Nutritionist Jane Clarke’s delicious recipes can combat inflammation and lead to a longer life

Adella Miesner

Save yourself from this silent killer: Nutritionist Jane Clarke’s delicious recipes – exclusive to the Mail – can combat hidden inflammation and lead to a longer life… The key thing the past few months has reminded us of is the importance of looking after our health and that of our […]

Save yourself from this silent killer: Nutritionist Jane Clarke’s delicious recipes – exclusive to the Mail – can combat hidden inflammation and lead to a longer life…

The key thing the past few months has reminded us of is the importance of looking after our health and that of our loved ones.

As we continue to negotiate our ‘new normal’, it’s also a golden opportunity to look at our diets and to tackle one of the biggest challenges facing our health today.

It’s called inflammation, and scientists and medical professionals worldwide believe it may be the biggest risk factor for serious diseases such as cancer, arthritis, heart disease and dementia that we are facing right now.

Nutritionist Jane Clarke’s (pictured) delicious recipes will help you combat inflammation

Inflammation isn’t just a problem for the middle aged and older generations – its impact is seen in the health of our children, teens and young adults.

Depression, type 2 diabetes and obesity – all conditions that can have inflammation as one of their root causes – are affecting our youth here and now, and the implications are dire for their future health if we don’t take action.

WHICH FATS ARE GOOD?

Some fat is essential in our diet, as it helps us to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and minerals such as beta carotene and vitamin E from food. 

Think about having a source of ‘good fat’ in every meal, and by that I mean including a food or ingredient that contains omega fatty acids, which are important dietary fats that have been proven to help reduce inflammation.

There are three different types of omega fats: Omega 3 (good sources include oily fish, seeds and nuts); Omega 6 (found in cooking oil, mayonnaise, nuts and seeds); and Omega 9 (from olive, almond and avocado oils, and seeds).

Saturated fats, found in meat and many processed foods, can interfere with the beneficial effects of omega fatty acids, so this is the type of fat you want to reduce in your diet.

How you cook with fat is important. Every fat has a different smoke point, which is the temperature at which it begins to break down, creating a burnt or rancid flavour.

It’s at this point that some of the health benefits of the fat can be lost, as beneficial nutrients are destroyed and harmful free radicals are released.

These free radicals attack healthy cells in the body and cause inflammation that puts us at risk of disease.

For frying or roasting foods, choose a fat with a higher smoke point – I cook with rapeseed or coconut oil and drizzle olive oil cold onto dishes.

It’s best not to fry with olive oil as it breaks down at high temperatures. 

Instead, a slick of olive oil straight from the bottle can’t be beaten on roasted veg, just before serving. 

As a dietitian and nutritionist for 30 years, including advising Jamie Oliver during his school meals campaign, I’ve seen the real difference good food choices can make to people’s health.

And this is no more true than when it comes to tackling inflammation.

The good news is that ‘good choices’ doesn’t mean ‘unappetising’ – as a trained Cordon Bleu chef I’ve devised an anti-inflammation diet that’s full of tempting and easy-to-prepare recipes full of the foods that are rich in anti-inflammatory benefits.

This plan, developed exclusively for Daily Mail readers, will not only make you feel better – within days your stomach will be less bloated, you’ll lose weight, your eyes and skin will be clearer, your joints will feel less stiff and achy – but the foods you will eat and the principles you follow will make a difference deep inside your body, reducing your risk of serious disease. 

WHAT IS INFLAMMATION?

Inflammation is our body’s way of fighting against damage – it’s a natural response to injuries, infections, toxins and even some foods.

Inflammation is our very own fire alarm; it tells us there’s a problem in the body and calls on our natural defences to help fix it, whether that’s an infection or a sprained ankle.

Usually, the response will last a few hours or days, just enough time for your body to release the chemicals that can deal with the problem and help it recover.

But sometimes the ‘fire alarm’ keeps on ringing, the body’s inflammatory response is triggered and won’t turn off, and that’s bad news for our health.

When our body is exposed to inflammatory factors, it releases white blood cells to defend cells. The problem is when inflammation lingers and increases, it causes these white blood cells to attack internal organs and healthy tissue.

Stressed cells also produce free radicals, molecules that damage the structure of cells.

This kind of chronic inflammation can begin to cause an array of health problems, from skin conditions such as eczema to heart disease and stroke, cancers and arthritis, and autoimmune conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and psoriasis, as well as mood disorders, depression and dementia. 

Frozen berries are an essential item to have in your store cupboard when trying to fight inflammation says Jane

Frozen berries are an essential item to have in your store cupboard when trying to fight inflammation says Jane

SO WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?

So what causes chronic inflammation? There are a number of factors: environmental issues such as pollution; lifestyle causes including stress, smoking and excess alcohol; autoimmune diseases, unresolved infection and injury; allergies and food intolerances.

And then there’s what we eat. Our modern diet is stuffed with foods that trigger an inflammator y response. Studies show that ultraprocessed foods in particular are ‘pro’ inflammatory (by ultra-processed we mean foods that are high in artificial additives, sugar, and saturated fat and trans fats, which are unstable fats produced during the heating and production of foods).

