Chevron left
View all articles

10 Healing Recipes: Practical Nutrition for Surgery and Recovery

Explore practical nutrition for surgery and recovery with our ultimate healing recipes. Learn how to reduce inflammation and support your body's strength using wholesome ingredients. From gut-friendly meals to anti-inflammatory spices, these dishes are designed to promote better health and efficient healing.
By Heather Campbell
Updated: May 29, 2024
Probiotic-rich yogurt bowl with mixed berries and nuts
Probiotic-rich yogurt bowl with mixed berries and nuts

Discover 10 recipes that aid in recovery and promote better health. These dishes are designed to tackle inflammation and support your body's strength with wholesome ingredients.

Key Takeaways

  • Healing foods such as whole grains, leafy greens, and spices like turmeric and ginger are key to wellness, offering benefits like reduced inflammation and boosted immunity.

  • Incorporating gut-friendly and anti-inflammatory ingredients into meals, such as probiotic-rich yogurt and fiber-dense stir-fry, can promote digestive health and vitality.

  • Nutrient-rich meals, snacks, and spices are not only flavorful but also therapeutic, playing a vital role in tissue repair, energy levels, and overall healing, especially during a recovery period.

The Power of Healing Foods

Variety of colorful fruits and vegetables
Variety of colorful fruits and vegetables

Healing foods, rich in nutrients, play a critical role in our quest for wellness, fighting inflammation and boosting immunity. Eating a diet filled with whole foods like sweet potatoes, beans, and leafy greens can lead to improved digestion, healthier skin, and less joint pain.

Healing in the Context of Surgery and Recovery

Leading up to and after surgery, the body requires top-quality nutrients for optimal preparation and recovery. It's like putting the right gas in your car. The right blend will make your engine run smoothly, but the wrong type can cause problems. It's only natural to occasionally crave comfort foods, and it's not something to beat yourself up over when done in moderation. However, in times like these, it's particularly beneficial to be mindful of everything you consume.

Lastly, keep in mind that everyone’s healing journey is unique, and it’s crucial to follow your doctor’s dietary recommendations during this crucial phase.

What Constitutes a Healing Recipe?

Healing recipes feature ingredients that support your body's recovery. Consider tropical fruits like pineapple and guava, which offer digestive enzymes, fiber, and vitamins for better digestive health. These elements form the core of a healing recipe, aiming to boost health and energy.

Key Ingredients for Healing

Discover the benefits of ginger, turmeric, and garlic, which are recognized for their anti-inflammatory properties. Spices such as cinnamon and cayenne can also help reduce inflammation. Incorporate garlic, yogurt, beans, and legumes into your meals to improve gut health.

Don't overlook leafy greens; they're packed with nutrients and help fight inflammation.

Gut-Healing Meals for Optimal Health

It’s important to look after your gut, and a good way to do this is by eating meals that are good for it. From breakfast to dinner, you can add ingredients like oats, yogurt, and various vegetables to your diet to support your digestive system.

Probiotic-Rich Yogurt Bowls

Start with a base of Greek yogurt and add your favorite fruits, nuts, seeds, and a touch of honey for sweetness. This yogurt bowl is packed with probiotics that support gut health and improve immunity.

Quinoa & Mixed Vegetables Stir-Fry

Quinoa, a gluten-free grain, combines with a medley of vegetables for a fiber-rich stir-fry. This meal is not only simple and flavorful but also supports smooth digestion and gut health.

Recipe: Rainbow Quinoa Vegetable Stir-Fry


  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced

  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

  • 1 zucchini, diced

  • 1 carrot, julienned

  • 1 cup broccoli florets

  • 1 cup snap peas, trimmed

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari for a gluten-free option

  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Optional garnish: sesame seeds, chopped green onions, and a squeeze of lime


  1. Start by boiling the vegetable broth in a medium-sized pot. Once boiling, introduce the quinoa, then lower the heat, cover the pot, and let it simmer for 15-20 minutes until the quinoa is fluffy and has absorbed all the liquid.

