03 March, 2012

Broccoli Tahini Salad with Almonds and Sesame

For the past week or so I have been obsessed with anti-inflammatory foods. It was all triggered by this blog post of fellow Dubai food blogger Ruth about an anti-inflammatory diet.
Inflammation is the first response of the immune system to infection or irritation. The usual signs of inflammation (swelling, redness, pain) occur when we hurt ourselves or have some kind of infection. Eating the wrong foods can cause and/or aggravate inflammation within our bodies.

While short-lived acute inflammation is crucial to keep us alive (e.g. after a bruise or cut), chronic inflammation that persists for a long period can kill us slowly over time. When low doses of pro-inflammatory substances continue to be released into the body for an extended period, they attack healthy cells, blood vessels and tissues instead of protecting them. These attacks may not always trigger pain and are nowhere to be seen, unlike a bruise or a cut sustained to the skin.

Chronic inflammation is being regarded as one of the underlying causes for diseases like Diabetes Type 2, heart disease, stroke, cancer, Alzheimer, dementia, inflammatory bowel diseases and diseases with unknown causes such as allergies or migraines.

Now what can cause chronic inflammation? Apart from mental stress, lack of sleep, environmental toxins and microorganisms (e.g. viruses and bacteria) it is food and food allergies.
In imbalance of intake of Omega 3 (the good ones) and Omega 6 (the bad ones) fatty acids, a diet high in insulin-spiking foods (such as refined flours and sugars) cause the body to react with the production of pro-inflammatory hormones.

Interestingly, foods that are otherwise considered very healthy are on the inflammatory side of the scale, especially grains (including whole grains), but also beans and lentils, and probably more obvious due to their sugar content, most fruits.

With regards to the grains, I agree with it. I enjoy a mostly gluten free diet, but I actually try and avoid most grains if possible or have very little, as they leave me sluggish, full and bloated. I am still researching this issue. A very good book to read is The Inflammation-Free Diet Plan by Monica Reinagel.

For the first time in my life, I kept a food journal for three days. I wanted to know if my diet is actually inflammatory or not. I figured out quite quickly, which foods will get me onto the positive side of the scale. And a few of the foods that I considered healthy brought the sum down by quite a bit.
This salad definitely helped me to keep the sum on the upper side. It's not only the broccoli, but also the almonds (more than other nuts), the olive oil and the garlic that make this salad an anti-inflammatory delicious lunch or side dish.

I hope I got you interested in this topic. I am all over it as it makes sense in so many ways. Will keep on researching and hopefully will be able to tell you more about it very soon.
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BROCCOLI TAHINI SALAD WITH ALMONDS AND SESAME


1lb broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets

1/4 cup tahini
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 small garlic clove, minced (optional)
hot water

1/4 cup whole almonds
2 tablespoons black and/or white sesame seeds

Serves 2-4
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In a dry skillet over medium low heat, toast the almonds until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Shake the pan regularly while toasting to avoid burning on one side. Take off the heat and let cool. Chop and set aside.

Steam the broccoli florets for a few minutes, until barely tender. Turn them into a bowl of ice-cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and set aside.

In a small pan, whisk together tahini, olive oil, salt and garlic (if chosen). Whisk in hot water little by little to reach the desired consistency. I like mine similar to the consistency of mayonnaise.

Transfer broccoli to serving bowl. Gently stir in the tahini dressing. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped almonds. Best served at room temperature or cold.

11 comments:

  1. I never really think about inflammation- good to know. Thanks for the info and for another great, healthy recipe!

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  2. I have been into the prospect anti-inflammatory foods lately, as well! Many of them seem to be "old wives tales" at this stage and not fully tested, but I have heard many spices like tumeric and ginger can do wonders. The issue with them is the amount one needs is contested. There's a point where you can certainly overdose on strong spices like ginger which will do more harm than good... but it doesn't keep me from a sprinkle in many meals. Keeping inflammation down seems like a daily thing you can do to keep your body running that much better. I have many "mild, secondary" food allergies to both foods and preservatives (like sulfites, still in most packaged foods and sauces here in the west) that make me itchy, red, dry skin, etc. Those are all signs your body is inflammed inside and out and reducing those triggers is key. For me I need to simply cook the food that causes the allergies (all nuts and stone fruits) and the trigger goes away as the chemical makeup changes and the proteins break down. I hope I still get the benefits of these foods (like almonds) even if not raw... frustrating when the anti-infammatory food causes the inflammation! Alright, all I want to say is I look forward to more of your findings and these types of recipes :)

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  3. An interesting post. Mi diet is special, for a problem intestinal, and also anti.inflammatory. Thanks.

    Núria

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  4. Hey Anja...great recipe as usual. I am also keen on keeping inflammatory foods low in my diet but I have to say that the topic of grains and inflammation is still highly contested and while having a diet that comprises a high amount of grains is not a healthy choice, I believe that following a hunter gatherer diet like our ancestors is not one either..I personally don't mind a moderate portion of wholegrain, preferably organic grains with my meals....

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  5. I really like how your food interests are in tune with mine - I just have to look at your latest entry and you've done the work for me!

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  6. i have been a plant-based eater for about 2 years now--it took me a while to get here, but i am...now that i have established this, the next layer in my onion towards optimal health is the concept of inflammatory or anti-inflammatory foods as well as body ph balance...i regularly check into a website that lists the inflammatory or anti-inflam properties of foods, and it's interesting to see if i can balance out against the inflamm foods---some inflamm foods have amazing nutritional content...i believe if i just continue on plant based eating, i will keep myself at the right side of the anti-inflamm equation...great post...thanks

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  7. You can eat all the anti inflammatory foods you desire, but if you're deficient in glutathione not much will happen. Glutathione is the body's own anti inflammatory agent. I solved my inflammation issues with a glutathione booster at
    http://www.glutathioneforhealth.com/Inflammation.htm

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  8. I just found your Foodblog on the internet and I love it!!
    Added you to my favourites immediately!

    Great and healthy recipes, with a lot of pure ingredients, that's what food is about!

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  9. This looks absolutely delicious!
    I am definately trying it!

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  10. I made this salad for lunches this week, and added some canned (drained) mandarin oranges that I had in the cupboard as well. It's a really worthwhile addition - the little bit of sweetness and the colour goes very well with the nuttiness and creaminess of the tahini.

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  11. This is delicious and super easy!

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