We’ve talked a lot about anti-inflammatory foods in this space before. However, it’s so important to anti-aging and your overall health, it bears repeating. And since it’s the apex of summer, I want to share with you some salad recipes that are high in anti-inflammatory foods and are at the peak of their deliciousness this time of year.
Anti-inflammatory foods are those that have properties known to reduce inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a natural immune response that helps protect the body against injury or infection. However, chronic inflammation can contribute to various health problems, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, and certain types of cancer. Incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet may help mitigate inflammation and promote overall health.
The difference between antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods is that antioxidants help to prevent inflammatory responses from happening when they are not required to fight threats to the body. This means that antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties. However, antioxidants are not involved in the inflammatory response itself – like omega-3 fatty acids, which play a role in reducing inflammation.
These are just a few examples, and there are many other anti-inflammatory foods available. By incorporating these foods into a balanced diet, you can potentially reduce inflammation in the body and support overall health.
This salad from my latest cookbook, Anti-Aging Dishes from Around the World, is inspired by the Blue Zone of Ikaria, Greece, where the people can live to advanced ages of up to 100 years. The feta cheese in the salad provides protein and calcium. Hint: if you can buy the feta in bulk from a Greek, Persian, or other Middle Eastern deli, do it! Packaged feta will do, but feta from the deli case tastes better. Pine nuts are a good source of B vitamins, folate, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, and manganese. You can buy pine nuts pre-toasted. Leafy green arugula and extra virgin olive oil provide anti-inflammatory properties as do the blueberries. The salty feta and the sweet berries play beautifully together!
1 cup Greek feta cheese, cubed
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
½ tsp. dried Greek or Italian oregano
8 cups arugula (or spinach)
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
½ cup toasted pine nuts
½ cup (or more) fresh blueberries, figs, or strawberries
There’s an elegance to Vietnamese food. The flavors are bright and showcase lean protein, seafood, and vegetables. Vietnamese Shrimp Salad is a light, healthy meal of bold flavors and crunch. Typical of Vietnamese cuisine, nuoc cham dipping sauce accompanies this salad. You can dip the salad elements in the sauce or drizzle it like a salad dressing.
There are plenty of anti-inflammatory ingredients in this salad: The shrimp provides protein and Omega-3 fatty acids; garlic lends great taste as well as anti-inflammatory properties; the green leafy fresh herbs also contribute to preventing inflammation responses in the body. For an extra anti-inflammatory boost, you can add some cherry tomatoes, which will add color, too.
1 lb. jumbo shrimp, 16/20 size, peeled and deveined
2 Tbs. vegetable oil, divided
¼ cup rose wine
2 Tbs. and ¼ cup fish sauce, divided
1 Tbs. soy sauce
¼ cup lime juice, divided
2 Tbs. plus ¼ cup honey, divided
1 ½ Tbs. minced garlic, divided
2 Tbs. lemongrass, thinly sliced (available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, or Asian markets)
1 Tbs. rice vinegar
¼ cup water
1 red Thai chile, seeded and minced
8 oz. thin rice noodles
8 cups Romaine lettuce or baby greens, torn
1 cup shredded carrots (use a food processor, if you have one)
1 cup English or Persian cucumber, thinly sliced lengthwise into 2-inch pieces
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
1 small jalapeño pepper, sliced
½ cup cilantro leaves
½ cup mint leaves
½ cup basil leaves
¼ cup green onions, thinly sliced
¼ cup roasted peanuts, chopped
Who doesn’t love potato salad? Think outside the typical, rich potato salad to create this lightened up, non-traditional version. Unexpected flavors including turmeric and tahini blend together in a fresh sauce that complements the roasted flavor of the potatoes. By adding cabbage, this potato salad gets crunchy. Roast these small potatoes with the skin on then serve with a light, tangy, antioxidant-packed sauce for an irresistible side-dish sure to please. The fiber from the veggies and the yogurt’s probiotics lead to good gut health.
Turmeric teams up with our friend garlic for anti-inflammatory superpowers! Potatoes are rich in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant. Another major nutrient in potatoes is potassium, an electrolyte that aids in the workings of our heart, muscles, and nervous system. Olive oil makes another appearance with its healthful monounsaturated fats and inflammation-reducing oleocanthal.
1 lb. fingerling potatoes, halved lengthwise
2 Tbs. olive oil
½ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup shredded purple cabbage
½ cup plain yogurt (2 percent or full fat)
2 tsp. tahini paste
1 tsp. ground turmeric
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
¼ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
This salad makes a protein packed meal out of pesto. I like to serve it at room temperature. The nuts in this recipe are unsalted. If you use salted ones, reduce the amount of salt in the recipe to ¼ tsp. You can use raw nuts, but roasted ones have a deeper flavor.
The raw Italian basil leaves in this salad add chlorophyll for added antioxidants. Chickpeas (garbanzo beans) contain protein for bone and muscle health; detoxifying fiber, which promotes gut health; and D-chiro-inositol, which helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.
If you use almonds, there’s the added benefit of their inflammation-fighting nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants.
2 Tbs. olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
½ tsp. salt
1 cup tightly pack Italian basil leaves, stems removed
½ cup unsalted, roasted almonds, pine nuts, or cashews
½ cup orzo or Israeli cous-cous
1 can (14-15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
NOTE: You can garnish with cherry tomatoes and avocado for an extra boost of benefits.
If you want more immunity boosting, skin improving, longevity promoting, inflammation lowering, and detoxifying recipes like these, check out my latest cookbook, Anti-Aging Dishes from Around the World, which is full of international recipes for every meal occasion.