Active Cookbook: Post-Workout Meals and Snacks That Lower Inflammation
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In addition to providing a plethora of antioxidants and vitamins, berries offer a wide range of health-protective benefits, such as faster wound healing and cancer-fighting prowess. One study reveals that cranberries and blueberries counteract oxidative stress, decrease inflammation, and fight disease.
Wild Salmon and Other Omega-3-Rich Foods
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Wild-caught salmon is an excellent source of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), two potent omega-3 fatty acids that fight inflammation; anchovies, mackerel and sardines are good runner-up fish sources of omega-3s. Flaxseeds and walnuts supply ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which can be converted into EPA and DHA inside the body, but not in quantities that rival the health benefits of the DHA and EPA found in fish oils.
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Curcumin, the property that gives turmeric its sunny yellow color, blocks inflammatory chemicals in the body. Turmeric is best absorbed when eaten in combination with other spices, such as in curries or soups.
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Bromelain, a compound found in pineapple, has been found to lower inflammation as well as inhibit tumor growth, and speed healing of burned skin. Use ripe pineapple in place of sugar in baked goods—a bonus is that its water content can also replace some of the fat in your fave sweets without making your recipe dry.
Olives and Extra Virgin Olive Oil
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Olives and unrefined olive oil (cold-pressed or extra-virgin olive oil) possess anti-inflammatory polyphenols as well as heart-protective characteristics. Cooking with these delicate oils at high temperatures can degrade some of their healthy benefits, so use them when baking or cooking at lower temps, or save the expensive stuff for drizzling on dishes.
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The flavonoids in green tea are potent anti-inflammatory compounds; numerous studies have shown that properties in green tea can reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. The most obvious way to consume green tea is to brew it as a hot or cold beverage, but did you know that you could cook with it, too?
Recovery Snack #1
Nut Butter, Cranberry and Flax Cookies 7 of 13
If you've ever tried olive oil cake, then you can appreciate the genius of substituting the butter that's normally called for in cookie recipes with extra virgin olive oil—you get all of the rich, palette-clinging flavor that fat provides plus the heart-health benefits of this Mediterranean staple. Made with the nut butter of your choice, these cookies sweetened with maple syrup are healthier than packaged energy bars.
Recovery Snack #2
Berry Hemp Nut Muffins 8 of 13
Who says muffins should only be eaten at breakfast? Packed with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as anti-inflammatory berries, these muffins made with whole-wheat flour and protein-rich ground almonds provide the perfect post-workout pick-me-up.
Recovery Snack #3
30-Second Trail Mix 9 of 13
Instead of refueling with processed trail mix—that's often filled with dyes, unhealthy added fats and chemicals you can't pronounce—when your body is in a vulnerable post-workout state, make your own at home. It takes 30 seconds or less if you have the ingredients on hand, and as long as you pick all-natural pretzels, nuts, dried fruits and chocolate, you'll be good to go.
Recovery Meal #1
Kale Caesar Salad 10 of 13
Kale is the trendiest leafy green these days, and for good reason: just one cup of the superfood contains staggering amounts of vitamins A, C and K, as well as calcium, fiber, iron and inflammation-fighting omega-3s. Coupled with an olive oil-based, egg-free dressing, this more nutritious take on a classic salad is great to tote to the beach or park for picnics during warm weather.
Recovery Meal #2
Salmon With Pineapple Salsa and Green Tea Coconut Rice 11 of 13
You simply can't beat wild-caught salmon (and other oily fish) for its omega-3 anti-inflammatory properties. Wild, sustainable salmon is more expensive than the farmed stuff, but the cost is well worth the health and environmental benefits. Paired with a sweet and spicy fresh pineapple salsa and Asian-inspired rice, this meal provides all the post-workout protein and carbs you need in a flavorful way.
Recovery Meal #3
Moroccan Chicken With Olive and Fruit Couscous 12 of 13
This isn't your ordinary chicken dinner. A less time-consuming riff on a Moroccan tagine, this meal is an exotic way to get your post-workout carb and protein requirements. Tantalize your tastebuds with antioxidant-rich spices, herbs, dried fruits and salty olives.