Many simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, white pasta and white rice, can also trigger an inflammatory effect, as they fasttrack the release of glucose into the body, which is not good news if your diet already contains a lot of sugar.

Sugar overload is linked with raised liver fat, which scientists believe triggers inflammation. 

STORE CUPBOARD ESSENTIALS 

We know that highly processed foods cause inflammation, but many natural ingredients actually fight the effects of inflammation happening in our body and actively work to protect our cells.

Add these anti-inflammatory standbys to your shopping list so that you always have them to hand. 

You’ll just need to add fresh fruit or veg for a healthy meal in minutes.

  • Oats
  • Frozen berries 
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Dried fruit
  • Fresh herbs – wash, chop and freeze them in ice cube trays
  • Garlic
  • Ginger – grate and freeze 
  • Beans and pulses, such as chickpeas, lentils and butter beans – these can be either dried or tinned
  • Brown rice and pasta
  • Tinned oily fish, such as sardines and pilchards
  • Coconut milk, for curries and soups
  • Olive oil, for drizzling and salad dressings
  • Rapeseed or coconut oil, for frying
  • Green and herbal teas, and also white tea (available from health food shops and supermarkets)
  • Buckwheat and wholemeal flour   

THE WARNING SIGNS

Chronic inflammation is very hard to measure; there isn’t one simple test that will ‘prove’ it is there, so it’s often a hidden problem only identified during diagnosis of another health problem.

But if you already have signs of chronic or inflammatory disease or conditions that could lead to it – high blood pressure, insulin resistance (a precursor to type 2 diabetes, it’s when your body doesn’t respond to insulin, leading to high glucose levels in the blood), type 2 diabetes or an autoimmune condition, then you are affected by inflammation. Other signs might include fatigue and insomnia, skin conditions, muscle and joint pain, frequent infections, depression, anxiety and mood disorders, and gastrointestinal problems.

FOOD THAT YOU’LL LOVE

Fortunately, changes to what we eat will have a profound, lasting effect on inflammation, reducing triggers and helping diminish symptoms.

And we’re not talking complicated food plans with expensive, hard-tofind ingredients. I’ve devised delicious recipes you’ll want to cook time and time again – and they’re all easy to make with accessible, affordable ingredients.

This eating plan isn’t about denial and deprivation. There are some foods I’ll ask you to reduce or cut out, including ultra-processed takeaways, ready meals and junk food that’s crammed with additives, fat and empty calories.

In their place, I want you to cook from scratch where possible, with fresh fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, beans, pulses, lean meat and healthy fats.

I’ll also be showing how you can add even more taste and goodness to your meals with herbs, spices and seasonings that are renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties.

This isn’t a weight-loss diet, but a happy outcome for many people following it will be that they will naturally lose excess pounds – pounds that, in a vicious cycle, lead to greater risk of inflammation related diseases.

So not only will you reduce the number of inflammatory foods you eat, you’ll also make your body less prone to further inflammation in the process.

Today and over the coming week exclusively in the Daily Mail, you can find recipes for breakfasts, lunches, suppers, puddings, drinks and snacks.

Plus, I’ve shared insight and advice from my three decades of experience in looking after people, young and old, with cancer, dementia and inflammatory diseases.

The principles of the anti-inflammatory diet are straightforward – see my key rules to remember, right. Stick with them, make the change and start future-proofing your and your family’s health today. 

FLATBREADS WITH PARMA HAM & ROCKET PESTO

Wholemeal flatbreads provide such a high-fibre gut boost. These are topped with a fresh rocket pesto, bursting in antioxidants, to create a delicious anti-inflammatory dish.  

Flatbreads with parma ham and rocket pesto (pictured) are bursting in antioxidants, to create a delicious anti-inflammatory dish

Flatbreads with parma ham and rocket pesto (pictured) are bursting in antioxidants, to create a delicious anti-inflammatory dish

Serves 2

  • 1tbsp organic cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 200g (7oz) tinned artichoke hearts, drained, patted dry with kitchen paper
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves (according to taste), finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2 large or 4 small wholemeal flatbreads
  • 6-8 slices of Parma ham

For the rocket pesto

  • 100g (3½oz) rocket
  • 50g (1¾oz) Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 25g (1oz) toasted pine nuts (or dry roast your own in a pan for 1 minute)
  • 50ml (2fl oz) olive oil

Preheat the oven to 150°C/fan 130°C/gas 2. To make the pesto, place three-quarters of the rocket, the Parmesan, garlic, toasted pine nuts and olive oil in a food processor (or use a pestle and mortar) and blend to your desired consistency.

Heat the rapeseed oil in a large frying pan. Cut the artichoke hearts into thumbsized pieces and add to the pan.

Add the red onion and garlic and fry until golden. Season and finish with the lemon juice. Meanwhile, heat up the flatbreads for a few minutes in the oven, then place them on a plate.

Top with the artichoke mixture, then the Parma ham. Drizzle with the rocket pesto and top with the remaining rocket leaves.

