APM Blog

Recipes That Fight Pain Featuring Cherries, Coffee, Fish & More

17 Nov

The start of the New Year is a great time to make changes to lifestyle habits such as diet and exercise – both of which play a significant role in our ability to manage pain. Being overweight or obese adds stress on joints, as they must carry a greater load. Managing weight, eating a healthy diet and exercising all contribute to pain reduction.

After the holiday season, it may seem like a difficult task to get back on track with healthful eating. Changing our diet can be as simple as taking a look at what is currently in your kitchen and identifying healthy foods that will help fight inflammation, block pain signals and help heal underlying disease.

“Eating more fruits and vegetables alone will not alleviate your pain,” says Advanced Pain Management (APM) physician Michael Jung. “But if you commit to a healthy eating plan that includes less processed foods and more fresh foods, you will likely see positive results.”

We’ve identified six easy-to-find foods that are known to help ease pain. In moderation, these recipes fit into a healthy diet so you can kickoff your New Year’s resolutions with a delicious start. Cheers to a happy, healthy 2015!

describe the imageCherries:

Cherries’ high amounts of antioxidants are the foundation to their pain-fighting power. These antioxidants block inflammation much the same way that an aspirin or other NSAIDS would. In a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, participants who ate 45 Bing cherries a day for 28 days reduced their inflammation levels significantly.

Curried Chicken Salad With Cherries, Mango and Pecans

3 tablespoons light mayonnaise

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

2 cups cubed cooked chicken

1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and sliced

1 small ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced

1/4 small red onion, diced

2 tablespoons minced cilantro


Freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup chopped roasted pecans


In a large bowl, mix the mayonnaise and the curry powder.

Fold in the chicken, cherries, mango, onion and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with the pecans and serve.

Link to recipe: http://www.aarp.org/food/diet-nutrition/info-03-2011/pain-fighting-foods.5.html


describe the imageCoffee:

Many over the counter cold and headache medicines contain caffeine for a reason – its known pain-lowering powers. If you are not a regular coffee drinker, you may see some benefit from drinking a cup or two when pain strikes as caffeine helps narrow the dilated blood vessels that often cause headache pain. However, too much caffeine can exacerbate pain.

One-Bowl Chocolate Cake

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour, (see Ingredient Note)

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup nonfat buttermilk, (see Tip)

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 large egg, lightly beaten

2 tablespoons canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup hot strong black coffee

Confectioners' sugar, for dusting


Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray. Line the pan with a circle of wax paper.

Whisk flour, granulated sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Add buttermilk, brown sugar, egg, oil and vanilla. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add hot coffee and beat to blend. (The batter will be quite thin.) Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from the pan, peel off the wax paper and let cool completely. Dust the top with confectioners’ sugar before slicing.

Link to recipe: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/one_bowl_chocolate_cake.html


describe the imageGinger:

Historically used as a digestive aid, anti-nausea and sea-sickness remedy; ginger is also an effective painkiller. Almost two-thirds of patients with chronic knee pain reported less soreness upon standing after taking a ginger extract, according to a six-week study from the University of Miami. Much like the cherry, ginger can be beneficial in reducing inflammation , particularly offering relief from migraines, muscle pain and arthritis.

Roasted Winter Vegetables with a Maple-Ginger Glaze

1/2 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into 2x1/2-inch sticks

1/2 lb. carrots (about 3 or 4), peeled and cut into 2x1/2-inch sticks

1/2 lb. turnips (about 2 medium or 1 large), peeled and cut into thin wedges

1/2 lb. Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed and any wilted leaves pulled off; large sprouts halved

2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into very thin matchsticks (about 1/3 cup)

3 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1-1/2 Tbs. pure maple syrup


Heat the oven to 425ºF.

Spread the vegetables and the ginger matchsticks in a large, low-sided roasting pan or a heavy rimmed baking sheet.

Drizzle with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly coat the vegetables and spread them so that they're just one layer deep.

Roast the vegetables, tossing a couple of times, until tender and golden brown in spots, about 30 minutes.

Combine the grated ginger and maple syrup. 

Drizzle the vegetables with the maple-ginger mixture, toss, and roast for another 5 minutes. The vegetables should be very tender and browned in spots.

Serve warm.

