INFLAMMATION - GOOD or BAD?
If you catch a cold, your body creates inflammation: in the form of a runny nose, sore throat, a cough. Maybe surprisingly, this is a sign of a healthy body which is healing itself. For inflammation is the immediate response to infection or injury. Redness, swelling, heat and pain, all show that we are fighting infection.
Nowadays, our first reaction to swelling is to try to bring it down. If it hurts, take an NSAID. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are the most used prescription drugs in the whole world. 
However, as inflammation is an essential part of healing, we do need to be sure that treatments to reduce swelling are absolutely necessary. We don't want to undermine, or slow down the healing process. So we want to be clear when a 'good' inflammation turns 'bad'.
What is the difference?
Acute - 'good' - inflammation is usually caused by injury, infection, radiation, toxins and allergies. Whereas chronic - bad - inflammation results from poor diet, too much alcohol, smoking, excessive exercise and/or other life style factors.
Chronic inflammation is a factor in diseases as diverse as heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's, macular degeneration and some types of cancer.
You don't feel sick, but a fire is quietly smoldering within you, upsetting the delicate balance among all of the major systems: endocrine, central nervous, digestive, and cardiovascular/respiratory. In a healthy body, these systems communicate with each another. With chronic inflammation, the communication becomes distorted and the immune system depressed.
So how to prevent this, or how to deal with it once it's happening?
Here we are primarily concerned with food - and food happens to be one of the most important causes of chronic inflammation.
* Avoid sugar, also - especially! - in the form of corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, golden syrup, maltose, and sucrose.
* Oil - most common cooking oils have far too much omega 6 and hardly any omega 3, which makes them pro-inflammatory. For hot frying, saturated fat is, surprisingly, your best option . Otherwise, choose extra virgin olive oil. See .
* Trans fats hide in deep fried, fast foods, commercially baked goods, and in those prepared with partially hydrogenated oil, margarine and/or vegetable shortening. Avoid them like the plague.
* Dairy is a common allergen, especially the way it is handled and sold today. For milk, choose organic wholefat milk. The fat which is naturally in milk helps our bodies use indispensable nutrients . Live yoghurt or other fermented milkproducts are fine too.
* Commercially produced and processed meats, alcohol, refined grains and artificial additives, are all inflammatory and should be viewed with suspicion; better still, avoided altogether .
* So what should you eat? Whole grains, dark leafy greens, nuts, garlic/onions, ginger, turmeric, olive oil, beetroot and berries are all anti-inflammatory .
"I recommend gradually incorporating small refinements that can make a big difference: eat more vegetables, reduce processed foods, practice healthy stress relief, and look for supplements that reduce inflammation, boost circulation, and fight free radicals. Beating chronic inflammation requires a holistic, lifestyle approach. In return, however, the potential gains of such healthy improvements will ripple into every area of life, offering increased vitality, energy, and vibrancy." 
Veg: spring greens, cabbage, spinach, chard, cauli, salad leaves/lettuce, radish, rocket, asparagus, sorrel, watercress, rhubarb, seakale.
Herbs: chives, parsley, mint, lovage, summer savoury and chervil.
Wild food: broom buds, chives, dandelions, fat hen, hogweed shoots, hop shoots, meadowsweet, sea spinach, sorrel, watercress, wild fennel, wild garlic, wild rocket, samphire.
Game: wood pigeon, lamb, mutton, guinea fowl, rabbit, duck.
Your fishmonger may sell samphire: serve fresh in salads or have as veg with melted butter. Wash thoroughly and don't add salt.
direct: beet, calabrese, carrots (though June sowings get less rootfly), french/runner beans, kohlrabi, lettuce, sweetcorn, swede, spring onions, spinach (beet), courgettes, marrows, (sugar) peas. If pea moth's a problem, wait till mid May.
in seedbed to transplant: leeks, cabbage, cauli, sprouting broccoli (early May), kale.
in trays: beans, courgettes, cucumbers, melon, pumpkins, pepper, sweetcorn, tomatoes.
plant out: cauli; cucumbers, marrows, pumpkins, tomatoes, squashes late May.
green manure: if you have space, do it now. See www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/basics/techniques/soil_growgreenmanure1.shtml
PAPRIKA PORK GOULASH with SOUR CREAM
50g lard or solid vegetable fat, 450g diced leg of pork, 4 sliced onions, 2 tbsp sweet paprika, 2 garlic cloves, crushed, 120g tomato purée, 2 tbsp nice vinegar, ½ tsp caraway seeds, 1 tbsp oregano and extra to serve, 150ml sour cream to serve.