APPLE, CELERY & GINGER JUICE  

This is a favourite of mine – a cleansing, energy-boosting juice, brimming with inflammation busting ginger.

Apple, celery and ginger juice (pictured) is 'a cleansing, energy-boosting juice, brimming with inflammation busting ginger'

Apple, celery and ginger juice (pictured) is ‘a cleansing, energy-boosting juice, brimming with inflammation busting ginger’

Makes 2 portions 

  • 2 apples (Braeburn or Granny Smith), peeled, cored and chopped  
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped, plus extra to serve (optional) 
  • A thumbnail-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • ½ a lemon
  • A few sprigs of fresh mint (optional)

Following the instructions on your juicer, extract the juice from the apples, celery and ginger. Stir well and serve in glasses over a little ice. Add a squeeze of lemon and a stick of celery or a few mint leaves to garnish.

BLUEBERRY SMOOTHIE

A tasty combination of anti-inflammatory berries with protein-rich flax seeds.

Blueberry smoothie (pictured) is a tasty combination of anti-inflammatory berries with protein-rich flax seeds

Blueberry smoothie (pictured) is a tasty combination of anti-inflammatory berries with protein-rich flax seeds

Makes 2 portions 

  • 100g (3½oz) frozen or fresh blueberries  
  • 4 large strawberries, hulled
  • A handful of spinach leaves
  • 1tbsp flax seeds 
  • 200ml (7fl oz) almond or your favourite nondairy milk

Wash the fruit and spinach. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend to a smooth consistency. Serve immediately for the highest nutritional content. 

BUCK WHEAT PANCAKES WITH MIXED BERRY COMPOTE 

These buckwheat pancakes are light on the gut and served with anti-inflammatory mixed berries. 

Buck wheat pancakes with mixed berry compote (pictured) are light on the gut

Buck wheat pancakes with mixed berry compote (pictured) are light on the gut 

Makes 8 pancakes

For the compote

  • 350g (12oz) mixed berries (such as raspberries, blueberries, strawberries), fresh or frozen
  • 50ml (2fl oz) runny honey (or agave or date syrup)

For the pancakes

  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 140ml (4½fl oz) buttermilk
  • 2tbsp runny honey (or date or agave syrup), plus extra to serve
  • 1tbsp organic coldpressed rapeseed oil, plus extra for frying
  • 225g (8oz) buckwheat flour
  • 1½tsp baking powder
  • ¼tsp ground cinnamon
  • A pinch of salt
  • Greek-style natural yoghurt, to serve

To make the compote, place the berries and honey (or your preferred sweetener) in a pan and cook slowly until the liquid has dissolved. Set aside. 

To make the pancakes, combine the egg, buttermilk, honey and oil in a bowl and whisk until smooth. In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. 

Whisk into the wet ingredients, stirring until combined. Place a large, non-stick or iron frying pan on a medium heat and add a little oil. When hot, add 2-3 spoonfuls of the pancake mix. 

Cook until holes form around the edges, then flip and cook on other side for about 2 minutes. Repeat until you have 8 pancakes. Serve with a spoonful of yoghurt, the compote and a drizzle of honey.

TOASTED CHEESY RYE SOURDOUGH & TOMATO SALSA

Place the red onion, chilli and garlic in a bowl with the red wine vinegar and a little salt and black pepper. Add the tomatoes, chives and parsley. Add 2tbsp of the rapeseed oil and some more seasoning.

Toasted cheesy rye sourdough and tomato salsa (pictured)

Toasted cheesy rye sourdough and tomato salsa (pictured)

Combine well and set aside. Place a large frying pan on a low-medium heat. Brush the sourdough slices with the remaining oil.

Lay the cheese on the unoiled side of 2 sourdough slices, then top with the remaining slices, oil-side up.

Fry, turning regularly, for a good 10-15 minutes, until cooked to taste (cut in half if too big for the pan). Towards the end, turn up the heat slightly to get the perfect crust. Serve with the salsa on the side.

There is nothing more satisfying than a good cheese toastie, but in order to ensure that it’s not too rich and unbalanced, I’ve served it with a fresh tomato salsa to provide you with a great antioxidant-rich accompaniment.

Serves 2  

  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely diced
  • ½ a garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 250g (9oz) cherry tomatoes, finely chopped
  • A handful of chives, finely sliced
  • A handful of parsley, chopped
  • 4tbsp organic cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 4 large slices of sourdough bread
  • 200g (7oz) Gruyère (or your favourite cheese), sliced 

GREEN VEGETABLE SHAKSHUKA

In this green version of a shakshuka, I’ve replaced the traditional tomato base with an abundance of iron and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory green vegetables and herbs. 

The base is easy to pre-prepare and can be frozen for later use.

