Food For Thought: December Anti-inflammatory Recipes

Food For Thought: December Anti-inflammatory Recipes

Over the festive season, it can be tempting to over indulge in the delicious food on offer. An anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t mean you need to miss out. Try some of our December recipes and discover how a few small adjustments can lead to food equally as tasty as the traditional versions without resulting in excess inflammation.


December Breakfast Recipe – Sweet Potato Muffins

These delicious muffins are a great way to incorporate anti-inflammatory ingredients to your diet, helping to control inflammation and limiting flares. As they can be prepared in advance, they’re great on busy days as a quick breakfast or snack instead of reaching for an unhealthy alternative.

Sweet potatoes are good choice for an anti-inflammatory diet because they are high in vitamins C and E. They also contain carotenoid pigments – alpha and beta carotene, both of which reduce inflammation. Turmeric contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric. Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Cardamom has some anti-inflammatory properties that limit pain and swelling, especially in mucus membranes, the mouth, and throat. It is high in gingerol, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Coconut milk is full of healthy fats and contains lauric acid, antimicrobial lipids and capric acid, which have antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties. Cinnamon is the most well-loved spice in baking. Studies have shown that the spice has anti-inflammatory properties, which can ease swelling.



  • 1 cup sweet potato puree (made from cooked sweet potato removed from skin and blended)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4tsp sea salt
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger/cardamom (depending on preference)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric/saffron (depending on preference)
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 2-4Tbsp coconut or almond milk



  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Grease or line a muffin pan.
  2. Allow potato to cool, and then cut in half and scoop out the insides into a large bowl, blend until smooth. Add sweet potato puree, egg, coconut milk, coconut oil, and maple syrup. Combine until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients, then add these to the sweet potato mixture and stir until fully combined.
  4. Grease your muffin pan, then pour the batter evenly into the pan so that each one is approximately 2/3 full.
  5. Cook for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.



December Lunch Recipe – Christmas Mince Pies

A true Christmas favorite tweaked to suit an anti-inflammatory diet. The old adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” holds true. Research suggests that eating apple on a daily basis might lower levels of cholesterol as well as C-reactive protein (CRP), a key marker of inflammation in the blood. Cranberries are high in antioxidants as well as anthocyanins, which give cranberries their deep red color and have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that cinnamon and its antioxidants have potent anti-inflammatory properties, helping to lower your risk of a disease and excessive inflammation. Ginger is high in gingerol, a substance with good anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Nutmeg is rich in anti-inflammatory compounds called monoterpenes, including sabinene, terpineol, and pinene. As someone following an anti-inflammatory diet refined and processed grains such as white flour should be avoided as they promote inflammation. Substituting with whole grain/whole meal can go a long way to improving inflammation. Whole grains are high in fiber and loaded with antioxidants.



Fruit mince:

  • 2-3 naturally sweet apples, finely diced with the skin left on
  • 1 cup of pitted chopped dates
  • ½ cup of cranberries
  • ½ tsp. of ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp. of ground cardamom
  • ½ tsp. of ground nutmeg
  • Zest from ½ an orange
  • 1 cup of cranberry, raspberry or apple juice
  • ½ tsp. of vanilla extract

Wholemeal spelt short crust:

  • 1¼ cups of whole wheat flour (substitute with spelt flour, rice, barley, amaranth and kamut flour for low/no gluten alternatives).
  • 1 cup of butter (unsalted) and chilled
  • 2 tbsp. of maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 1-2 tbsp. of water to mix, if required



Fruit mince:

  1. Combine apples, dates and cranberries in a pot.
  2. Add the juice of your choice and the spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom), vanilla extract and the zest from the orange.
  3. Cover and simmer on a low heat for approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Stir frequently to ensure it does not boil.
  5. If the fruit mince becomes too dry, add more juice to moisten and simmer on a low heat for another 30 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat, and allow the mixture to cool.

Wholewheat flour short crust:

  1. Combine flour, maple syrup, and sea salt in a large bowl.
  2. Cut butter into cubes and rub it into the flour with your fingertips. The mixture should look crumbly.
  3. Add vanilla extract, a little water and mix into a soft dough. Place in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
  4. After an hour you can roll out the dough on baking paper and cut into circles using a cutter. Lightly coat with coconut oil and dust with flour to prevent sticking – place in tart trays for cooking.
  5. Add fruit mince – approx. 1 tbsp. per tart. Roll out the remainder of pastry and cut into star or snowflake or other festive shapes. Place on top of tarts and add a little maple syrup brushed on top.
  6. Place in preheated oven (180 C) for 30 minutes until golden. Leave to cool before removing them from the tray to prevent breakage. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

(This recipe makes approximately 12 pies).



