by Amie Valpone

During my 20s, inflammation, digestive issues, and chronic pain were my daily associates. I had no idea how to get healthy. I went to countless doctors but never got a clear diagnosis or treatment plan. Sick of getting no answers while overloading my body with medications, I turned to an integrative M.D. who started me on a journey of healing myself. I had to become my own doctor. Many of my ailments, including candida and leaky gut, were caused by inflammation from the food I was eating plus other environmental toxins. I realized that getting better had to start with what was on my plate.

Food acts as information for every cell in our body. When we eat inflammatory foods, our cells become inflamed, causing swelling, pain and other issues. Some of the most common
inflammatory foods are processed foods, vegetable oils (refined oils), gluten, dairy, corn, yeast, eggs (including mayonnaise), soy, peanuts and nightshade vegetables (including bell peppers, tomatoes, potatoes and eggplant).

Removing these foods eliminated much of my illness, and I have seen the same happen with many of my clients and readers on my website,

Anti-inflammatory foods help heal the body. Antioxidant-rich produce such as dark leafy greens and berries help our livers flush out harmful toxins. Instead of refined oils, opt for extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, which are anti-inflammatory and contain healthy fats. You can also get good fats from raw or sprouted nuts and seeds, avocado and wild salmon. Season your plate with fresh herbs and spices such as turmeric, basil, cilantro and thyme.  These have healing properties and are much healthier (and more flavorful) than processed condiments.

My recipe at right is a dairy-, soy- and gluten-free dish that’s loaded with anti-inflammatory ingredients such as basil, extra virgin olive oil, quinoa, sunflower seeds and fresh lemon juice.  Try it and you’ll see ‘Eating Clean’ can be exciting and delicious, while fighting inflammation from the inside out. 

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Sunshine Sunflower Quinoa Bowl


Serves: 4


• ½ cup quinoa

• 2 medium zucchini or summer yellow squash, thinly sliced or diced

• 1 large apple, diced

• 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh basil, parsley or cilantro, plus more if desired

• 2 Tbsp. sunflower seeds

• Juice of 2 medium lemons

• ½ tsp. honey, plus more if needed

• 2-3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

• Sea salt and pepper, to taste

• Pinch crushed red pepper flakes, optional


1. Cook quinoa according to package directions. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork, cover and set aside.

2. Meanwhile, steam the zucchini in a steamer basket over medium heat for about 5-7 minutes or until tender. 3. Add to quinoa mixture and toss to combine.
4. Add the apple, basil and sunflower seeds; toss again. 5. In a small bowl, whisk lemon juice, honey, olive oil, sea salt and pepper.  Add more honey, if needed. Drizzle dressing over quinoa mixture, and toss to combine.
6. Season to taste.


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