On Your Health

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Anti-Inflammatory Recipes for the Holidays

If you suffer from painful arthritis or live with an autoimmune disease, dealing with inflammation is a part of life. For people newly diagnosed with an inflammatory disease, navigating a world of inflammation triggers can be tricky, especially during the holidays.

While some of your favorite seasonal foods may be triggers, you can still enjoy a healthy season full of flavor and inflammation-fighting foods! With a little research and culinary inspiration, you can create a wonderful holiday meal.

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is actually a bodily function. As a function, it isn’t necessarily bad. For example, when you hurt yourself stubbing your toe or scrapping your knee, your body’s immune system sends a rush of white blood cells to the injured area. This causes the injured area to become swollen, red and painful as the white blood cells fight off infection. Inflammation is okay when it’s a response to an injury.

Inflammation is a more serious, painful issue when it’s a symptom of diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and gout. It causes stiffness, swelling, joint pain and even the loss of joint functions.

Those who suffer from autoimmune diseases can experience inflammation of their joints and organs. This happens when the immune system overreacts and affects an otherwise healthy part of the body. Crohn’s disease and other inflammatory bowel diseases are also associated inflammation symptoms.

So how does food cause inflammation? Sugars and fats associated with inflammation are triggers that lurk in many of the junk foods we eat. Excess sugar can cause insulin to spike. This spike can flare up inflammation. Omega-6, a fat found in vegetable oil, is known to trigger flare-ups as well. The sneaky Omega-6 is also found in grain-fed meat products.

Essentially, inflammatory foods contain an inflammation-causing component. Unfortunately, many of our indulgent favorites are on the list. 

Inflammation “Naughty List”

Fast food and treats are on the inflammation “naughty” list.

  • Sugar (soft drinks, baked goods, candy)
  • Refined starches (white bread, white pasta, starchy potatoes)
  • Saturated fats (pizza, chips, fried foods, red meat, processed meat)
  • Hydrogenated oils (fried foods, non-dairy coffee creamers)
  • Trans fats (baked goods, margarine, mayonnaise)
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Alcohol (more than one serving)

Inflammation “Nice List”

Other foods are great for an anti-inflammation diet.

  • Olive oil
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Beets
  • Whole grains
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Dark chocolate
  • Chia seeds
  • Yogurt
  • Apples
  • Salmon
  • Bone broth
  • Tomatoes
  • Spinach
  • Nuts

Anti-inflammatory Holiday Recipe Inspiration

These easy, inflammation-friendly recipes will delight your dinner guests this winter.

Ginger Glazed Salmon


  • 1 pound salmon fillets
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh, ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Sliced green onion (optional)
  • Sesame seeds (optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cover a large baking pan with foil. Lightly brush the foil with olive oil or cooking spray.
  3. Place salmon skin-side down on the foil-lined pan.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, honey and olive oil.
  5. With a sauce brush, spread the mixture evenly over the fillets. Season with pepper if desired.
  6. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes.
  7. Garnish with sesame seeds and green onion if desired.

Crisp Balsamic Green Beans with Slivered Almonds


  • 1 pound cleaned green beans
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons slivered almonds


  1. Place green beans in a large skillet with about a half cup of water. Cover with a lid and turn the burner to medium-high heat. Allow green beans to steam for two to four minutes. Remove lid and reduce heat to medium.
  2. Add olive oil and sauté for about one minute.
  3. Add balsamic vinegar and continue to sauté. Add in slivered almonds just before your desired doneness is reached. Remove from heat and serve.

Cinnamon Baked Apples


  • 5 cups skinned and sliced apples
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 cup vegan butter


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine apple slices in a large mixing bowl with one teaspoon of cinnamon, ginger, vanilla and lemon juice until well combined. Place in a 9x9 inch baking dish.
  3. In another bowl, combine oats, almond flour, one tablespoon cinnamon and honey into a mixture. Sprinkle on top of the apples.
  4. Cut the vegan butter into pea-sized pieces. Drop evenly over the apples and crisp topping.
  5. Bake crisp for 35 minutes or until the apple mixture is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.

Stuck in a recipe rut? Browse Pinterest and follow anti-inflammatory food bloggers for more inspiration!

INTEGRIS Resources

If you suspect you’re suffering from an inflammatory disease, meet with your primary care physician for a diagnoses or referral. For more healthy eating tips, check out On Your Health blogs on nutrition and recipes!

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