NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A guide to managing inflammation and pain with 125+ recipes proving that you don’t need to sacrifice delicious food to eat healthfully and be pain free, from celebrity chef and The Chew co-host Michael Symon
“Michael fixed himself with irresistible recipes that just happened to be healthy. Now you can enjoy healing yourself as well.”—Mehmet Oz, MD, attending surgeon, New York–Presbyterian/Columbia University
When Michael Symon found out he had rheumatoid arthritis and external lupus, he suspected that what he ate—or didn’t eat—could make a profound difference in his levels of inflammation and how he felt. So he committed to a food “reset” on The Chew—no red meat, white flour, sugar, dairy, or alcohol.
Michael used social media to share his experiment with his fans, and was shocked by the outcome: after completing the reset, he felt amazing. He discovered that dairy, sugar, and processed flours are his food triggers, and that by avoiding them, his inflammation essentially vanished.
Michael came up with more than 125 recipes to satisfy his cravings without aggravating his body, including Ginger and Chile-Roast Chicken, dairy-free Mac and Cheese, Spaghetti Squash with Arugula Pesto, and Apple and Cherry Oat Crisp, among many others. Now, for the first time, he is sharing these recipes, as well as a guide on how to identify your food triggers and create a meal plan that works around whatever ingredient causes your discomfort so that you too can enjoy incredible food without sacrificing your health.
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About the Author
Michael Symon is cohost of Food Network's Iron Chef America and Burgers, Brew & 'Que and was a cohost on ABC's The Chew for seven years. He launched Symon Home on HSN in early 2018 and is chef and co-owner of the acclaimed restaurants Lola and Mabel's BBQ, both in Cleveland, Ohio, as well as of a new Mabel's BBQ in Las Vegas; the BSpot burger restaurants throughout Ohio and in Detroit, Michigan; and Roast in Detroit. This is his sixth cookbook.
Read an Excerpt
Hi, I’m Michael Symon and I’ve been cooking professionally for more than thirty years. I know, I can’t believe it either sometimes. One year after Liz and I opened our first restaurant, Lola in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland, I was named a Best New Chef by Food & Wine magazine. The rest, as they say, is history.
Over the years we’ve opened restaurants in Cleveland, Detroit, Atlantic City, and Las Vegas, where we recently debuted Mabel’s BBQ at the renovated Palms Casino Resort. I’ve hosted or appeared on countless Food Network and Cooking Channel shows like The Next Iron Chef, which I won to become, well, the next Iron Chef; Burgers, Brew & ’Que; and Cook Like an Iron Chef, to name a few. For seven years, I was a cohost of The Chew, the popular daytime foodthemed talk show.
It was my personal experiences on The Chew, in fact, that inspired me to write this book. I suffer from two chronic autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and discoid lupus, an external form of the disease that affects the skin. I’ve always suffered a lot of joint pain—high school wrestling and thirty years on your feet in restaurant kitchens will do that to you—but it’s progressively gotten worse with age. The periods between flareups has decreased, and the levels of pain and discomfort have increased. It was time to do something about it.
On The Chew, as one of my New Year’s resolutions, I decided to experiment with what I now call The Reset (page 12). I used to assume that my aches and pains were simply the result of a cocktail of sports injuries, a strenuous occupation, and age (I’m not getting any younger!). Later, after I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and external lupus, I resigned myself to the fact that pain (and pain pills) would be a regular part of my life. But after I committed to doing The Reset on The Chew, I learned that by eating the right foods and avoiding the wrong ones, I could completely change the way I live, cook, eat, and feel.
I knew that common ingredients like sugar, flour, dairy, and red meat were often blamed for causing inflammation and the pain that comes with it, but I also recognize that everybody is different. What affects you negatively might not bother me. It’s probably not surprising to learn that feeling good starts with eating a healthy and varied diet that’s loaded with fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants that strengthen the immune system. Nuts and avocados are high in monounsaturated fats (the good fats), which also counter inflammation. Beans have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. And the omega-3 fatty acids found in certain types of fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are great at fighting inflammation. On the other side of the coin, it is essential that you avoid chemically processed foods like cookies, chips, jarred sauces, deli meats, and many sandwich breads. Most are chock-full of added sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats, not to mention artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives. It’s so important to always read the nutrition label on foods to see what ingredients are listed so that you can avoid the unhealthy ones. Alcohol also can cause inflammation for some people, especially when consuming beverages with high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates. It’s up to you to decide how alcoholic beverages affect you personally, but I think at least during The Reset, it makes sense to abstain.
I wanted to dig deeper into the root causes of my inflammation to determine specifically which foods or types of food triggered painful flare-ups that could last for days. For twenty days, I followed a strict diet that avoided all foods commonly associated with inflammation (which is the source of pain) to see if what I eat—and don’t eat—might affect how I feel. I was astonished to discover that by the fourth or fifth day, most of my joint pain had subsided, the skin splotches from the lupus had vanished, and I was feeling less fatigued. By the end of ten days, the improvement was dramatic. And after twenty days, I felt like a teenager again! (Okay, that might be an exaggeration.) At the end of the process I introduced an ingredient like sugar, flour, dairy, or red meat for two days to see how it affected my body. By focusing on just one potential trigger at a time, I could isolate the results and have confidence that my reactions were or were not the result of that food. I did this for each ingredient, paying close attention to my condition during each experiment. Then, I devised a food-based plan that would help me eat around my personal triggers.
Throughout my seven years on The Chew, I had never received as much positive feedback as I did while completing this exercise. Through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and email, people would reach out to share their own personal results and to request more and more recipes. It was incredibly refreshing to learn that people not only were cooking the recipes and enjoying them, but that they were also finding success in eating this way and feeling better because of them. It was then that I decided to begin this cookbook project.
This book is not intended to be used as a bible. It’s a guide to help you figure out which foods trigger inflammation and cause pain and then provide delicious recipes that steer clear of those triggers. Nobody’s perfect, most of all me. I know that I’m not always going to avoid detrimental foods like that bowl of ice cream on a hot summer day, or a crock of creamy mac and cheese in winter (or that second glass of bourbon!). But knowing what foods cause issues—and having at your disposal a selection of delicious recipes that avoid those triggers—puts me (and you) in control and offers the best opportunity to live pain-free while still eating well.