You are what you eat, goes the old maxim. That’s even truer when your body is in recovery mode, whether from illness, stress, a poor diet, or surgery.
I sat down with one of Los Angeles’ leading orthodontic providers and wellness experts, Dr. Mahtab Partovi, to discuss how to use healthy eating as the path to recovery and good health. Dr. Partovi explained to me that her passion for healthy eating began because she heard other orthodontists lecture patients about what they couldn’t eat after a procedure. She decided to turn the question on its head, and tell patients what they could eat.
Dr. Partovi is busting the myth that soft food equals bland food. Here are her tips for eating for recovery or for getting more plant-based deliciousness into your diet. As her family says, “Nooshe Jan” — “may your soul be nourished!”
1. Let These Fruits, Veggies, and Nuts Sound the Alarm on Inflammation
Inflammation causes pain after any kind of dental work, surgery or even braces adjustments. Inflammation can be the body’s healthy, natural response to injury, but eating too many inflammatory foods mean that your body will produce too many immune cells. Over time, chronic inflammation can lead to cancer, heart disease, arthritis and other health problems. The good news is that you can fight inflammation with foods like greens and leafy vegetables, bok choy, celery, beets, broccoli, blueberries, nuts, chia seeds, and spices like turmeric and ginger. Avoid sugar, artificial sweeteners, refined carbs (white bread, pasta, white rice), fried foods, red or processed meat, dairy, and alcohol.
2. Soup-Up Your Immune System With This Simple Detox Soup
Bring down inflammation, or just get a great pick-me-up when you’re feeling rundown from illness or stress, with a simple detox soup. Toss kale, spinach, cilantro, parsley, celery, frozen peas, grated ginger, garlic, shallots, and a little jalapeno in a pot with equal parts vegetable broth and water. Season with basil leaves, thyme, dill, turmeric, salt, and pepper and add flax seeds, chia seeds, and quinoa. Bring to a boil and then let simmer for an hour. Squeeze some lemon and you’re on the path to recovery!
3. Satisfy Your Cookie Cravings With These High-Fiber Treats!
We all crave sweets, but fortunately, fiber can provide a healthy alternative. Everyone needs it — and an astonishing 95 percent of Americans don’t get enough of this vital mineral each day. Dr. Partovi suggests snacking on easy almond psyllium cookies, which are packed with soluble and insoluble fiber to keep your digestive system happy. Mix almond butter, coconut oil, egg, vanilla, cinnamon, salt and maple syrup in a large bowl, and mix almond flour, oatmeal, psyllium husk, and flax seed in another. Add the almond flour mixture to the second one, roll the dough into balls, and bake for about 10 minutes. Then enjoy these as an after-dinner treat, an afternoon pick-me-up, or whenever your digestive tract needs a little extra love!
4. Add Bold Flavor to Your Soft Diet With Chia Seed Pudding
Protein is essential for healing but is especially difficult to consume enough of when on a very restrictive, soft diet. You can only drink so many protein shakes before getting sick of them, right? Here’s Dr. Partovi’s favorite recipe for a nutritionally-rich alternative to the sugar-laden store-bought brands that most of us stock up on post-surgery. This simple chia seed pudding is packed with protein, fiber, and Omega-3 fatty acids, making them into the healthiest snacks around. Just mix coconut milk, maple syrup and a little vanilla extract in a mason jar. Add chia seeds, top with berries, and refrigerate over time. If you want a creamier version, throw it all in the blender before refrigerating.
5. High-Sodium Veggie Burgers Are SO Yesterday With This Protein-Packed Recipe
Most pre-packaged veggie burgers have a bad rap for containing loads of sodium and lots of processed ingredients that nobody knows how to pronounce. But Dr. Partovi’s burgers are high in fiber and packed with protein-rich ingredients like legumes, peas, flax meal, and brown rice.This recipe freezes wonderfully, as well, so freeze a few patties in an airtight container and pull em’ out whenever a burger craving hits!
Heat onion, garlic, mushrooms, turmeric, cumin, salt, and pepper on the stovetop, and then add peas, celery, and carrots for five minutes. Mix rice or quinoa, gluten-free breadcrumbs, beans, chia seeds, oats, flax meal, tamari, Worcester sauce, apple cider vinegar, turmeric, cumin, salt, pepper, and ketchup into a large bowl. Add the sauteed vegetables and press the mixture together. Mix in a food processor, add eggs, and then shape the mixture into patties. Cook on the stove over medium-high heat until cooked through. Serve with spinach, tomato, pickle, and a gluten-free bun.
6. Make Dinner Green With Envy by Adding Veggies to Your Morning Shake
It’s hard to go wrong by adding more vegetables to your diet. Whip up this shake each morning to get your fill of inflammation-busting fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K, and get the day started with 2 servings of veggies.. Blend water, kale, and spinach, then add cucumber, celery, half an apple or pear, ginger and lemon juice while pulsing gently. Eat when evenly blended.