How I Healed My Chronic Illness With Food: A Guest Post from Amie Valpone

Amie Valpone
April 13, 2016

Is it really possible to heal chronic illness through food?

Our friend Amie Valpone shares her story of healing through functional medicine and clean eating and a recipe from her new book, “Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body

Ten years ago I felt lost. I was on disability from my job and on a cocktail of pharmaceutical drugs. I saw hundreds of doctors, all of whom had no idea what was going on with me. Hence the reason they put me on drugs to Band-Aid my awful symptoms. My whole world shifted when all of my health issues came to a climax.

At the age of 22, I found myself hospital bound with diff colitis, on morphine and with 24 hours to live. At that very moment I knew if I stayed on the path I was on I wouldn’t make it much further. I had to make a radical change.

I left the western medicine world and started working with functional medicine doctors , who discovered lyme disease, PCOS , hypothyroidism, heavy metal accumulation, toxic mold levels, leaky gut , candida and much more. I was given a strict protocol and I didn’t even know where to start. I felt like my body was withering away at 90 pounds. I had to cut out gluten , dairy , soy, sugar, eggs, corn and so much more. I had NO idea what to eat . At this ripe age of 22 I felt like my life was falling apart and I felt deprived.

I had to re-learn how to eat and live clean. All of the sudden my life become one big detox. I had to detox from the chemicals I was bombarded with in my food, environment and water.

I started by eating endless amounts of green veggies (ask anyone that knows me—I’ve got a zucchini in my bag at all times), lots of healthy fats like extra-virgin olive oil and avocado along with lean proteins and healthy carbohydrates from sweet potatoes and gluten-free whole grains such as millet, quinoa and black rice. I always chose organic because to me, eating clean, meant choosing not to ingest pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones and antibiotics that are found in conventional (non-organic) foods.

Once I started eating clean, I also began switching my lifestyle to a more organic approach. I filtered my sink water and shower water, detoxed my cleaning supplies  and beauty products . For the first time in 10 years my liver enzymes and thyroid began to normalize. I had energy and even noticed the rosy glow returning to my cheeks.

I was healing a decade long struggle with chronic illness on my own. For the first time in my life, my body began working FOR me, not against me.

Eating and living clean saved my life, so I made it my mission to share what I had learned with the world. I decided to leave the corporate world of marketing and advertising to focus on my newfound passion of helping actual people adopt a healthy and clean lifestyle. Today my sole desire is to help you and your body feel as amazing as possible through various simple yet life-altering changes to your nutrition and lifestyle habits.

In my new cookbook, Eating Clean: The 21-Day Plan to Detox, Fight Inflammation, and Reset Your Body I give you a road map to help you heal your health, your weight, and your life. Today I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes from my book.

Millet ‘n Veggie Breakfast Tacos: Two Ways

Serves 4

This filling combination of whole grains and veggies will keep you satisfied long until your next meal.


  • 1½ cups cooked millet
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt 8 gluten-free whole-grain tortillas (corn-free)
  • 1 recipe Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard or Portobello Mushroom and Red Pepper mixture (see opposite)
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 large ripe avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cumin Cashew Cream Sauce, optional
  • Seriously Sensational Sriracha Sauce, optional


  • To assemble, warm the tortillas on a baking sheet in a 350°F oven or in a dry skillet on the stovetop over medium heat
  • Place the warm tortillas on a platter or on individual plates
  • Divide the millet among the tortillas
  • Top each with either the Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard or the Portobello Mushroom and Red Pepper mixture
  • Top with the cabbage, avocado slices, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste
  • Finish with a dollop of the Cumin Cashew Cream Sauce and/or a drizzle of the Seriously Sensational Sriracha Sauce, if desired
  • In a small bowl, combine the millet, cilantro, lime juice, and salt.
  • Stir to combine and set aside
  • Make one or both flavor options below

Flavor Options: Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard


  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil 4 cups peeled, seeded, and diced butternut squash (1⁄4-inch cubes)
  • ½ bunch Swiss chard, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat
  • Add the squash and sauté for 7 to 8 minutes
  • Add the remaining ingredients and cook until the chard has wilted, about 2 minutes
  • Keep warm

Flavor Options: Portobello Mushroom and Red Pepper


  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large portobello mushroom, cut into 8 slices 1
  • large red bell pepper, cut into long strips
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • Pinch chipotle powder ¼ cup thinly sliced radish, for garnish
  • In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium heat
  • Add the mushrooms in a single layer
  • Cover and cook for 4 minutes, then flip and cook for 2 minutes more
  • Add the bell pepper, cumin, salt, black pepper, chipotle powder, and remaining oil, if needed
  • Cook for 5 minutes or until vegetables are cooked through, stirring often
  • Garnish with the radish
  • Keep warm

Text excerpted from Eating Clean, © 2016 by Amie Valpone. Reproduced by permission of HoughtonMifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

Amie Valpone
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