Sunday, June 17, 2012

Anti-Inflammatory Fattoush Salad

Fattoush Salad is a Middle Eastern salad that usually includes bread, but I leave out the pro-inflammatory gluten when I make it!

This salad  has a bright, lively flavor and is packed with herbs and vegetables that fight inflammation, prevent cancer and protect your heart. Some of the recipe components even act like natural Singulair! Even more importantly, it tastes fantastic.

Here's how I make a Fattoush Salad that fills the belly and feeds the body.
Serves: 4-6

Prep Time: 20minutes of chopping, 30 minutes to marinate.

Ingredients:

-1 cup chopped herbs. A mix of chives, cilantro, flat parsley and mint. All organic, if possible.
-1/3 cup finely diced organic red onion
-2 cloves organic garlic, minced
-1 organic red pepper diced
-1 organic cucumber, sliced
-1 organic tomato, sliced
-Salt (either Sea Salt or Himalayan Pink Salt)
-Juice of two organic lemons
-1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil (start with 1/2 cup and add more if needed)
-5 to 6 cups organic lettuce mix
-4oz. crumbled feta cheese (on the side)

Instructions:


1. Approximately 45 minutes before you want to eat, combine the chopped herbs, onion, garlic, red pepper, cucumber, salt, lemon juice and olive oil in a bowl. Let marinate on the kitchen counter while you prepare the rest of your meal--we like to serve this salad with grilled chicken, so we would put the meat on the grill at this juncture.

2. Toss the lettuce with the salad dressing and serve with feta cheese on the side.

Optional: You can add or subtract any veggie that sounds good to you. I'm actually sensitive to tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers, so I had carrots and celery with my salad.

A run down of the health benefits of this salad:

Cilantro: Known in some parts of the world as the 'anti-diabetic herb' this delicious herb also has anti-inflammatory and cholesterol lowering effects.

Chives: A cousin of garlic with similar health benefits. Anti-inflammatory, anti-bugs that make asthmatics sick, cancer preventative and good for your heart. Find out more when I start talking about the health benefits of garlic proper a little further down the page.

Flat Parsley: This herb is cancer protective and full of vitamins C and A.

Mint: Soothes digestion and good for the respiratory tract with action similar to prescription medications such as Singulair. (Note: Do not discontinue medication and try to self-treat asthma with herbs. Seek the care of a knowledgeable Functional or Integrative MD first, and, in the interim, incorporate mint into your diet.)

Onion: Lowers cholesterol, prevents blood clots, increases bone density, anti-inflammatory and reduces cancer risk.

Red Pepper: Fights inflammation and cancer protective.

Tomato: Reduces risk of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer's.

Cucumber: Full of anti-oxidants, including quercetin. Potent anti-inflammatory effects and protects against cancer.

Garlic: Improves iron absorption (helpful since anemia is often present with autoimmune conditions like asthma). Concentrated source of Selenium, a key anti-oxidant that lowers the risk of cancer. May regulate fat cell formation to inhibit weight gain. Heart and cancer protective. Anti-inflammatory "across all body systems" which is a huge benefit for asthmatics! Anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties with valid applications in mainstream medicine.

Lemon: Loaded with vitamin C which is cardioprotective and boosts the immune system to help asthmatics beat bugs.

Olive Oil: Associated with decreased risk of heart disease, when part of a healthy diet. Reduces risk of cancer. Full of anti-inflammatory polyphenols:

"Research has documented a wide variety of anti-inflammatory mechanisms used by olive oil polyphenols to lower our risk of inflammatory problems. These mechanisms include decreased production of messaging molecules that would otherwise increase inflammation (including TNF-alpha, interleukin 1-beta, thromboxane B2, and leukotriene B4); inhibition of pro-inflammatory enzymes like cyclo-oxygenase 1 and cyclo-oxygenase 2; and decreased synthesis of the enzyme inducible nitric oxide synthase.

In heart patients, olive oil and its polyphenols have also been determined to lower blood levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a widely used blood measurement for assessing the likelihood of unwanted inflammation.

They have also been found to reduce activity in a metabolic pathway called the arachidonic acid pathway, which is central for mobilizing inflammatory processes."

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