“The Anti-Inflammatory Family Cookbook” Review
The brilliant physicist, Richard Feynman, once said, “If you can’t explain something in simple terms, you don’t understand it.” The authors of The Anti-Inflammatory Family Cookbook lay out complex health science in such a simple way that it quickly becomes clear that they are masters of this subject. As you dive in you find that the information seems intuitive even to non scientists like us. So, if you are looking for a combination of rigorous but easy to understand research on the impact inflammation can have on your family’s health combined with 100 tasty, easy-to-use recipes that will help ensure your family does not suffer its effects, you need to pick up a copy of The Anti-Inflammatory Family Cookbook.
The Anti-Inflammatory Family Cookbook Review
Stefania Patinella, Alexandra Romey, Hillary McClafferty, MD, FAAP, Jonathan Deutsch, PhD, and Maria Mascarenhas, MBBS
The Anti-Inflammatory Family Cookbook is, as its title suggests, focused on a whole-family approach to the clean eating lifestyle with an emphasis on kids. In fact, one of the authors, Hilary McClafferty, MD, FAAP, is board certified in pediatrics.
And, as the rest of the list of authors and their array of impressive titles suggests, this clean eating cookbook takes a bit more of a scientific approach than some others while still managing to keep the material approachable and easy to understand. Or, as the promotional material describes it, the cookbook provides, “easy-to-use, medically accurate, and child specific guidance for anti-inflammatory eating.”
The authors begin with a deep dive into both the idea of the clean eating lifestyle as well as the scientific research backing up its wisdom before getting into their 100 delicious anti inflammatory recipes. Their basic “building blocks” include focusing on plant based foods, whole foods, organic foods and minimally processed foods – * plug alert – which is the passion of our sponsor Mayi Spring Salt.
But the first 5 chapters go beyond the science and basic food standards to discuss things like the context surrounding our eating habits such as being “present” during meal times and involving our kids in the food prep process.
One section towards the beginning of this book specifically struck home for us. The section heading was: “What is the anti-inflammatory way?” and it was followed by this first sentence: “The anti-inflammatory way is not exactly a diet — at least not in the sense that conjures food deprivation.”
We found this to be a wonderful point of view when it comes to food and health. Whoever first started using the term “diet” in the modern sense probably had the best of intentions. But for too many people the word “diet” has come to mean some unusual gastronomical contortion you do for a few weeks or months and then stop. If the tenants of a diet are so great, shouldn’t they work as a standard for eating every day? And, if those tenants can’t be followed for too long without negatively impacting your well being, can they truly be considered a pathway to health?
A better philosophy for maintaining health would seem to be to have a well-informed set of healthy lifestyle standards you can live every day. Sure, there may be some factors outside of our control or special occasions where you have to make exceptions, but ideally, as they promote in this book, it is better conceptualized as a “way” rather than a “diet”.
Some specific examples of this kind of thinking in The Anti-Inflammatory Family Cookbook are their tips for expanding your children’s palate as well as for creating a weekly clean eating meal plan which includes snacks. In fact, this book has an entire chapter on clean eating snacks.
It even explains brilliant strategies such as harnessing your teen’s ever-increasing curiosity and independence to help them expand their healthy food choices on their own. And here again they are providing a “way” of approaching a complex challenge rather than dictating a laundry list of standards you and your children should be achieving. As someone with teen children I found this section to be as wise as it was useful.
That brings us to the recipes themselves. The authors say they are fans of adventurous eating and their choices show it. The recipes are simple and straight forward but, rather than letting themselves get tied down to a specific cuisine or tradition, they have chosen to take a more eclectic approach, sampling from food traditions from around the world and putting their own anti-inflammatory spin on them.
From simple healthy staples like Tomato Soup recipe to a homemade Miso Soba Bowl with a choice of toppings for your picky kids, no one is going to get bored at the table or leave unsatisfied. And they are loaded with healthy raw ingredients like ginger, cumin and plenty of organic vegetables. Although we would suggest replacing the recommended sea salt with spring salt to avoid the microplastics that have been found in most sea salts as recently documented by National Geographic.
As an added bonus many of the recipes have a section titled “Phytonutrient focus” where you can nerd out on all the healthy properties of the featured plant-based ingredients.
They wrap it up with chapters on desserts and drinks with surprisingly simple concoctions such as a Chilled Rooibos Tea that is loaded with anti-oxidants which studies have shown may reduce inflammation.
For more anti inflammatory tea ideas check out our 3 Favorite Anti Inflammatory Teas post.
Lastly, the academic backgrounds of the authors are on full display in the comprehensive References section at the back of the book. So, if you come across a topic of particular interest to your family, you will be able to pursue it in as much detail as you like. We see The Anti-Inflammatory Family Cookbook as a rock solid foundation for any family looking to take back control of their family’s health and wellness.