This is a guest post by Ivy Larson with Clean Cuisine.
Hi everyone! My name is Ivy Larson with Clean Cuisine. I am a mom to an 18-year old son and author of four nutrition books. I am so grateful to Lisa for having me share my clean meatloaf recipe from my newest book (just released!), Clean Cuisine Cookbook. In addition to sharing the recipe, I also wanted to briefly touch on my story of how I have used anti-inflammatory real food as medicine to manage my multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms for over twenty years now.
Anti-Inflammatory Real Rood Can Be Good for Many!
I know the vast majority of 100 Days of Real Food readers probably do not have MS (thank goodness!), so I didn’t want to make the focus of this blog post all about MS. Having said that, if you happen to have an autoimmune disease or any type of inflammatory disease (including eczema, fibromyalgia, asthma, arthritis, heart disease, etc.), the recommendations here, and in the Clean Cuisine Cookbook, will absolutely be relevant to you and your family.
How I Used Real Food as Medicine to Manage the Symptoms of MS
I was diagnosed with MS, the most common disabling neurologic disease of young people, in 1998 when I was just 22-years old. I was very lucky that my neurologist at the University of Miami suggested that an anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle could help slow the progression of the disease because hearing that gave me tremendous hope. I was wearing a catheter and barely able to walk up the stairs at the time, but my neurologist told me that changing my diet, taking certain supplements, exercising moderately, and managing stress could all potentially slow the progression of my disease. It was the first time I had heard of an “anti-inflammatory lifestyle”.
I have to admit, it was initially a bit of a stretch to wrap my head around the idea that simple lifestyle changes could, in fact, slow the progression of a disease that often leaves people unable to walk. Along with my now-husband, Andy Larson, M.D. (whom I met in school when I was just 13 years old!), I researched and adopted a holistic lifestyle approach to treating my MS right from the beginning. I modified my diet and lifestyle almost immediately. Although we cannot definitively prove it, we believe the anti-inflammatory diet and lifestyle I follow is the reason I have never needed to take any of the disease-modifying MS medications in the twenty years since my diagnosis.
Clean Cuisine Defined
Clean eating means different things to different people. Our definition of what it means to eat clean is simple…
Clean Cuisine Defined: Clean Cuisine is a plant-rich diet based on a wide variety of anti-inflammatory whole foods in their most natural and nutrient-rich state.
Clean Cuisine is designed to do 3 things:
- Reduce systemic (whole-body) inflammation
- Optimize nutrition
- Support a healthy gut microbiome
No Fad Diets
It’s important to point out that the anti-inflammatory diet I follow does not fit into any of the popular diet categories (such as vegan, paleo, keto, low-carb, etc.), and it’s not influenced whatsoever by food politics. Because my health condition was so severe, my husband and I did not trust “diet” books or trendy women’s magazines for nutrition advice when we started our research—we went straight to medical journals.
Because we chose not to be influenced by fad diets, we started with a blank slate that allowed us to create an anti-inflammatory lifestyle that was influenced only by human-based research studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals. Coincidentally, a just-published study in The Lancet attributes 11 million deaths and 255 million disability-adjusted life years to 14 dietary risk factors that are specifically addressed with the Clean Cuisine way of eating.
The results of the study showed diets high in sodium, sweetened beverages, trans fats, processed meats, and red meat and diets low in legumes, polyunsaturated fats, fruits, vegetables, fiber, omega-3’s, nuts, whole grains, and calcium are risk factors for early death and premature disease. These are all elements integral to the Clean Cuisine approach.
The Mediterranean Diet & Clean Cuisine
Of all the popular diets, Clean Cuisine leans closest to the Mediterranean diet. However, if you look at the anti-inflammatory food pyramid (below), from page 21 of our Clean Cuisine Cookbook, you’ll notice some definite differences.
For example, Clean Cuisine does not use canola oil or any type of refined flour or sugar. We also place a much greater emphasis on fruits and vegetables, which form the base of our pyramid. In addition, we omit milk, but do allow for small amounts of high quality, naturally fermented cheese as a “treat.”
Moreover, we specifically incorporate as many anti-inflammatory “superfoods” as possible, such as hemp seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, acai, cacao, seaweed, etc.
Every recipe in the Clean Cuisine Cookbook is a cleaned-up version of a classic favorite (such as mac and cheese, lasagna, potato salad, etc.), and every recipe works in one of the following three foods:
Every recipe is also gluten-free and dairy-free.
The Anti-Inflammatory Clean Cuisine Food Pyramid
Let’s Get Cooking! How to Make a Clean Meatloaf Recipe…
Who doesn’t love a good meatloaf? It’s the ultimate comfort food! This clean Meatloaf recipe appears on page 182 of the Clean Cuisine Cookbook. The recipe is both gluten-free and dairy-free, with no refined sugar. It uses pasture-raised meat, sneaks in LOTS of vegetables, and offers a full serving of whole grains, too! Best of all, nobody will know it’s a “clean” version unless you tell them so!
Here’s an example of how I turned conventional meatloaf into a clean meatloaf recipe with hidden vegetables below:
- Use pasture-raised ground beef (you can also substitute pasture-raised turkey or lamb)
- Add in A LOT of vegetables—4 1/2 cups worth!
- Use homemade ketchup made without refined sugar
- Add in whole grains
- Swap a nutrient-dense/anti-inflammatory plant milk for cow’s milk
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