In this green vegetable shakshuka (pictured), the traditional tomato base has been replaced with an abundance of iron and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory green vegetables and herbs

In this green vegetable shakshuka (pictured), the traditional tomato base has been replaced with an abundance of iron and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory green vegetables and herbs

Serves 2  

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • A pinch of ground cumin
  • 100g (3½oz) Brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 100g (3½oz) courgettes, grated
  • 100g (3½oz) broccoli, broken into small florets  
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A handful of spinach leaves
  • 4 free range or organic eggs
  • A bunch of parsley, chopped
  • A bunch of coriander, chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Organic rapeseed oil, for drizzling

Heat a little vegetable oil in a large, non-stick pan on a medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until softened.

Add the cumin to your taste and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sprouts and courgette and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add the broccoli and cook until softened. Season with salt and pepper, then stir in the spinach. Spread the mixture evenly around the pan, then carefully crack in the eggs, leaving a space between them.

Season and turn down the heat to cook the eggs gently (to cook them faster, cover the pan with a lid). When the eggs are cooked to your liking, remove from the heat, sprinkle with the parsley, coriander and avocado, and drizzle with rapeseed oil. 

 PERSIAN BEAN STEW WITH WHOLEWHEAT PITTA BREAD

This stew provides a good source of gut fibre. If you can’t find dried Persian limes at your greengrocer, simply use fresh limes instead.

The Persian bean stew with wholewheat pitta bread provides a good source of gut fibre

The Persian bean stew with wholewheat pitta bread provides a good source of gut fibre

Serves 4

  • 50ml (2fl oz) organic cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • 1 large white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1-2tsp ground turmeric
  • 5 dried Persian limes (or 2 fresh limes), cut into quarters
  • 1tbsp fenugreek leaves (Asian supermarkets or online)
  • 200g (7oz) spring onions
  • 100g (3½oz) chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
  • 100g (3½oz) chopped fresh coriander, plus more for garnish
  • 2 tins of butter beans
  • 2 tins of kidney beans
  • 800ml (1½pt) vegetable stock
  • Sea salt and black pepper
  • 4 large or 8 small wholewheat pitta breads

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium heat until translucent. Now add the turmeric, Persian (or fresh) limes and the fenugreek leaves. Stir while cooking for 1 minute.

Add the spring onions, chopped fresh parsley and coriander, and cook until everything is wilted down. Next, stir in the beans and the vegetable stock. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste, and slowly bring to a simmer.

Cook for around 20 minutes, or until the beans are softened. Warm the pitta bread under a medium grill and serve alongside the stew, with lots of parsley and coriander on top. 

HOMEMADE FISH TACOS WITH LEMON MAYONNAISE

The inflammation-busting spices here make these tacos a wonderfully healthy supper.

The inflammation-busting spices of the homemade fish tacos with lemon mayonnaise (pictured) make them a wonderfully healthy supper

The inflammation-busting spices of the homemade fish tacos with lemon mayonnaise (pictured) make them a wonderfully healthy supper

Serves 4

  • For the fish marinade
  • 800g (1lb 12oz) cod or other flaky white fish
  • 80ml (2½fl oz) olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1tsp each of chilli powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin and garlic powder
  • ½tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the mayonnaise

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1tbsp Dijon mustard
  • Zest and juice of ½ a lemon
  • 2-3 drops of Tabasco
  • 250ml (9fl oz) olive oil
  • Accompaniments
  • 8 wholewheat tortillas
  • 2 red onions, finely sliced
  • ½ a lemon
  • 300g (10½oz) cherry tomatoes, small, diced
  • Spring onion, finely sliced.
  • 1 bunch of coriander, finely chopped 
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges

Cut the fish into 2cm-thick pieces. Place the olive oil, lime juice, chilli powder, smoked paprika, cumin, garlic and cayenne pepper into a bowl.

Add the fish and mix gently. Chill for at least 30 minutes. For the mayonnaise, put the egg yolks in a bowl.

Add the mustard, a dash of lemon juice and the tabasco. Slowly whisk the olive oil in until the mayonnaise thickens. Season and add the remaining lemon juice and zest. Heat the coconut oil in a large non-stick pan.

Remove the fish from the marinade and season. Fry on both sides for 3 minutes, then leave to rest in the pan.

Meanwhile, warm the tortillas under a medium grill or in the microwave for a few seconds. Put the sliced onion in a dish with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add the cherry tomatoes and spring onion.

Flake the fish with a fork and place in a serving bowl. Serve with the warm tortillas, the tomato salad and the mayonnaise on the side. Garnish with coriander and serve with lime wedges for squeezing over.   

STIR-FRY LAMB WITH VEGETABLES & NOODLES

Lamb is a brilliant source of iron and protein, and the chilli and ginger have great anti-inflammatory properties.

Pictured, stir-fry lamb with vegetables and noodles. Lamb is a brilliant source of iron and protein, and the chilli and ginger have great anti-inflammatory properties

Pictured, stir-fry lamb with vegetables and noodles. Lamb is a brilliant source of iron and protein, and the chilli and ginger have great anti-inflammatory properties

Serves 4

  • 500g (1lb 2oz) lamb fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-3tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
  • 50g (1¾oz) ginger, peeled and sliced into fine matchsticks
  • 1 red onion
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) at least 3 seasonal vegetables (such as mangetout, baby sweetcorn, red pepper and broccoli), cut into similar sizes
  • 300g (10½oz) buckwheat noodles, cooked to packet instructions and cooled under running water 
  • Soy sauce, to taste
  • Chopped fresh coriander 

Cut the lamb fillets into even-sized pieces and season them with salt and black pepper.

