Some things that have helped me have been spending time in nature, getting regular exercise, meditation and creating a gratitude practice. All of these things help to put in perspective how truly fortunate I am.
- Get plenty of sleep – I strive to get a full 8 hours each night. It makes me more productive and allows me to think more clearly. Sleep is when our bodies heal, so make time to get what you need.
- Remove foods that cause inflammation – This can be different for everyone. For me, removing gluten, processed foods and dairy has been central to feeling better. If you’re not sure where to start, it can be helpful to try a Whole 30, or similar challenge that gets you eating whole, unprocessed foods for 30 days. This allows your system to reset and you can better discover what foods may be an issue for you.
- Eat plenty of anti-inflammatory foods – This is where this salad comes in. Below, I’ll outline a number of the ingredients in this dish that combat inflammation and tell you why.
- Keep blood sugar balanced – When you eat foods that raise your blood sugar, your body has to compensate by releasing insulin. With repeated abuse, this leads to oxidative stress and chronic low-grade inflammation. There is a scale that rates the degree to which a particular food raises blood sugar called the Glycemic Index (GI). By eating foods that are low on the GI, you can keep your blood sugar on a more even keel.
Key Inflammation-Fighting Ingredients:
Sweet Potato: Provides a source of medium GI carbohydrates to help maintain balanced blood sugar.
Broccoli: Contains a compound called sulforaphane that has been shown to reduce progression of joint damage in arthritis patients. The high sulphur and phosphorus content minimizes joint pain and stiffness.
Kale: Is a low GI food and provides antioxidants which help to protect the body from damaging AGEs which lead to inflammation.
Flax Oil: Highest ranked food in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which is key to fighting inflammation.
Sunflower Seeds: High in Vitamin E, which has anti-inflammatory effects.
Ginger: Can relieve pain and swelling thanks to a compound called gingerol, which is anti-inflammatory.
Turmeric: Contains curcumin, an antioxidant that can help prevent joint damage from free radicals. It can also help to reduce inflammation.
Hemp Seeds: Adds protein and a healthy ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fats to this salad to make it more satiating.
- For the Salad:
- ½ cup Wild Rice
- 2 medium Sweet Potatoes, peeled & cubed into ½” pieces
- 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil
- ½ tsp Ground Turmeric
- ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 3-4 leaves Kale, thinly chopped
- 1 tsp Olive Oil
- Pinch Sea Salt
- Squeeze of fresh Lemon juice (1/8) lemon
- 2 cups Broccoli Florets, finely chopped
- 2 ribs of Celery finely sliced
- 2 Green Onions finely sliced
- 3 Tbsp. Sunflower Seeds
- 3 Tbsp. Hemp Seeds
- For the Dressing:
- Juice of ½ Lemon
- 2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. Fresh Grated Ginger (easier to grate if frozen)
- 2 Tbsp. Flax Oil
- 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
- ½ tsp Maple Syrup or Raw Honey
- ¼ tsp Sea Salt
- Ground Pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Rinse & drain wild rice. Cook rice in 2 cups of water for approximately 50 minutes or until pods begin to split open. Rinse under cold water when done to stop cooking process.
- While rice is cooking, melt coconut oil in a small saucepan (about 1 minute). Line a baking tray with unbleached parchment paper. Toss cubed sweet potatoes, turmeric and cinnamon in the melted oil. Return to oven and bake for 30-35 minutes, turning once, halfway through baking time.
- Make dressing - add all dressing ingredients into a sealed mason jar and shake it up!
- Place chopped kale in large salad bowl and add olive oil, sea salt and lemon juice. Massage kale leaves for about 2 mins until they become softened and brighter green.
- Next add broccoli, celery, green onions, sunflower & hemp seeds to the bowl. Add the cooled rice and sweet potato to the bowl and stir to combine.
- Dress the salad and enjoy!