3 anti-inflammatory foods you should eat…NOW

p.s. recipe for this super awesome juice is coming your way (and you don't need a juicer)

p.s. recipe for this super awesome juice is coming your way (and you don’t need a juicer)

We’ve heard of these magical food properties called anti-inflammatory agents, but what are they? Answer: when our cells excrete waste it is sometimes in the form of oxidative waste, which can be toxic and harmful to the body. These waste particles are like little fists that can punch the cells and tissues, causing inflammation. Kinda like when you scrape your elbow or get a deep paper cut, the area around the injury becomes reddened and inflamed. That’s a good thing, because your body is healing. BUT there is also a type of inflammation that can happen at a cellular level and is referred to chronic low-grade inflammation.

Why does inflammation happen? And what’s the big deal?

Inflammation can take place when we bombard our body with things like sugar, refined grains, stress, environmental toxins, aging etc. There’s a lot we’re still learning about low-grade inflammation. The reason why we’re concerned is because this very type of inflammation is linked to heart disease, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, and neurological degeneration.

But here’s the cool news….

Anti-inflammatory agents come in like the heroes that they are and swiftly carry away those feisty little guys to ensure that nothing is being irritated and swollen inside the body.  Anti-inflammatory is goooood news! Even better news is that we can find it in all sorts of foods!

Here are JUST three anti-inflammatory foods you ought to be eating, and all just in time for the upcoming harvest season.

ONE.

Beets – the deep red/purple color of beets indicates a lot of functional health properties. Anti-inflammation included! Boil, pickle, roast, juice, whatever! Just get these beautiful root plants into your diet and let your digestive system reap the benefits.

TWO.

Turmeric – let’s not forget that herbs and spices have endless medicinal properties. Turmeric is a root plant that is often dried and ground into a lovely yellow spice. The flavor is subtle, a bit pungent but also warm and peppery. It’s commonly used for mustard and curry dishes but the options are endless. Add to scrambled eggs at breakfast, rice for a hint of flavor or soups to bring even more warmth. Or hey, how about making this Kaju Korma over some baked tofu cubes?

THREE.

Olive Oil – Those Mediterranean folk, famous for their lack of inflammatory disease and in part due to their high fat diet. High fat?! Crazy right? The thing is that they are eating some majorly clean, healthy fats over in Greece such as fatty fish, olives and oils.

When fishing for the anti-inflammatory properties of cooking oils (ha, fishing) we have to make sure we grab Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Cold-Pressed Olive Oil, the cold-pressing form of processing keeps all their health benefits in tact. Limit the EVOO to your salads or for bread dipping because high temperatures will destroy those anti-inflammatory agents before they can even get to your cells…dangit. But feel free to use canola oil which is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids in your frying pan or the oven.

Now, here’s a wild idea to tie it all together…toss your chopped beets in some olive oil, sprinkle with turmeric and any other spices of your choice and roast for 25 minutes at 425F. Voila! A beautiful, fall-harvest, anti-inflammatory dish!

If you want to learn more about this specific diet, get your hands on Desiree Nielsen’s book Un-Junk Your Diet: How to Shop, Cook, and Eat to Fight Inflammation and Feel better Forever.

If you’re interested in eating more in the way of an anti-inflammatory diet, contact me. I’d love to help!

Please note the content of this post was written by 4th year Human Nutritional Sciences student Johanna Adriaansen. Johanna also maintains her own website and is an aspiring Dietitian!

Don’t forget to follow Carrots and Cake on Instagram to see tiny square snap shots of my life.

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda

To all the Sweethearts out there: Here’s what you need to know about sugar

Nita Sharda, Carrots and Cake

Photography purchased from Shutterstock.

In recent months, the sweet ingredient itself – sugar – has been busy making headlines. If you don’t already know why, you should. Consuming too much sugar is not beneficial to our health. It’s associated with a variety of health conditions, so it’s important to know the facts.

So what is sugar? Simply put, sugar is a carbohydrate that provides energy (calories) to our bodies. Other than that purpose, sugar has no specific nutritional benefit (for example, it isn’t high in iron or other nutrients). In other words: beyond carbs, sugar isn’t doing much for you. (Remember that we all need carbs in our diets, but not without some healthy limits).

Where is sugar found? Sugars can occur naturally in many foods. We can’t do much about that type of sugar. For example, milk, fruit, some vegetables, and grains contain sugar. Sugar can also be added to foods and drinks to enhance the flavor, texture, or to preserve a food such as in jams and jellies. This is where you want to keep an eye open!

What’s the problem? Canadians are consuming a lot of foods with added sugars. This is the type of sugar you want to be worry about and be conscious about controlling. Over time, a high intake of sugar can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, diabetes, cancer and high cholesterol.

In a day, you may consume two cookies, a bowl of cereal, a few glasses of juice or a cola beverage, a handful of dried mango, and fruit flavored yogurt – what’s the common thread? All of these foods are very likely laced with hidden sugars that have been added by manufacturers (or consumers via that handy spoon in the sugar bowl). Now, if you’re getting most of your calories from whole foods that come from the earth and eat little in the way processed foods, then no need to worry – you’re likely on the right track.

Did you know a glass of orange juice is pretty much equivalent to eating 3 or 4 oranges all at once? Would you eat that many oranges in one sitting? Not to mention you miss out the bountiful load of fibre and phytochemicals that get lost in the processing. And about that tempting can of cola: it contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar with no nutritional value whatsoever. Would you ever dare to place 10 teaspoons of sugar into your coffee? (Or, better yet, would you pop 10 sugar cubes in your mouth?). I think (or hope!) not.

So, what can you do?

  • Get informed. Get in the habit of reading nutrition labels and ingredient lists. Usually anything that ends in an “-ose” or “-ide” is a hidden form of sugar (monosaccharide, dextrose, maltose etc).
  • Limit the amount of processed foods you eat.
  • Load up on fresh, canned or frozen fruits and veggies that are loaded with fibre, water content, and other nutrients.
  • Reduce the amount of sugar you use in your coffee, baking & preparation of other foods.
  • Sip smart. Instead of gulping down heaps of juices and soda beverages, try sipping on low fat milk, water, or even plain soda water.

The bottom line: Just because we need to be informed of sugar consumption doesn’t mean you need to forgo making your favorite chocolate chip cookie, never ever make pavlova again or never sip on that fizzy cola drink. What it means is you not only need to know where/what sugar is, your body deserves to know. Another tid bit in case you’re wondering: my favorite sugar substitute lately has been honey and agave nectar; still sugar, but with more of the natural good stuff.

For more information about sugar visit www.dietitians.ca or visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation for their position statement on this hot topic!

                 – With Love, Carrots and Cake,

Carrots and Cake Nita Sharda