Heat half the oil in a wok and fry the lamb fillets until golden brown. Remove from the pan and return the pan to the heat.

Add more oil, then add the garlic, chilli, ginger and onion. Cook until just starting to brown and soften. Add the vegetables and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes.

Return the lamb to the pan and add the noodles. Stir the soy sauce in and sprinkle with fresh coriander to serve. 

 CHICKEN, TURMERIC, SWEET POTATO & KALE CURRY

Kale is packed full of antioxidants and iron. The turmeric fried chicken is satisfying and delicious with the wild rice.

Chicken, turmeric, sweet potato and kale curry (pictured)

Chicken, turmeric, sweet potato and kale curry (pictured) 

Serves 4

  • 4tbsp red curry paste
  • 2tsp ground turmeric
  • 600g (1lb 5oz) diced chicken leg meat
  • 2tbsp coconut oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 white onions, sliced
  • 75g (2¾oz) grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, finely diced
  • 1tsp flaked chilli
  • ½tsp ground cumin
  • 250g (9oz) kale
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • 2tbsp soy sauce
  • 150ml (5fl oz) chicken stock
  • 500g (1lb 2oz) wild rice (cook according to the packet instructions)
  • Sprigs of fresh coriander
  • A squeeze of lime juice

Rub the curry paste and turmeric into the diced chicken leg meat.

Heat up a large pan for the curry and add the coconut oil. Fry off the chicken over a medium heat for 5 minutes and season.

Remove the chicken from the pan and add the onion, ginger and garlic. Gently fry until translucent. Now add the sweet potato, flaked chilli and ground cumin, and cook for 5 minutes.

Return the chicken to the pan and add the kale, coconut milk, soy sauce and chicken stock. Bring to the boil, stir, then lower the heat. Put a lid on top and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the sweet potato breaks down slightly to thicken the curry and the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with wild rice, some fresh coriander and a squeeze of lime. 

TURKEY BURGERS & TZATZIKI

Turkey is an underappreciated protein-rich food, which when combined with the fresh tzatziki provides us with anti inflammation ingredients.

Turkey burgers and tzatziki (pictured). Turkey is an underappreciated protein-rich food, which when combined with the fresh tzatziki provides us with anti inflammation ingredients

Turkey burgers and tzatziki (pictured). Turkey is an underappreciated protein-rich food, which when combined with the fresh tzatziki provides us with anti inflammation ingredients

Serves 4

For the burgers

  • 800g (1lb 12oz) lean minced turkey (or substitute with chicken or lean pork)
  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • ½tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp each of dried oregano, marjoram and paprika
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bag of spinach, cooked, cooled, squeezed of water and finely chopped
  • 150g (5½oz) crumbled feta cheese
  • ½tbsp coconut oil
  • 4 large wholewheat buns For the tzatziki
  • 2 cucumbers l 500g (1lb 2oz)
  • Greek yoghurt
  • Olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
  • A small handful each of dill and mint, chopped, plus extra dill to garnish For the burger garnish
  • ½ a lettuce, such as baby gem
  • 2 large tomatoes, sliced

To make the patties, place the minced meat, spices and seasoning in a bowl and knead until well combined.

Add the spinach and feta and gently work into the meat. Shape into 4 large patties, around 2.5cm thick.

You can make these up a day in advance, if you would like, and chill until needed. Now make the tzatziki.

Grate the cucumber and add a little salt, then set aside for a few minutes. Mix the yoghurt with the olive oil, garlic, dill and mint.

Squeeze out the water from the grated cucumber then add it to the yoghurt, and combine. Season again, to taste. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan.

Add the burgers and cook for 10 minutes, turning regularly – you might want to cook them in batches. Lightly toast the buns under a medium grill.

Assemble each of your burgers with a few lettuce leaves, slices of tomato, a burger patty, a dollop of tzatziki and some extra dill to garnish. 

LEMON & THYME SUNDAY ROAST

This has everything for a healthy Sunday lunch. Chicken is a great source of protein, which helps stabilise our blood sugar. 

Lemon and thyme Sunday roast (pictured) contains chicken which is a great source of protein that helps stabilise our blood sugar

Lemon and thyme Sunday roast (pictured) contains chicken which is a great source of protein that helps stabilise our blood sugar

Serves 4

  • 2 large carrots
  • 2 onions
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 medium free range chicken (approx 1.8-2.4kg/4-5½lb)
  • 2 knobs of butter
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1-2tbsp organic coldpressed rapeseed oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 large sweet potatoes
  • 200g (7oz) asparagus
  • 250g (9oz) green beans
  • 200g (7oz) sugar snap peas
  • 300ml (10fl oz) chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5. Peel the carrots and onions then chop roughly and place in a roasting tin with half the lemon.