  2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, zucchini, carrot, broccoli, and snap peas. Stir-fry for 4-5 minutes until the vegetables are tender-crisp.

  3. Add the minced garlic and grated ginger to the pan, and stir-fry for an additional minute until fragrant.

  4. Once the quinoa is cooked, add it to the pan with the vegetables. Drizzle the soy sauce or tamari and sesame oil over the top. Toss everything together to combine and heat through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. Serve the stir-fry warm, garnished with sesame seeds, chopped green onions, and a squeeze of lime if desired.

This Rainbow Quinoa Vegetable Stir-Fry combines nutritious quinoa with a variety of vegetables for a meal that's both healthy and satisfying. It's a great option for a main dish or a complement to other proteins.

Anti-Inflammatory Spices That Heal

In your kitchen's spice rack, you'll find ingredients that not only enhance taste but also offer health benefits. Among these are:

  • cumin

  • coriander

  • garlic

  • ginger

These spices are practical additions to your kitchen, helping to reduce inflammation with regular use. Their health benefits can be easily incorporated into your meals, enhancing both flavor and wellness.

Turmeric: The Golden Spice

Turmeric, known as the golden spice, contains curcumin, is a compound celebrated for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This vibrant yellow-orange spice has been a staple in traditional medicine for thousands of years, particularly in Ayurveda and Chinese medicine, where it has been used to aid digestion, improve circulation, and heal skin wounds among other uses. The use of turmeric extends beyond its health benefits; its rich color and unique flavor make it a favorite in culinary practices around the world, especially in South Asian and Middle Eastern dishes. The use of turmeric extends beyond its health benefits; it's a staple in kitchens around the world, particularly in South Asia and the Middle East. It adds color to curries and a healthful element to smoothies. When combined with black pepper, its effectiveness increases, helping to ease:

  • joint pain

  • inflammation

  • arthritis symptoms

  • digestive issues

  • depression and anxiety

Recipe: Golden Turmeric & Lentil Soup


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced

  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed and drained

  • 4 cups vegetable broth

  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk

  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves

  • Salt to taste

  • Fresh cilantro for garnish

  • Lemon wedges for serving


  1. Begin by warming the olive oil in a large pot set over a medium flame. Add the onion and let it sweat until it turns a nice, clear shade, which should take around 5 minutes.

  2. Add the minced garlic, diced carrots, turmeric, cumin, coriander, and black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 2 minutes until the spices are fragrant.

  3. Stir in the red lentils and vegetable broth. Bring

Sweet Potatoes & Warm Spices

Sweet potatoes, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, offer a simple yet flavorful dish. The added hint of paprika and cayenne pepper gives it a slight heat, balancing the natural sweetness of the potatoes.

Recipe: Spiced Sweet Potato Mash


  • 4 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika

  • A pinch of cayenne pepper

  • Salt to taste

  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or honey (optional)

  • Chopped pecans or walnuts for garnish (optional)


  1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Start by bringing the sweet potatoes to a rolling boil over a high flame, then dial it down to a gentle simmer and let the potatoes soften, which should take roughly 15-20 minutes.

  2. After draining the sweet potatoes, return them to the pot. Mix in the butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, paprika, cayenne pepper, and a pinch of salt.

  3. Using a potato masher or an electric mixer, mash the sweet potatoes until smooth and well combined with the spices. If you prefer a sweeter taste, stir in the maple syrup or honey.

  4. Transfer the mashed sweet potatoes to a serving dish and garnish with chopped nuts if desired.

  5. Serve warm as a comforting side dish that brings the healing warmth of spices to your table.

Healing Soups for Your Well-being

Soups are a great way to get a lot of nutrients in a comforting, easy-to-digest form. They allow you to combine a variety of ingredients like vegetables and spices that can help with tissue repair and reduce inflammation.

Eating a bowl of nutrient-rich soup can be both comforting and beneficial for your health.

Chicken Soup with Garlic and Greens

Homemade chicken soup with garlic and leafy greens
Homemade chicken soup with garlic and leafy greens

Chicken soup, known for its comforting qualities, becomes even more beneficial for health with the addition of garlic, recognized for its immune-boosting properties. Kale and spinach, rich in vitamins and fiber, are also included to enhance the soup's nutritional value, making it a simple yet effective option for nourishment during recovery.