Preheat oven to 150°C. Alternatively, you can do the whole thing on the hob, provided you add a bit more water and check regularly that it does not burn.
Fry the pork in the fat in 2 batches until golden brown. Put on a plate, then fry the onions for about
8 mins. Return the pork to the pan/casserole with the paprika and 150ml water and cook for 5-6 minutes, until all the liquid has evaporated. Add garlic, tomato purée, vinegar, caraway, oregano, ½ teaspoon salt and another 150ml water. Cover with tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven or on top for 1½ -1 ¾ hours until very tender. Taste the sauce and adjust seasoning if necessary. Just before serving, mix in the sour cream and some pepper, then garnish with extra oregano. This stew will improve immensely if made the day before.
Would you like your greens cheap but fresh? Do your radishes have more leaf than root? Try:
RADISH TOP SOUP80g radish greens, 5 sliced radishes, 2 sliced potatoes, 30ml cream, 1 large diced onion, 2 tblsp butter, 1l water/stock.
Saute onion in butter, add potatoes and greens. Then pour in/add liquid, bring to a boil. Simmer till the potatoes are soft, blend, add cream, cook and stir. Serve with radish slices.
SORREL OMELETTE serves 2 (daughter liked it, husband didn't but then he doesn't like spinach either)
40ml milk, 3 eggs, salt, pepper, (1 finely chopped clove of garlic), 1/2 handful sorrel leaves, oil/butter.
Whisk eggs with seasoning and milk. Roll up sorrel and chop. Heat butter/oil on medium, pour eggs into pan. Let the bottom of the omelette cook a bit before adding the sorrel. Mix leaves slightly into the eggs. Cook until done. Flip sides of the omelette in toward the middle to cover. With nice bread, fried tomatoes and lots of pepper. You can also add young spinach/chard, wild garlic, or spring onions.
MASHED POTATOES with GARLIC and LANCASHIRE CHEESE
450g desiree or king edward (floury) potatoes, 2 fat cloves garlic halved lengthways, 50g butter, 175g grated Lancashire, (salt), pepper.
Saute chopped garlic. Cut potatoes into chunks and cook until tender. Mash, add butter and garlic, pepper and cheese. Mash or whisk together very well: try make it light and fluffly. Serve very quickly.
MACKEREL with ONIONS and POTATOES
750g potatoes cut into 2-3cm chunks, 2 large onions, sliced into thin wedges, root to tip; 3-4 tbsp olive oil, thyme, 4 bay leaves, fillets from 2 large or 4 small mackerel, 1 lemon, cut into wedges, salt, pepper.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Mix oil, thyme, bay, and seasoning in a large bowl, stir in potatoes and
onions. Then put them in a tray, flat. Leave a little space between them. Roast for 30 mins. Season mackerel fillets, lay over the top of the roasting veg, roast for a final 10 mins. Serve with lemon wedges and salad.
SQUEAKY BUBBLE with PEAS
Leftover cooked spring greens (or other cabbage), leftover mash, onion, chopped bacon, peas.
Fry onion and bacon till nearly done, add mash and greens, fry till brown underneath. Meanwhile cook peas. Turn the squeaky bubble so the other side can brown too, and have with the peas.
HUNGRY GAP MASH for ONE HUNGRY EATER
250g potatoes, 20g young nettles (weighed after removing the main stems), sour cream, fresh mint, garlic, grated cheese.
Cook potatoes in salted water. About 5 mins before they're done, add the finely chopped nettles, mint and squashed garlic, cook till everything is done. Pour off any water, add some dollops of sour cream, season if necessary, mash, let warm through. With plenty of grated cheese.
What do do with your last old potatoes? Make
POTATO PATTIES! for 2.
500g old potatoes, 1 egg, pepper, salt, any herbs/spices you have handy.
Peel and cook potatoes. Mash well or put through a coarse grater. Mix with egg, 1 tsp salt, and pepper. You can add any herbs or spices you like. Make patties and fry. Serve with butter, thick yoghurt, or sour cream.
 See 'Blog Archive' at the right hand top of this page, and click on October 2013: cooking with fats.
 See 'Blog Archive' at the right hand top of this page, and click on September 2011: milk.
 See http://www.betterhealthpublishing.com/author/dr-isaac-eliaz/page/3/
Next month: Did you know ...?