Take the chicken and stuff it with the butter, remaining sliced lemon, 3 garlic cloves and 2 sprigs of thyme.

Place it on top of the vegetables, rub some organic rapeseed oil over the skin and season well with salt and pepper.

Place on the top shelf of the oven and roast for 1.5- 2 hours, depending on the size of your chicken, until cooked through and any juices run clear.

Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes, cut into wedges and spread out on a baking tray. Season with the remaining garlic, crushed, and thyme.

Drizzle with organic rapeseed oil. Roast for 40 minutes on the top shelf of the oven until cooked through.

When you’re almost ready to serve, place two pans with salty water on the stove, one for the asparagus and one for the beans and sugar snaps and bring them to the boil.  

The vegetables will take around 6-8 minutes to cook. When the chicken is done, place on to a serving plate to rest and keep the sweet potato wedges warm.

In a small pan, bring the chicken stock to the boil and pour in the roasting juices from the cooked chicken, along with some of the sliced onions.

Blend with a wooden spoon to create a tasty flourless gravy. Take the remaining juicy carrots, onions and lemons from the roasting tin and place around the chicken.

Pour the gravy into a jug and serve immediately with the roast chicken, sweet potatoes and green vegetables on the side. 

BEETROOT, LENTIL & HAZELNUT SALAD

Puy lentils provide a rich protein hit and are a great way to bulk out a salad like this one, which is a winning combination of flavour and crunch.

Try bulking out your salad with puy lentils, which provide a rich protein hit. Pictured, beetroot, lentil and hazelnut salad

Try bulking out your salad with puy lentils, which provide a rich protein hit. Pictured, beetroot, lentil and hazelnut salad 

Serves 4

For the salad

JANE SAYS:

This salad is the perfect accompaniment to a crisp, seared piece of salmon or tuna or trout, as its sharpness will cut through the richness of the oily fish. 

  • 250g (9oz) puy lentils
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 small ready-cooked beetroot, chopped
  • 4 spring onions, finely sliced
  • 4tbsp hazelnuts
  • 1 bunch of mint, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 100g (3½oz) watercress
  • For the ginger dressing
  • 5cm piece of ginger, very finely grated or chopped
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) olive oil 
  • 4tsp Dijon or wholegrain mustard
  • 4tbsp apple cider vinegar

Place the lentils in a pan and cover with water. Add a little sea salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until soft but still with a little bite to them.

Strain and rinse under cold running water to stop them cooking, then place in a large bowl.

Add the beetroot, spring onions, hazelnuts, mint and parsley, and stir to combine. For the dressing, whisk the ginger, oil, mustard and vinegar in a bowl until smooth, then gently mix into the salad. Finish the salad off with some peppery watercress

LIME BAKED COD WITH CHARRED BROCCOLI & NOODLES

This simple baked cod recipe is packed full of anti-inflammatory ginger, and the charred broccoli adds great flavour.

Lime backed cod with charred broccoli and noodles is packed full of anti-inflammatory ginger, and the charred broccoli adds great flavour

Lime backed cod with charred broccoli and noodles is packed full of anti-inflammatory ginger, and the charred broccoli adds great flavour

Serves 4

For the cod

  • 4 pieces of cod, 150g (5½oz) each 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-2tbsp organic cold-pressed rapeseed oil
  • Juice of 1 lime, and zest of ½ 
  • 300g (10½oz) rice noodles
  • 600g (1lb 5oz) tenderstem broccoli, cut into pieces
  • 1 large piece of ginger, cut into fine strips 
  • 5tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped 

For the dressing

  • 5tbsp soy sauce
  • 2tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2.5cm piece of ginger, grated
  • 1tbsp chopped coriander
  • Juice and zest of 1 lime
  • 1tbsp rice wine vinegar 

Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan 180°C/ gas 6. For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and set aside Place the cod onto a baking tray, season and rub with 1tbsp rapeseed oil.

Add half the lime juice and all the zest. Roast for 8-12 minutes until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily.

Meanwhile, cook the rice noodles as per the pack instructions. Heat up a frying pan until it is smoking hot.

Rub a little rapeseed oil over the broccoli stems, then place in the pan and cook until slightly charred. Stir in the ginger and give it a toss, then remove the broccoli from the pan.

Add the remaining lime juice to the pan to deglaze it, then add the noodles and cook for a minute or so.

Serve the cod and broccoli on the noodles, topped with any pan juices, the dressing and a scattering of peanuts. 

 ROAST VEGETABLE TRAY BAKE   

This ratatouille is a firm family favourite, and is bursting with veg.

Roast vegetable tray bake (pictured), which serves four

Roast vegetable tray bake (pictured), which serves four

Serves 4

  • 2 large aubergines
  • 8 vine tomatoes
  • 3 courgettes 
  • 1 butternut squash

For the sauce

  • 2tbsp coconut (or rapeseed) oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1 yellow pepper, finely diced
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • A handful of basil (around 20 leaves)
  • 1tsp fresh or dried thyme 
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping 

  • 20 basil leaves, shredded, plus extra to serve (optional)
  • 1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C/gas 5. Cut the aubergines, tomatoes, courgettes and butternut squash into 0.5cm-thick slices, and set aside.

