In my work as a functional medicine doctor, I often have patients ask me how they will achieve their health goals with cravings for the foods they have always loved.
They say, "Doc, I trust your advice would help me if I could only live on food that tastes like cardboard, but I just don't think I can do it. I don't have that kind of willpower." But what they don't yet know is that eating well is actually more pleasurable than most of the junk food filling the shelves of our current grocery stores.
I love when I see patients return after a few weeks of implementing my suggestion to trade in their SAD diet (standard American diet) for an anti-inflammatory meal plan. Undoubtedly the response is always the same: I didn't know eating healthy food could not only taste good but feel so good. The taste of good health lingers long in the body and looks good on all of us!
The next comment is usually about how excited they are to experiment with new foods but need to get out of a rut. They need new recipes and diversity too. I have provided several delicious recipes for you in previous blogs and I even have recipes on The Blood Sugar Solution website.
Of course, there are great recipes in my books as well. If you have been following my work you know that I enjoy meals that are simple to prepare yet flavorful. And apparently you do too!
I want each of you to achieve your goals and then sustain them for the rest of your life. The best way to keep reaping success after you complete one of my programs is to maintain this whole foods lifestyle and stick with the principles of anti-inflammatory eating day in and day out.
I have wanted to make more of these recipes available to you so you have no difficulty doing this, but I have been so busy and needed some help.
Then I thought, who has the best experience cooking tasty, fresh, real whole foods that are gluten- and dairy-free?
So I asked you to participate in our recipe contest to help me provide more of these recipes and this is what happened.
The recipes came pouring in. Being that this was the first time we held a contest like this we didn't know what to expect. You exceeded our wildest expectations and sent in more than 240 recipes illustrating the vast amount of sheer culinary genius among you.
These recipes are incredible! I found myself consumed with anticipation to get in the kitchen and start cooking up some of these meals.
What I enjoyed the most was your creativity, enthusiasm and understanding of how to prepare appetizing dishes within the scope of anti-inflammatory guidelines.
For example, are you curious to learn about a breakfast sausage that helped one of you shed over 90 pounds? Or how to make a muffin without using an ounce of flour?
With the warmer weather approaching I was happy to learn about how to make strawberry ice cream without the cream! I had so much fun reading each and every single recipe that I often found myself with a big grin on my face. I even laughed out loud and starting singing to myself when I read about your Simon and Garfunkel Chicken!
Who doesn't love a good Pad Thai dish but wonders how the glycemic load of all those noodles and sweet sauce won't affect insulin levels? You surely showed us how.
Each recipe was as interesting and creative as the next, and I am so excited to share your creations with you in an upcoming e-cookbook we are working on. Stay tuned for details about that.
But back to our contest. I'm sure you're eager to learn about which recipe was the winner and I am about to share that news with you. But first I want to tell you a little bit about the criteria I used to select the winners.
Yes, I said winners! You all were so incredible that I had no choice but to choose two of your recipes. I decided it would be helpful if there was a winning recipe for the Basic track participants and one for the Advanced track participants.
Spoiler alert! Next week I will share the winner for the Basic plan and I will provide the full recipe with nutrition facts for you. But now, let's discuss how I chose these winners.
When I think about what makes a recipe unique the seven keys of UltraWellness come to mind. I want a recipe to include ingredients and cooking methods that help your body improve your digestion, cool inflammation, optimize your nutrition, balance your hormones (especially insulin), boost your detoxification pathways, energize you and empower your metabolism, and of course boost brain function.
Now I know this seems like a hard bill to fit but it is actually easier than it sounds. This is what I look for:
- Are the ingredients all whole foods and recognizable? I don't want to wonder what an ingredient is or where it is made... remember I like foods grown on a plant, not made in a plant.
- I look for recipes that do not call for refined or processed carbohydrates and I always stay away from any artificial sweeteners. A good recipe doesn't rely on sugar or salt to satisfy the palate.
- To fuel my long day I need to stay energized and prevent crashes in my blood sugar. Lean sources of clean protein and healthy fats are critical in a successful recipe.
- Does it allow me to stick to a hypoallergenic diet with special attention toward eliminating gluten and dairy? I also take interest in recipes that limit other potentially-allergenic foods such as corn, soy, peanuts, eggs and yeast. These come in handy when I do the UltraSimple Diet Challenge.
