After discovering he had rheumatoid arthritis, chef Seamus Mullen experimented with "hero foods"—kale, anchovies, extra-virgin olive oil and more—and created incredibly tasty tapas.


For Seamus Mullen, who made his name at new York City's Boqueria, the most awe-inspiring ingredients are those that keep him healthiest—and are best for the planet. Mullen cares more about nutrition than most chefs: Two years ago, he was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and he learned that a diet low in sugar and high in fruits, vegetables (especially dark, leafy ones like chard and kale) and oily fish (including sardines and salmon) helped keep his joint pain at bay.

It's a way of eating that's actually healthy for everyone, which is why he's writing a cookbook about what he calls his "hero foods." "I revere anchovies, for example," he says. "They're little fish that have tremendous flavor; they're high in omega-3 fatty acids, so they're great for my joints; and they're low on the food chain, so they're sustainable. That, to me, is a true hero food."

Using the mighty anchovy and his other hero ingredients, Mullen created the tapas recipes here to show just how powerful a small dish can be.

Hero Foods

Extra-virgin Olive Oil Olive oil has natural anti-inflammatory properties.

Oily Fish Thanks to omega-3 fatty acids, fish like sardines are great for joints.

Leafy Greens Folic acid in greens like chard can combat joint pain.

Almonds The vitamin E in almonds can help prevent joints from swelling.

Healthy Recipes & Chefs:

Stuffed Fried Sardines
Credit: © Marcus Nilsson
Soba Noodles with Grilled Shrimp and Cilantro
Credit: © Stephanie Foley
America's Fittest Chefs