To make the sauce, heat 1tbsp of the oil in a large pan over a medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic for 5 minutes.

Add the peppers and cook for another 6-8 minutes until soft. Add the tomatoes and slowly bring to the boil.

Stir in the basil and thyme, and season to taste. Transfer the sauce to a rectangular baking dish.

Arrange the sliced vegetables in alternating layers on top. Mix the basil and parsley with the remaining 1tbsp oil and drizzle over the vegetables. Cover the tray with foil and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes.

Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes until everything is nicely roasted. Serve as a main or side dish, topped with fresh basil, if liked.  

MIXED SEED CRACKERS, CHEESE & FROZEN GRAPES

You can reduce the fat content of cheese with a few tricks – simply cut the rind off the soft ones, and take thinner pieces using a slicer.

Mixed seed crackers, cheese and frozen grapes (pictured)

Mixed seed crackers, cheese and frozen grapes (pictured)

Serves 4-8

  • 4tbsp chia seeds
  • 50g (1¾oz) brown flaxseeds
  • 50g (1¾oz) amaranth seeds (from wholefood stores)
  • 100g (3½oz) sunflower seeds
  • 50g (1¾oz) pumpkin seeds
  • 2tbsp sesame seeds

1tsp sea salt

To serve

  • Cheeses, such as Brie and Camembert
  • Frozen grapes, celery and chutney

Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3. Place the chia, flax and amaranth seeds into a food processor and blend until roughly ground.

Now mix in the sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds and add 360ml (12¼fl oz) hot water.

Set aside and stir frequently for 20-25 minutes, until the water is absorbed, then season with sea salt.

Spread the mixture thinly (about 5mm thick) on baking paper and place on a baking tray. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden and crispy.

Leave to cool then break into squares. Serve with cheeses, grapes, celery and a nice chutney. 

HOMEMADE VEGETABLE CRISPS

You’ll never want to eat ready-made crisps ever again once you’ve tried these!

These homemade vegetables crisps (pictured) will make you stay away from ready-made ones

These homemade vegetables crisps (pictured) will make you stay away from ready-made ones

JANES SAYS 

I often freeze my grapes and take them out just as I start serving the cheese – the grapes are like little balls of sorbet. 

Serves 4

  • 200g (7oz) beetroot, scrubbed
  • 100g (3½oz) carrots, scrubbed
  • 200g (7oz) parsnips, scrubbed
  • 1tbsp coconut oil
  • 1tsp chilli powder
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • Sea salt 

Preheat the oven to 150°C/fan 130°C/gas 2. Use a mandolin, a good peeler or the thick slicer on a grater to slice the vegetables in long slices.

Keep them separate. Add a little coconut oil to each of the vegetables and season with the chilli powder and ground cumin.

Spread the vegetables out in a single layer on baking trays and bake in the oven.

The carrots and beetroot will take around 2 hours and the parsnips need 1½ hours. 

Remove them from the oven when they are dry and crisp – they will get even crispier when they have cooled down.

PANNA COTTA WITH RHUBARB & GINGER COMPOTE 

Panna cotta is so easy to make. The antioxidant-rich rhubarb and ginger compote makes this a real treat.

Panna cotta with rhubarb and ginger compote (pictured). The antioxidant-rich rhubarb and ginger compote makes this a real treat

Panna cotta with rhubarb and ginger compote (pictured). The antioxidant-rich rhubarb and ginger compote makes this a real treat

Serves 4

For the panna cotta

  • 1 gelatine leaf
  • 500ml double cream
  • 50g (1¾oz) honey
  • 25ml (¾fl oz) rum
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half and deseeded 

For the compote

  • 750g (1lb 10oz) rhubarb, finely
  • chopped (you can use tinned or frozen if its not in season) 
  • 50g (1¾oz) grated ginger
  • 80g (2¾oz) maple syrup

Soak the gelatine leaf in cold water. Place the other ingredients for the panna cotta in a pan and heat up slowly (don’t boil). Squeeze the water out of the gelatine and add to the pan. Remove the vanilla pod. 

Spoon into serving glasses. Chill for 2-4 hours. Place the compote ingredients in a pan and heat gently until thickened. Chill and serve as topping for the panna cotta.

 PITTA FRIES WITH AVOCADO & TOMATO SALSA  

Avocado and rapeseed oils combined with the antioxidant lycopene in tomatoes help provide the perfect healthy snack.

Pitta fries with avocado and tomato salsa (pictured)

Pitta fries with avocado and tomato salsa (pictured)

Serves 4 

  • 3 large ripe avocados, finely diced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 50ml (2fl oz) organic coldpressed rapeseed oil
  • 1tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 300g (10½oz) cherry tomatoes finely diced
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

To serve

  • 4 large or 8 small wholewheat pitta breads, cut into fingers

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and season to your own liking.