- Like you, I love to eat and enjoy the entire process of meal preparation. Choosing wonderfully-smelling fresh herbs and colorful spices engages my sense of smell and sight and draws me into the act of cooking. This is where life can become an art, and the more fun I have, the better! Research shows that when we enjoy being in the kitchen we improve our health not only by cooking high quality meals at home but also by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, improving digestion and releasing stress.
- The health of our Earth is truly important to me. I know that when I choose ingredients and animal products that are sourced from organic producers that I'm voting with my dollar to protect nature. The best part is, my ecology benefits too as food grown without toxic chemical input decreases my mortality. Talk about sustainability!
- I'm pretty busy, so finding a recipe that is both easy to make and allows for leftovers is critical. I know that packing a healthy lunch, snack or making a quick dinner is just as important to you too.
Choosing just one recipe was really difficult because many of you accomplished the aforementioned in your submissions. But this recipe took the prize. Drum roll please...
Spiced Ground Turkey Wrap With Watercress and Avocado
By Mona Solar
Serves: 1 (could serve two if used as a smaller meal or part of a meal that includes a small salad or soup)
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
A luscious, spicy ground turkey wrap makes a quick, savory lunch or dinner.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 medium size carrot, julienned
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, minced
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon turmeric
- few dashes cayenne pepper (adjust to your taste)
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon parsley, minced
- 5 ounces ground turkey
- 2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth *optional
- 2 romaine lettuce leaves, rinsed (if making into wrap)
- 1/4 avocado, mashed with a fork
- 1/2 cup baby spinach, rinsed
- 1/2 cup watercress, rinsed
- In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and sauté until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger, cinnamon, coriander, turmeric, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Sauté over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the ground turkey, breaking it up into pieces with a spoon. Cook ground turkey until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes.
- Add 2 tablespoons of chicken or vegetable broth (optional) and cook for 1 minute.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and add fresh minced parsley. Remove cooked turkey mixture from heat.
- Spread a layer of mashed avocado onto romaine lettuce leaf. Add spinach, watercress, turkey mixture and roll.
* The broth is optional. I use homemade broth in many of my dishes to aid digestion and to add another layer of incredible flavor.
Serving Size (2 wraps): Calories 566, Fat 36 g, Sat 5 g., Cholesterol 70 mg, Fiber 9 g, Protein 40 g, Carbohydrates, 27 g, Sodium 314 mg
Serving Size (1 wrap): Calories 283, Fat 18 g, Sat 2.5 g., Cholesterol 35 mg, Fiber 4.5 g, Protein 20 g, Carbohydrates, 13.5 g, Sodium 157 mg
Why I Chose Spiced Ground Turkey Wraps
- Gluten and dairy-free
- Low glycemic load
- Nutrient dense and full of anti-inflammatory phytonutrients, which promote wellness in all seven keys of UltraWellness
- Lean protein
- Healthy fats: 67 percent monounsaturated fat
- Easy to prepare and allows for flexibility -- not a rigid recipe so you can use any available spices
- Adapt to vegetarian/vegan diet by swapping turkey for tempeh or beans
- Celebrates our senses with bright colors, deep flavors, interesting smells, layers of texture (creamy, chewy, crunchy)
- Able to have leftovers and use as a quick lunch the next day
- A complete meal appropriate for both Basic and Advanced Plan participants
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Congratulations to Mona and truly to all of you who participated! I hope this inspires you to enjoy some time in your kitchen this weekend. I know I will. I'm heading out to my local farmers market today to gather some fresh ingredients to prepare this recipe for you!
Now I'd like to hear from you...
Will you try this recipe with me?
What would you do differently to personalize it for you or your family?
What other ideas for anti-inflammatory meals come to mind -- share?
Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below.
To your good health,
Mark Hyman, M.D.
Mark Hyman, M.D. is a practicing physician, founder of The UltraWellness Center, a four-time New York Times bestselling author, and an international leader in the field of Functional Medicine. You can follow him on Twitter, connect with him on LinkedIn, watch his videos on YouTube, become a fan on Facebook, and subscribe to his newsletter.
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