What is inflammation? Is it bad for you? How can you stop inflammation? See more at my "What Is" series on Chop Chop Chew.

What is Inflammation?

I feel like every time I log into Pinterest, there’s something on the homepage like “Foods to Fight Inflammation,” or “Ways to Heal Gut Inflammation,” (as a side note, the word “gut” tends to really gross me out). What is inflammation, exactly?

Your body’s response to its environment

Think of inflammation as swelling. As Paleo Leap puts it, it’s “your immune system essentially rushing help to the area to fight any viruses or bacteria.” Your body can have this swelling reaction to anything from allergies to food to just plain stress.

Is inflammation bad for you?

Yes and no. Inflammation is what helps your body heal itself of colds, cuts, and infections. But if your body is putting out more inflammation than it needs, it can cause symptoms like upset stomach, muscle pain, fatigue, and weight gain. Autoimmune diseases like lupus or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis are often associated with increased inflammation.

What do you do with a problem like inflammation?

It depends on the cause. Things like keeping hydrated and taking turmeric tend to help (again, I am not a doctor, but those things help me). Reducing stress and whatever environmental factors are causing inflammation are huge, but there are certain foods that are claimed to intensify immune reactions. Milk, sugar, and wheat top the list.

Recipes for sweet potatoes - yum! Find more ways to eat and prepare sweet potatoes.

5 Ways to Eat Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are so good for you! They are packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, and a ton of other minerals. Although I normally try to follow a pretty low-carb diet, I have to say that sweet potatoes are one of my favorite foods, and a go-to for non-grain carbohydrates. How do you get more of the orange spuds in your diet?


(Sweet potato fries are NOT on this list because, personally, I find them a little annoying to make and get right.)


1. Baked Sweets

Usually once a week, I toss a few sweet potatoes in the oven to bake. I usually poke a few holes in them with a knife, wrap them loosely in aluminum foil, and bake at 350 for an hour, or until they are super soft. Then I pop them in the fridge for the week and take with me to work as an easy, healthy side with my lunch.

2. Grilled Sweets

For this recipe, you can cube your potatoes, toss them in a mix of butter and spices (salt, pepper, cumin, go crazy!), and then divide the cubes. Wrap each batch in some aluminum foil, toss on a preheated grill, and cook for about 20-30 minutes, turning the foil pouches every 10 minutes.


3. Sweet Potato Hash Browns

This has got to be one of my all-time favorites. And so freaking easy!!! Peel the skin off your sweet potatoes, grate with the larger-side of a cheese grater, and fry with butter, salt, and pepper until they’re crispy. Serve with an egg or two!

4. Sausage and Sweet Hash

Take your baked sweet potatoes from #1, cube/cut them up, and pan fry with breakfast sausage, paprika, sage, salt and pepper. Some people might consider this a breakfast, but I could eat this all day! I use all-natural chicken or turkey sausage because Jimmy Dean grosses me out…

5. Sweet Potato Soup

Similar to a butternut squash soup, I really like to do a sweet potato soup. I use a can of coconut milk, a few cups of chicken or veggie stock, two or three (depending on size) pre-baked sweet potatoes, chopped onion, and cumin. Cook all of these things down until they get soft, and put through the food processor or blender to get it nice and creamy. Yum!


So there you have it: 5 of my favorite ways to eat sweet potatoes!


What is Gluten-Free?

This summer I’ll be doing a series of blog posts based on questions I hear frequently about food and lifestyle. It does seem like there are a lot of big words that get tossed around, like “inflammation,” “probiotics,” “MCTs,” and lots more. My goal over the next few weeks is to dig into each of those things and explain them in a way that’s easy to understand.


I thought gluten-free would be a good place to start.


What is Gluten?

The Celiac Disease Foundation tells us gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. It’s the glue that holds things like bread, pasta, and cookies together (source).  If you find out you’re gluten intolerant, this is a pretty big pill to swallow.


What else has gluten in it?

It’s a little overwhelming how many foods have gluten in them. Here are *some* of the things you can expect to have gluten in them (not an exhaustive list by any means):

  • Breads
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • Most packaged snacks and baked goods
  • Beer
  • Pasta

However, there are a few foods that you wouldn’t expect to contain wheat, rye, or barley that can be unexpected sources of gluten:

  • Soy sauce (and Chinese food)
  • Gravy (sometimes it’s thickened with flour)
  • Barbecue sauce
  • Certain chocolate bars
  • Certain wines
  • Tomato soup (this was the hardest one for me…I love tomato soup!!)


Do you really have to stop eating all of those things if you’re gluten-free?

It depends. For myself personally, I feel best when I am eating ZERO gluten. As in, no slip ups at all. Different people have different tolerances for it. If you are a Celiac, you will probably be better off cutting out all gluten, but people who are mildly intolerant may be able to handle a cookie here and there. (:


(I am not a doctor and cannot advise anyone else’s health but my own.)


Reasons for adopting a gluten free lifestyle

There are a few reasons someone might want to go gluten-free. It seems really trendy right now, but I would also argue that there are more legitimate celiacs and gluten-intolerant folks out there than there ever have been. Why would someone willingly cut gluten?

  • Celiac disease
  • Digestive issues
  • Other health issues (my reason is related to a thyroid issue that makes digesting gluten really difficult)
  • Cutting back on inflammation (my next post will be about this)
  • Trendy/seems like the “healthy” thing to do (while I don’t think everyone should cut gluten out of their diet, I’m sure people do get a great if unintended health benefit from cutting processed foods out when they cut out gluten…)


So what do I eat if I’m gluten free?

While I would advocate a simpler diet with fewer carbs and more healthy fats, plant-based foods, and a limited amount of grass-fed organic meats, I will say that there are a lot of options for the GF crowd. What a time to be alive! There are so many gluten-free pastas, snacks, and restaurants available that half the time I forget it’s even an issue. I’ll do a post in the future on my favorite GF alternatives. In the meantime, enjoy your Saturday! (:




Coming back for summer!

Well, it has been awhile since I touched this blog.

I have to say a lot has happened, health and work-wise since I last posted. I’ll explain those things in another post.

I am happy to say I will be resurrecting Chop Chop Chew this summer! I have lots of new ideas for topics that I’m really excited to share with you! Stay tuned!