December Dinner Recipe – Pesto Coconut Butternut Squash Soup

This dish is perfect for the cooler weather months. A comforting heartwarming soup with a small kick of cayenne pepper for a little added heat. Butternut squash is an abundant source of powerful antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene. Antioxidants help prevent or slow cellular damage and reduce inflammation, which may reduce your risk of several chronic diseases. Coconuts and their milk contain a lipid called lauric acid, and many researchers believe that lauric acid can support the immune system. Some findings indicate that lauric acid has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that cinnamon and its antioxidants have potent anti-inflammatory properties. The antioxidants in cinnamon have anti-inflammatory effects, which may help lower your risk of disease. Cayenne and other hot chili peppers have been praised for their health benefits since ancient times. All chili peppers contain natural compounds called capsaicinoids. These are what give the spicy fruit its anti-inflammatory properties. The powerful essential oils found in basil leaves, including eugenol, citronellol and linalool, help lower inflammation through their enzyme inhibiting properties. The anti-inflammatory properties of basil may help lower risk of heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel conditions.



  • 2.2 pounds of diced butternut squash
  • 1 ¾ cups reduced fat coconut milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 Bay leaves (fresh or dried)
  • Salt to taste
  • Soft feta cheese
  • ½ tsp basil pesto/bowl



  1. Microwave the diced butternut squash for 15-20 min until soft (simplify this by cutting a small corner open and microwave in the bag)
  2. On a low to medium heat add the coconut milk, cinnamon, cayenne pepper (more can be added if you enjoy spicier food) and bay leaves stirring occasionally for 5 minutes
  3. Remove the bay leaves placing them on a plate to be re-added
  4. Add the soft butternut squash, leave on a low boil stirring occasionally for 10 minutes
  5. Use a hand blender and blend until smooth
  6. Add salt to taste and put the bay leaves back
  7. Leave on a low heat for another 5 minutes
  8. Remove the bay leaves before serving
  9. Dish out 4-6 bowls of soup, add ½ teaspoon of basil pesto to each bowl and crumble feta cheese on top

Serve with your favorite whole grain, gluten-free, or multi-seed bread





December Dessert Recipe – Christmas Trifle

Following an anti-inflammatory diet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your Christmas favorite, it’s all about making the right substitutions so it works for you. Here we embrace a traditional trifle and show you how to make it fit your diet. Gelatin tannate exerts anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting specific pro-inflammatory cytokines and adhesion molecules involved in several inflammatory disorders. The collagen in gelatin may decrease joint pain associated with inflammation. According to the National Library of Medicine, some clinical studies indicate gelatin may reduce pain and improve joint function in people with osteoarthritis. The type of saturated fat in coconut flour is called a medium-chain triglyceride which may provide some health benefits including supporting healthy cholesterol, anti-inflammatory benefits and may play a part in helping to manage weight. Honey is well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capacities, which may be useful for the prevention of chronic inflammatory process like atherosclerosis, diabetes mellitus and cardiovascular diseases. Cocoa flavanols have strong anti-inflammatory properties, cocoa consumption may contribute to the prevention or treatment of diseases mediated by chronic inflammation.



  • 2 cups blanched almond meal
  • 1 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 100 g (3 1/2 oz.) coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. baking powder (gluten free)
  • 1 tsp. 100% vanilla extract


  • 2 cups brewed berry tea (raspberry, cranberry, black current, blueberry) or an alternative fruit flavored tea (lime, orange, plum) you would enjoy as a jelly
  • 5 tbs. Gelatin
  • 1 tbs. honey (optional)


  • 1 cup coconut milk (canned)
  • 1 cup raw cashews (soaked overnight in water, then drained works best)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup honey


  • Fresh berries
  • Coconut flakes



  1. Start by preparing the cake. Preheat oven to 355°F and line an 8-inch springform cake tin with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl combine the almond meal, coconut flour and baking powder.
  3. In a stand mixer or with a blender, combine the coconut oil and rice malt syrup.
  4. Add the eggs, vanilla, coconut milk and mix well. It may have a curdled appearance; this is nothing to be concerned over.
  5. Pour this into the large bowl with the dry ingredients and gently mix together.
  6. Transfer into the lined tin and bake for 40 minutes or until lightly brown.
  7. Allow to cool completely.
  8. Make the jelly while the cake is baking.
  9. In a small sauce pan combine the tea and rice malt syrup.
  10. Sprinkle over the gelatin and mix together.
  11. Allow to stand for 5 minutes.
  12. Place the sauce pan onto medium heat and continuously stir for 5 minutes until smooth.
  13. Pour the mix into a 20 cm (8 inch) square large silicone mold or lined slice tin.
  14. Place in to the freezer for 20 minutes or until set.
  15. While the jelly sets, slice your berries and start on the chocolate cream.
  16. The cream is simply a case of blending the ingredients together until smooth.
  17. Layer in a container or glass of your choosing.
Article Author
Arthritis National Research Foundation

The Arthritis National Research Foundation's mission is to provide initial research funding to brilliant, investigative scientists with new ideas to cure arthritis and related autoimmune diseases. Writing articles about the patients affected and the science being done to find a cure shows why we need to come together to #CureArthritis!

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