Place the pitta bread on a baking tray and drizzle some extra rapeseed oil on top, season with salt and pepper.

Bake for around 15 minutes, until crispy. Serve the warm pitta fries with the avocado salsa. 

PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN CAKE

Pineapples contain an anti inflammatory called bromelain. You can take it in supplement form, but why not enjoy a slice of cake instead?

Pineapple upside down cake (pictured). Pineapples contain an anti inflammatory called bromelain

Pineapple upside down cake (pictured). Pineapples contain an anti inflammatory called bromelain

Serves 8

For the base

  • l 80g (3oz) butter
  • l 100g (3½oz) light brown sugar
  • l 5 pineapple rings from a tin,
  • drained and juice reserved
  • l 5 maraschino cherries

For the cake

  • 240g (8¾oz) wholewheat flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 4tsp baking powder
  • 100g (3½oz) granulated sugar
  • 220g (8oz) Greek yoghurt, plus extra to serve
  • 180ml (6¼fl oz) milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2tsp vanilla extract 

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. To make the cake, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and granulated sugar in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the yoghurt, milk, egg, vanilla extract and 50ml of the reserved pineapple juice. Stir until smooth.

Add to the dry ingredients and combine to a smooth batter. To make the base, melt the butter in a 25cm diameter cast iron or ovenproof pan.

Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly across the pan. Wait until the sugar melts, then take the pan off the heat.

Arrange the pineapple slices in the pan and place a cherry in every hole. Carefully pour the cake batter over the pineapple.

Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes. The cake is cooked if you can insert and remove a wooden stick without any batter sticking to it.

Turn the cake onto a plate while still warm and enjoy immediately with Greek yoghurt. 

STRAWBERRIES DIPPED IN CHOCOLATE

Strawberries and chocolate – what a fabulous combination, and high-cocoa chocolate is full of antioxidants.

Strawberries dipped in chocolate (pictured). High-cocoa chocolate is full of antioxidants

Strawberries dipped in chocolate (pictured). High-cocoa chocolate is full of antioxidants

Serves 4

  • 400g (14oz) strawberries, washed and dried
  • 200g (7oz) dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids) 

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Melt the chocolate over a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water, but ensure it doesn’t touch. Remove the bowl to a board. Take a strawberry and dip into the chocolate ¾ of the way, then place on the baking tray. Repeat with the remaining strawberries. Leave to set and enjoy as an indulgent treat. 

TEN SIMPLE RULES TO REMEMBER 

1. Ditch ‘ultraprocessed’ foods. These are made with ingredients (and additives) you wouldn’t use if you were cooking at home. 

Here in the UK the most commonly eaten ultra-processed foods are industrial-made bread, ready meals, breakfast cereals, sausages and reconstituted meat products. Biscuits, pastries, cakes, soft drinks and crisps are also ultra-processed.

2. Also drastically reduce the amount of ‘processed’ foods you eat – this is food that’s been smoked or undergone some other change.

It includes products such as bacon, smoked meat, salted and sugared nuts and tinned fruit in syrup – these should be a rare addition to a meal, rather than a staple food or snack.

3. Eat a rainbow of fresh fruit and veg and swap to wholegrains. Fresh produce is packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals, compounds that help to repair damaged cells, but different fruits and veg contain different ones and they give foods their various colours.

The wider the range of colourful fresh food you eat, the more of these you’ll absorb – I’ll explain in more detail in the Mail next week.

And swap white pasta, bread, biscuits and cakes for wholegrains which have anti-inflammatory benefits.

4. Limit your red meat intake to no more than 500g a week – that’s around three portions.

Choose unprocessed cuts and mince, rather than sausages and bacon. And cut back on saturated and animal fats.

These are linked to a greater risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain cancers and dementia.

5 Think of meat as the side dish or even the seasoning that adds extra flavour to a dish – the vegetables should be the star of your plate, so you benefit from their anti-inflammatory nutrients and fibre.

6. Swap a few of your usual daily brews with a cup of green or white tea (from health food shops).

These teas contain EGCG, a type of powerful antioxidant that studies show can reduce inflammation.

7. Eat 1 to 2 portions of oily fish a week and snack on unsalted nuts and seeds. 

This will boost your levels of omega 3 essential fatty acids, which reduce inflammation, protect the heart and improve mental health.

8. Shy away from sugar, and if you must have a sugary treat, combine it with protein or enjoy a dessert after a main meal.

Too much of the sweet stuff is associated with inflammation and risk of insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Eating sugar with protein or after a main meal will slow the release of sugar into the bloodstream to dampen the inflammatory response.

9. Choose red wine over white. Red contains polyphenols, compounds that reduce inflammatory activity. Have no more than 14 units a week.

10. Add prebiotics and probiotics to your daily diet. These boost the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, improving symptoms of inflammatory bowel conditions.

They can also improve symptoms of conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis. I’ll explain in more detail next week, but good sources of prebiotics include onions, asparagus, chickpeas and oats.  

Probiotics are found in fermented food such as sauerkraut, pickles and live yoghurt, as well as cheeses. 

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