I have a close family member who deals daily with the joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Consequently, I’ve become interested in learning more about the role diet plays in triggering inflammation — the cause at the source of the discomfort.
I wouldn’t normally turn to a cookbook by a celebrity chef as a resource, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how enlightening — and useful — I’m finding Michael Symon’s “Fix It with Food: More Than 125 Recipes to Address Autoimmune Issues and Inflammation” (Clarkson Potter, $30).
The former co-host of “The Chew” has long suffered from two chronic autoimmune diseases — rheumatoid arthritis and a form of lupus that causes skin splotches. When his flare-ups were getting progressively worse with age, he pledged to his TV viewers to follow a 10-day reset to remove the most commonly recognized culprits (sugar, flour, dairy, red meat) and replace them with foods rich in antioxidants (fruits, vegetables, whole grains) and monounsaturated or “good” fats (nuts, avocados, salmon).
Within days he noticed dramatic improvement, compelling him to dig deeper into the dietary roots of his ailments. By sticking to his regimen, he says, he’s now able to manage his pain without pills. “Fix It with Food” distills those discoveries into an easy-to-use handbook filled with practical, highly appealing recipes for every meal and occasion.
The anti-inflammatory ingredients he advocates — mushrooms, broccoli, bone broth, and turmeric, among them — would fit easily into any sensible regimen. For those who crave structure, he offers 10 days’ worth of menus to get started. I made a fabulous spread of Symon’s easy, vibrant recipes: Slow-Roasted Salmon; Roasted Pineapple and Pepper Salad; Grape and Walnut Salsa; Warm Spinach and Mushroom Salad with Pine Nuts.
Symon stresses that he’s no medical expert and his suggestions are no substitute for a physician’s advice. But there’s no doubt he knows flavor. And when great taste and nutrition intersect, everyone can feel good.
Susan Puckett is a cookbook author and former food editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow her at susanpuckett.com.
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