Recipe: Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup with Garlic and Greens


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 2 medium carrots, sliced

  • 2 stalks celery, sliced

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

  • 6 cups chicken broth

  • 1 cup kale, chopped

  • 1 cup spinach, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Fresh parsley for garnish


  1. Warm up the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Toss in the chopped onions and minced garlic, and cook them until the onions become soft and the garlic emits starts to smell, which should take a few minutes.

  2. Add the carrots and celery to the pot, and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.

  3. Add the chicken pieces to the pot and cook until the chicken is no longer pink on the outside.

  4. Pour in the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer.

  5. Add the kale, spinach, thyme, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let the soup simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is cooked through.

  6. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve hot, garnished with fresh parsley.

This immune-boosting chicken soup is not only comforting but also packed with ingredients that support healing and wellness. Enjoy a bowl to soothe your soul and strengthen your body's defenses.

Creamy Broccoli & Spinach Soup

Imagine a simple, nourishing bowl of broccoli and spinach soup. This soup combines the health benefits of coconut milk for creaminess with the nutrient-richness of broccoli and spinach. It's a straightforward, healthy choice that takes care of your body.

Recipe: Creamy Broccoli and Spinach Soup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced

  • 4 cups of broccoli florets

  • 2 cups of spinach leaves

  • 3 cups of vegetable broth

  • 1 can (14 oz) coconut milk

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Nutmeg, a pinch (optional)

  • Lemon juice, to taste (optional)


  1. Begin by warming the olive oil in a large pot over a medium flame. Toss in the chopped onions and minced garlic, and cook them until the onions become soft and the garlic emits a fragrant aroma, which should take around 5 minutes.

  2. Add the broccoli florets to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

  3. Add the vegetable broth to the pot, increasing the heat to reach a rolling boil. Then, lower the heat to allow the soup to simmer gently, letting the broccoli soften over the next 8-10 minutes.

  4. Puree the soup with an immersion blender directly in the pot. If an immersion blender isn't available, carefully transfer the soup in portions to a standard blender and blend until smooth, taking care to let steam escape to prevent pressure buildup.

  5. Return the pureed soup to the pot (if blended) and stir in the coconut milk. Heat the soup over medium heat until it's hot but not boiling.

  6. Add the spinach leaves and stir until they are wilted and fully incorporated into the soup.

  7. Season with salt, pepper, a pinch of nutmeg, and lemon juice to taste.

  8. Serve the soup hot, with a drizzle of olive oil or coconut cream and a sprinkle of toasted seeds or nuts if desired.

Enjoy your bowl of creamy goodness, a perfect blend of health and flavor in one spoonful!

Dinner Ideas for Recovery and Health

Dinner is an important meal for anyone looking to support their body's healing process. Simple, nutritious dinners can help end your day on a positive note, providing the necessary nutrients without being overly complex.

Grilled fish and bean stews are just a couple of examples of foods that can contribute to a recovery-focused diet, offering both taste and health benefits.

Sesame Oil Drizzled Grilled Fish

The simple taste of grilled white fish is enhanced with a touch of sesame oil, which adds a nutty flavor and beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. This dish is a straightforward, healthy option for dinner, served complete with a side of steamed vegetables for a balanced meal.

Recipe: Sesame Drizzled Grilled White Fish with Steamed Vegetables


  • 4 white fish fillets (such as cod, tilapia, or halibut)

  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)

  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder (optional)

  • Assorted vegetables (broccoli, carrots, bell peppers)

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds for garnish


  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.

  2. Rinse the fish fillets and pat them dry with paper towels. Season both sides with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and ginger powder.

  3. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the fish fillets on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

  4. In the last minute of grilling, brush the fillets with sesame oil and soy sauce if using, allowing the flavors to infuse.

