An interview with Amie Valpone, of the Healthy Apple by, Dr. Madiha Saeed
Who knew your kitchen could be your pharmacy? Inspirational Chef, Blogger and Author Amie Valpone did. In fact, she took her passion for food to the next level when doctors told her they couldn’t treat her serious illness. She was so determined to heal that she underwent a full diet and lifestyle make-over. Now, Amie shares her healing wisdom in her recently released book, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation and Reset Your Body.
The idea behind culinary medicine is rather simple. Exhaustion, sinus issues, pain, bloating and digestive issues, anxiety, depression and other symptoms usually reflect that your body is out of balance. The foods in your kitchen can help return your body to balance. Healing is possible, but it doesn’t come from a pill. “Certain foods can create inflammation, and other foods can help heal our bodies,” Amie says in her book, and offers five crucial tips that use food as medicine.
- Focus on One-Ingredient Whole Foods. “You can base your entire life around using one-ingredient foods for your meals and snacks without having to turn to a processed food or canned food, which would be inflammatory.” To detox the body, Amie believes cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy and radish are crucial. “These veggies are wonderful at removing excess hormones and toxins; they will help your liver detox.” Other healing foods she recommends are lemons, fresh ginger, cilantro and parsley. “Try these ingredients daily in drinks, salads, stir-fries! We can start healing and nourishing our bodies by eating organic (so that we are not eating antibiotics/growth hormones/pesticides/herbicides that are in non-organic foods) as well as eating as close to the natural source of the food as possible!” It is also important to keep your diet well-rounded and not deprive yourself of the foods that your body wants and needs. “Our bodies need to identify the foods we are eating so that they can absorb and assimilate the nutrients on a daily basis, which is what keeps our bodies healthy and keeps our immune system in tip-top shape.”
- Use Nourishing Salt. Refined table salt is inflammatory. So replace it with real sea salt, Celtic or Himalayan salt which are full of minerals that help nourish the body, turning every meal into a power meal.
- Say No to Bad Oil. Vegetable oils, such as corn oil, soybean oil or canola oil, are bad news. Restaurants widely use them because they are cheap and refined, which means they are also very inflammatory. Amie recommends using coconut or avocado oil for cooking over high heat, and extra-virgin olive oil for salads, dressings and other dishes. Do not use olive oil over high heat because that also can be inflammatory. “Many people don’t realize olive oil should be used over very low heat or just for salads and dressings. I use avocado oil and coconut oil for most of my cooking and baking.”
- Go Nuts for Nuts — but Choose Wisely. Not all nuts are good for you. Some are inflammatory, while others are better for your health. “For instance, peanuts and pistachios are high in mold, causing inflammation in our bodies, while walnuts and almonds are anti-inflammatory,” Amie describes. “Walnuts and ground flax seeds are full of Omega 3 fatty acids to help fight inflammation in our bodies.” It is important to purchase nuts in their raw form without added oils, salts or sugars. She also recommends making your own almond milk (the recipe is in her cookbook) instead of buying processed almond milk, which includes chemicals and preservatives.
- Clean Up the World Around Us. A clean inside should come with a clean outside. Removing processed foods from our diet is key but only part of the solution. “As we slowly start to ‘clean up’ our environment in our home and our lifestyle, we notice we feel better.” She recommends removing scented candles, plastics and avoiding deodorant with aluminum. By focusing on a clean environment — inside and out — “we are lessening the body burden from toxins and our body is then able to detox better — leaving us feeling amazing!”
These simple tips help us to truly provide our body with everything it needs to shed inflammation and become energetic once again. Amie also provides advice on how to detox cleaning supplies and personal care products/beauty products. That advice along with her food recommendations are crucial to learning to live a clean lifestyle so our bodies can heal without exposure to toxins in everything around us. Recipes in Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body do not include gluten, dairy, soy, eggs, corn, peanuts, refined sugar and other inflammatory foods.
What are your favorite anti-inflammatory foods?