Found: The Best Anti-Inflammatory Make-Ahead Work Lunches
Sauerkraut with greens and beef
I throw sautéed greens, ground beef, sweet potatoes, and sauerkraut into a bowl and throw it in my bag. The combination of the beneficial bacteria in sauerkraut and the starch in the sweet potatoes (which serves as food for the bacteria) is a great way to repopulate your gut flora with the right bacteria. The greens are packed with antioxidants, and the fatty beef stabilizes your blood sugar, which prevents inflammatory spikes in insulin.
To fight inflammation even during lunch, a simple tuna salad is my go-to during my workweek. I simply pack a can of wild-caught tuna and an avocado to mix together and place on top of some dark leafy greens. The healthy fats in the tuna and avocado work to down-regulate inflammatory pathways in the body while the dark leafy greens work to support methylation—your body's biochemical superhighway, which controls your inflammatory and detox pathways.
Turmeric & cauliflower
A turmeric-spiced lentil and cauliflower rice dish. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory spice, and cauliflower contains substances that promote liver detoxification, which is important to reduce inflammation in the body. Greens contain nutrients and minerals that help to dampen inflammation and contain antioxidants that fight inflammation.
My anti-inflammatory, easy-to-pack lunch is a turmeric cauliflower rice bowl topped with baked wild salmon, massaged kale, slivered almonds, my lemon tahini dressing, and some raisins for a touch of sweetness. The essential fatty acids in the salmon, vitamin K in the kale, and vitamin E in the almonds are all known for reducing inflammation throughout the body. Adding turmeric when cooking the cauliflower also improves the anti-inflammatory quality of this dish—just be sure to use ground pepper since that helps the body actually absorb the turmeric and reap all of its wonderful benefits.
—Allison (Aaron) Gross, M.S., RDN, CDN, founder of The Nutrition Curator
Kale & quinoa salad
One of my favorite anti-inflammatory lunches is a salad with seasonal ingredients as follows: kale, quinoa (seasoned with herbs and spices like garlic powder, a little turmeric, and black pepper), cherry tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and organic tofu. I make a dressing using mustard, balsamic vinegar, and a little bit of countertop foods golden honey. All of these foods are packed with nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fiber...and antioxidants! From the foods themselves to the spices used to season them (there's even turmeric in the golden honey!), this lunch is a free-radical-fighting pro, and remember, free radicals are those highly reactive and pesky molecules that can cause all sorts of damage to our bodies when they're left unneutralized.
Antioxidants are the superhero molecules that help to stabilize free radicals and thus prevent them from causing damage.
Red lentil dal soup
Salad with nuts and protein
Bonus: Pack berries as a lunch dessert.
A lot of my clients struggle with sugar cravings in the afternoon, but packing berries is a great way to combat this by giving yourself a sweet, filling treat to look forward to as a lunch "dessert." Aside from sparing you the inflammatory effects of sugary snacks, eating berries also allows you to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits of these superfoods. Research has shown that powerful antioxidants in berries help combat the effects of stress by fighting free-radical damage to cells.
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