Link to recipe: http://www.finecooking.com/recipes/ginger_roasted_winter_vegetables.aspx



Fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that not only help keep your heart in top shape, but may also reduce the pain and inflammation of arthritis, migraines and neck and back pain. Omega-3s help improve blood flow by reducing inflammation in blood vessels and nerves. A study published in Pain, the Journal of the International Association for the Study of Pain, suggests that omega-3s provide benefit as an alternative therapy for joint pain and inflammation.  

Aim for two to four meals a week of fatty fish such as salmon, Atlantic mackerel, sardines, or trout — all top omega-3 sources. Halibut, light tuna, snapper, and striped bass are good, too.

Black Bean & Salmon Tostades

8 6-inch corn tortillas

Canola oil cooking spray

1 6- to 7-ounce can boneless, skinless wild Alaskan salmon, drained

1 avocado, diced

2 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeños, plus 2 tablespoons pickling juice from the jar, divided

2 cups coleslaw mix (see Tip) or shredded cabbage

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed

3 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons prepared salsa

2 scallions, chopped

Lime wedges (optional)


Position racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven; preheat to 375°F.

Coat tortillas on both sides with cooking spray. Place on 2 baking sheets. Bake, turning once, until light brown, 12 to 14 minutes.

Combine salmon, avocado and jalapeños in a bowl. Combine cabbage, cilantro and the pickling juice in another bowl. Process black beans, sour cream, salsa and scallions in a food processor until smooth. Transfer to a microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on High until hot, about 2 minutes.

To assemble tostadas, spread each tortilla with some bean mixture and some salmon mixture and top with the cabbage salad. Serve with lime wedges, if desired.

Kitchen tip: Look for convenient pre-shredded cabbage-and-carrot “coleslaw mix” near other prepared vegetables in the produce section of the supermarket.

Link to recipe: http://www.eatingwell.com/nutrition_health/nutrition_news_information/foods_that_fight_pain?page=3


describe the imageMint:

Menthol in peppermint is known for helping with headache and back pain symptoms, in addition to treating muscle spasms. Wintergreen’s methyl salicylate adds an additional pain-fighting boost that blocks the enzymes that cause inflammation and pain. Try making mint tea to help with headaches and general aches and pain. 

Cucumber Salad With Mint & Feta 

1 lb thin skinned, mild (non bitter) cucumbers, such as Persian, Armenian, or Japanese cucumbers, thinly sliced. You might also try it with English cucumbers.

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced and cut into 1-inch long segments

2 or 3 red radishes, thinly sliced

10 mint leaves, thinly sliced

White vinegar

Olive oil

1/4 pound feta cheese

Salt and freshly ground pepper


In a medium sized bowl, gently toss together the sliced cucumbers, red onion, radishes, mint leaves with a little bit of white vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Right before serving, sprinkle on crumbled bits of feta cheese. 

Serve immediately.

Link to recipe: http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/cucumber_salad_with_mint_and_feta/


describe the imageHot Peppers:

Capsaicin, an ingredient in hot peppers, can help reduce pain. In fact, you may notice that many topical creams contain this as a pain-fighting ingredient. Capsaicin helps alleviate pain in part by depleting your body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that is involved in transmitting pain signals to your brain. It also works by de-sensitizing sensory receptors in your skin.

Hot Pepper Relish

1/2 pound hot green peppers (such as jalapeños or serranos), stemmed, seeds removed for a more mild relish

1/2 pound hot red peppers (such as fresnos or cherry peppers), stemmed, seeds removed for a more mild relish

1/2 pound yellow onions, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 cup cider vinegar

1/4 cup white sugar


Place peppers and onions in bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. Pulse until peppers and onion are finely chopped. 

Transfer pepper mixture to a fine mesh strainer set inside a bowl. Stir in salt and let sit for 2-3 hours. Rinse under cold water and strain, pushing vegetables against side of the strainer using a rubber spatula to remove as much water as possible.

In a medium saucepan, bring vinegar and sugar to a boil over medium high heat, stirring to dissolve to sugar.

Add in pepper mixture, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Transfer relish to an airtight container and store in refrigerator up to a month.

Link to recipe: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/05/hot-pepper-relish-recipe.html 

What other foods do you incorporate into your daily / weekly diet to help manage pain? Share your diet success stories and healthy recipes on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/advancedpainmanagement

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Last modified on Wednesday, 22 November 2017 09:51

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