  5. While the fish is grilling, steam the assorted vegetables until they are tender yet crisp, about 3-5 minutes.

  6. Toss the steamed vegetables with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  7. Serve the grilled fish immediately, topped with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

  8. Arrange the steamed vegetables on the side for a complete meal.

Enjoy this simple yet delicious meal packed with omega-3 fatty acids and the healing touch of sesame oil.

Hearty Bean Stew with Tomatoes and Herbs

Hearty bean stew with tomatoes and herbs in a pot
Hearty bean stew with tomatoes and herbs in a pot

The bean stew's comforting quality comes from a simple mix of onions, garlic, and thyme. Its main ingredient, cannellini beans, are not only rich in protein but also absorb the flavors of the stew well. This dish is hearty and nourishing, ideal for supporting wellness at the end of the day.

Recipe: Hearty Cannellini Bean Stew


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 2 cans (14 oz each) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 can (14 oz) diced tomatoes, with juice

  • 4 cups vegetable broth

  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced

  • 2 stalks celery, diced

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • Fresh parsley, chopped for garnish

  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)


  1. Begin by warming the olive oil in a large pot over a moderate flame. Introduce the onion and garlic, stirring them until the onion softens and the garlic becomes aromatic, which typically takes about 3-4 minutes.

  2. Stir in the dried thyme and smoked paprika, cooking for another minute until the spices are well combined with the onion and garlic.

  3. Add the cannellini beans, diced tomatoes with their juice, vegetable broth, carrots, and celery. Bring the stew to a boil.

  4. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

  5. Season the stew with salt and pepper to taste. For a thicker consistency, you can mash some of the beans with the back of a spoon.

  6. Serve the stew hot, garnished with fresh parsley and grated Parmesan cheese if desired.

This Hearty Cannellini Bean Stew is a nutritious choice, ideal for a satisfying end to your day.

Energizing Breakfasts for a Healthy Start

Starting your day with a nutritious breakfast is essential, especially when focusing on healing and health. A breakfast that's packed with nutrients can give you the energy you need and support your body's recovery process.

These breakfast options are designed to be both healthy and energizing, setting you up for a day of mindful eating and wellness.

Oats & Berries Power Bowl

Start your day with an Oats & Berries Power Bowl, a straightforward breakfast that includes:

  • Oatmeal

  • A medley of antioxidant-rich berries

  • Greek yogurt

  • Chia seeds

  • An array of nuts and seeds

It’s a bowl of food that’s as nutritious as it is tasty.

Recipe: Oats & Berries Power Bowl


  • 1/2 cup rolled oats

  • 1 cup almond milk or milk of choice

  • 1/2 cup mixed berries (such as strawberries, blueberries, raspberries)

  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter

  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional)

  • A handful of mixed nuts and seeds (such as almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds)


  1. In a saucepan, bring the almond milk to a gentle boil. Add the rolled oats and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the oats are soft and the mixture has thickened to your liking.

  2. While the oats are cooking, rinse the berries and set them aside.

  3. Once the oats are done, remove from heat and let them cool for a moment. Stir in the Greek yogurt to add creaminess.

  4. Transfer the cooked oats to a bowl. Drizzle with peanut butter and honey or maple syrup if using for sweetness.

  5. Top the oats with the mixed berries, chia seeds, and a generous handful of mixed nuts and seeds for added texture and nutrients.

  6. Serve immediately and enjoy a nutrient-packed start to your day with this Oats & Berries Power Bowl.

Green Smoothie with Healing Foods

Blended green smoothie with spinach, kale, and berries
Blended green smoothie with spinach, kale, and berries

Start your day with a green smoothie that packs a nutritional punch. The combination of romaine lettuce, kale, and various fruits provides essential vitamins and minerals. Avocado adds a creamy texture, while turmeric brings a burst of flavor and anti-inflammatory benefits.

This smoothie is quick to prepare and easy to digest, making it an ideal breakfast on the go.

