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18 Anti-Inflammatory Recipes That Are Worth Trying

Dig in.

Hey guys! I'm Michelle. Recently, I had a medical scare involving double vision that, for the first time in my adult life, made me take a true, hard look at my health and diet.


I won't go into details, but I basically woke up one morning unable to focus my eyes. After two weeks of emergency tests and hospital visits, my doctor set me up with an intense anti-inflammatory drug that did the trick.

I don't know if my diet played any role in my acute double vision — it may very well have played ZERO part in it — but I figured now would be as good a time as any to examine sources of inflammation in my diet and lifestyle.


I thought that while decreasing inflammation might not do anything for my eye issue, the nutritional education could only result in more informed dietary decisions and positive changes. Win-win, right?

In my quest to understand nutritional sources of inflammation, I spoke with registered dietitian Kristen Brogan, of wellness platform On Target Living.

Kristen Brogan / On Target Living

The point of an anti-inflammatory eating pattern is not to lose weight, so it's not really a "diet" in the conventional use of that term. According to Brogan, an anti-inflammatory eating pattern includes foods that can naturally lower inflammatory markers in the body. In plainer words, an anti-inflammatory diet is simply one that won't make your body fire off an immune response.

"Foods aren’t inflammatory markers per se, but can indirectly raise inflammatory markers in the body," explained Brogan. Examples of foods that can indirectly raise markers include sugar, which can increase inflammation in the body because of the excess fructose that accumulates and causes an imbalance in insulin and blood glucose. Other ingredients shown to "increase inflammatory markers" include trans fats, an excess of vegetable oils, processed animal proteins, and alcohol — these should be consumed in moderation.

Generally speaking, on an anti-inflammatory eating pattern, you should focus your dishes on vegetables, fruits, some spices, nuts, and omega-3 fats.

According to Brogan and other sources, here are some basic guidelines you should follow for an anti-inflammatory "diet":

Consume plenty of vegetables and fruits. Generally speaking, this goes along with the anti-inflammatory principle of sticking to foods that are as close to their natural states as possible.

Consume whole grains, as opposed to refined carbohydrates like pasta, white bread, and white rice.

• Consume foods rich in omega-3 fats, like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and fish oil.

Season foods with anti-inflammatory herbs and spices like cloves, cinnamon, turmeric, rosemary, ginger, sage, and thyme.

• Make oily fish your primary protein.

• Consume alcohol, processed meat, and dairy rarely.

• Avoid processed foods and refined sugars.

• Cut out trans fats completely.

Like the Mediterranean diet (which is a type of anti-inflammatory diet, btw), an anti-inflammatory eating pattern works best when coupled with a healthy lifestyle. Lifestyle factors that can cause inflammation include poor sleep, high stress, lack of movement, smoking, and long-term use of antibiotics and medications.

Without further ado, here are 18 recipes that fit the anti-inflammatory bill:

Sweet potatoes are some of the sweetest starchy vegetables out there, and taste even better when paired with a thick and creamy hummus or tahini sauce.

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2. Artichoke Ricotta Flatbread

Make your own whole wheat pizza dough, or grab a ready-made portion at the store.

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3. Lemon Chicken With Asparagus

Lemon is a totally underrated fruit — it can bring out the flavor in so many meals. Take this lemon chicken recipe, which, with the help of the sour fruit, turns a greasy chicken slab into an artistic and zestful meal. (When life gives you lemons...?)

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Squash is one of those vegetables that's so flavorful, and at once so satisfyingly creamy and "meaty," that it seems too good to be healthy for you. But guess what? It is!

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5. Chickpea Shawarma Salad

According to Brogan, beans in general are considered a "functional" food because they offer health benefits "beyond basic nutrition, promote optimal health, and support disease prevention."

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6. Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas

Instead of the usual white tortillas, opt for whole wheat tortillas, which have more fiber and a lower glycemic index, meaning they don't result in rapid spikes in blood sugar and insulin levels after meals.

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7. Fish Taco Bowls With Chipotle Aioli and Coconut-Lime Cauliflower Rice

You know how cauliflower rice can be weirdly dry and watery at the same time? Not so with this coconut-lime cauliflower rice, which is made with creamy, full-fat coconut milk and seasoned with lime and salt. Top it with flaky paprika-seasoned fish and one or all of the mentioned sauces, and you'll want to set up a taco shop out of your kitchen.

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8. Tomato Basil Garlic Chicken

When the tomato sauce is this hearty, you'll be glad your noodles are made of zucchini.

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Look, we know cod isn't the most exciting protein. But it's low in calories, high in protein, and chock full of good-for-you vitamins and minerals. Also, its light flakiness means it's really good at absorbing whatever other flavors you might throw on the pan with it.

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10. Spaghetti Squash Garlic Noodles

Zoodles are great and all, but spaghetti squash is as close to the carb-y stuff that a vegetable will actually get. Here, grated ginger, red curry paste, and fish sauce transform it into the best dang garlic "noodle" dish you could whip up using just vegetables.

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11. Shrimp and Cauliflower Grits

Substitute your cornmeal grits with a bag of frozen cauliflower, ghee, and garlic for low-carb, higher-nutrient grits you'll want to make again and again.

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12. 15-Minute Garlic Shrimp Zoodles

After you spiralize your zucchini, sprinkle the zoodles with a bit of salt (to draw out extra moisture), wait around 20 minutes, and dry them off with a paper towel.

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13. Greek Chicken Topped With Tomato, Olive, and Feta

This one's for you olive lovers out there. A simple chicken breast gets made over with an olive oil, oregano, and garlic marinade, and a simple olive and tomato topping.

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14. 5-Ingredient Green Curry

Cut out some of the fat (and cost!) by using just one can of coconut milk and thinning the sauce out with water.

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15. Spaghetti Squash With Asparagus, Ricotta, Lemon, and Thyme

Ricotta cheese, pine nuts, and thyme leaves combine for a delicious recipe that'll remind you why it's always worth it to try a new dish out.

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16. One-Pan Salmon With Wild Rice and Broccoli

Your rice might get a little crispy, but that's to be expected. Served with slightly charred broccoli and fatty salmon, it makes the perfect macro bowl.

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17. Farro Risotto With Butternut Squash and Kale

To make it dairy-free, substitute the Parmesan and Pecorino Romano with nutritional yeast.

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18. Easy Salmon Cakes

These freezer-friendly salmon cakes are perfect for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and go great with an aioli or any other creamy sauce.

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