Experiencing The ‘Anti-Inflammation’ Diet

The Healthy Foodie

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Alexis Bechman, the Roundup’s court, crime and cops reporter, has an interest in healthy food — she’s even decided to grow her own kombucha (a fermented tea touted for medicinal properties). Not my cup of tea, but if that works for her, I’m all for whatever makes one feel healthy.

“My boyfriend and have been to the Andrew Weil restaurant, I bet you’d like it too,” she said to me. She knew I’d been quoting from the University of Arizona professor of medicine’s research and writings that seek the overlap between modern medicine and a holistic diet and lifestyle approach to health.

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As she described the freshly squeezed juices, robust salads and healthy mixes of foods, I drooled.

Magically, one day we had the chance to go. Dr. Weil’s True Food Kitchen restaurant bases its menu on the anti-inflammation diet described in his book, “Healthy Aging.”

“First, I should explain that the anti-inflammatory diet is designed primarily to reduce the risks of age-related disease and optimize health, and is not a diet specifically for weight loss,” he said.

He cited research showing that chronic inflammation lies behind numerous serious diseases: heart disease, many cancers, and even Alzheimer’s disease.

Weil created the anti-inflammation diet as a way of life, not an intermittent weight loss tool. His restaurant has a cookbook to help make this way of eating possible everyday — “True Food, Seasonal, Sustainable, Simple and Pure ...”

He has his own anti-inflammation food pyramid, which helps people achieve the right balance in their diet — with the most important foods on the bottom and the rare treats at the top. At the bottom of the triangle, Weil has vegetables and fruit — as organic as possible.

Then he has beans, legumes and pasta, whole and cracked grains. He mixes up the pyramid to have healthy fats then fish and seafood, then whole soy foods and above that cooked Asian mushrooms.

Interesting. Not the typical food pyramid. At the top of the list, Weil has lean meats, cheeses, wine and even dark chocolate.

Sounds like a pyramid I’d climb.

(To see the pyramid go to: http://www.drweil .com/drw/u/ART02995/Dr-Weil-Anti-Inflammatory-Food-Pyramid.html)

So with much anticipation, we found ourselves at the True Food restaurant in the Biltmore shopping center. I was stunned to notice that a line snaked out the door.

“This place always has a wait,” said Alexis as she gave the maître de her cell phone number for a table notification.

I thought for sure the Zinburger and a Blanco Tacos and Tequila would have had more people waiting, but they had tons of empty tables.

A quick glance at the reviews on Yelp for True Food show foodies from all over the world enjoy the True Food restaurant.

Most rave about the Tuscan Kale salad, while others love the grass fed beef in Street Tacos. From vegetarians and vegans to meat and beer lovers, people enjoy the experience and all say they feel better after eating at True Food.

For me, it was so worth the wait.

The waitress was chipper and very knowledgeable.

Always struggling with her desire to try it all, Alexis was thrilled to discover the restaurant split orders. So, she promptly ordered two of the salads she’s wanted to try.

We split the artichoke, asparagus pizza special of the day (gluten-free) and I got the strawberry and goat cheese salad special of the day.

Despite the amount of food, I did not feel bloated or overstuffed at the end of the meal. In fact, I felt clean and nourished.

Alexis ate every bite, but neither of us had room for dessert, which Yelp reviews said is a must-have. Oh well, next time — and, I’ve purchased the cookbook.

True Food Kitchen’s Famous Tuscan Kale Salad

4-6 cups kale, loosely packed, sliced leaves of Italian black (Lacinato, “dinosaur,” cavolo nero— or kale from the store), midribs removed

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

juice of one lemon

2 cloves garlic, mashed

salt and pepper, to taste

hot red pepper flakes, to taste

2/3 cup Pecorino Toscano cheese (or Rosselino variety if you can find it) or other flavorful grating cheese such as Asiago or Parmesan

1/2 cup freshly made bread crumbs from lightly toasted bread

Whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and a generous pinch (or more to taste) of hot red pepper flakes.

Pour over kale in serving bowl and toss well.

Add 2/3 of the cheese and toss again.

Let kale sit for at least 5 minutes. Add breadcrumbs, toss again, and top with remaining cheese.

Recipe from www.drweil.com

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