Recipe: Morning Green Smoothie


  • 1 cup romaine lettuce, chopped

  • 1 cup kale, stems removed and leaves chopped

  • 1/2 ripe avocado

  • 1 small banana

  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries

  • 1/2 inch piece of fresh turmeric root, peeled (or 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric)

  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or water

  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup (optional)

  • Ice cubes (optional)


  1. In a blender, combine the romaine lettuce, kale, avocado, banana, and frozen berries.

  2. Add the fresh turmeric root or ground turmeric and chia seeds.

  3. Pour in the almond milk or water. Add honey or maple syrup for sweetness if desired.

  4. Blend on high speed until smooth. If the smoothie is too thick, add more almond milk or water until you reach the desired consistency.

  5. Add ice cubes if you prefer a colder smoothie and blend again.

  6. Pour the smoothie into a glass and enjoy immediately for a refreshing start to your day.

Therapeutic Snacks to Keep You Going

Therapeutic snacks are practical for keeping your energy up between meals. They include nutrient-dense options like dates and avocado hummus, which offer both taste and health benefits to help you stay energized and support your body's needs.

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas

For a satisfying crunch, try spicy roasted chickpeas. These are simply tossed in olive oil with spices like cumin and coriander, then roasted to create a snack that's full of fiber and flavor without too many calories.

Here's a quick recipe to help you make your own batch:

Spicy Roasted Chickpeas Recipe


  • 1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)

  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

  • Salt to taste


  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).

  2. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with olive oil and all the spices until evenly coated.

  3. Spread the chickpeas out in an even layer on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

  4. Roast in the preheated oven for 20-30 minutes, or until crispy and golden brown. Shake the pan or stir the chickpeas halfway through to ensure even cooking.

  5. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before serving. They’re best enjoyed warm and can be stored in an airtight container for later snacking.

Best fresh from the oven, they’re the perfect pick-me-up snack that’s as nutritious as it is delicious.

Almond Butter & Banana on Whole Grain Toast

Almond butter and banana on whole-grain toast is a straightforward, healthy snack. It combines the nuttiness of almond butter with the natural sweetness of banana, served on a slice of toasted whole grain bread for added fiber and nutrients. Quick to make and satisfying, it's an ideal choice for a wholesome snack.


These healing recipes and nutrient-rich foods demonstrate the significant role diet plays in health and recovery. Each recipe is carefully crafted to support well-being, showcasing how food can be both nourishing and medicinal. Incorporate these dishes into your routine to enhance your health journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes foods "healing"?

Healing foods are rich in essential nutrients that help reduce inflammation, strengthen the immune system, and promote tissue repair. They also support digestive health and can provide an energy boost.

Can I still enjoy comfort foods while focusing on healing recipes?

Yes, indulging in comfort foods occasionally is fine when focusing on healing recipes. Just maintain a balance with nutritious choices and follow your healthcare provider's dietary recommendations.

How do anti-inflammatory spices help with healing?

Anti-inflammatory spices like turmeric, ginger, and garlic contain compounds that help reduce inflammation in the body, supporting natural healing processes. Incorporating these spices into your diet can aid in managing conditions related to chronic inflammation.

Are there any quick and healthy snack options for busy days?

For a quick and nutritious snack, consider roasted chickpeas with spices or whole grain toast topped with almond butter and banana. These options provide energy and nutrients without much fuss.

Can healing foods and recipes also cater to special dietary needs, such as gluten-free or vegetarian diets?

Yes, healing foods and recipes can be adapted to cater to special dietary needs, such as gluten-free or vegetarian diets, by using ingredients like quinoa and modifying recipes to exclude animal products. With some simple adjustments, anyone can enjoy the benefits of healing foods regardless of their dietary restrictions.

Gray 4 curve bg
Transform Your Surgical Journey with Ready Set Recover
You'll benefit from:
Check mark icn
Actionable steps, inspiration, and information on topics applicable to any surgery.
Check mark icn
Focused meditations, sleep and exercise tracking, and monitoring of physical and emotional well-being.
Check mark icn
Assistance and motivation from your team of surgery supporters.
Ready Set Recover is a physician vetted online wellness platform empowering you to prepare for and recover from surgery so you get better, faster and with less stress.
It's healing, reimagined.
Try 1 Week Free
No Commitment. No Credit Card.
Hero section illustration 1