This time of year, when the weather gets a little colder outside it’s a good idea to make a conscious effort to up your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables that help nourish your immune system and give your body the best chance to heal. Over 70% of your immune system is in your gut and what you eat forms the foundation to your health.
Do you get sick easily? Sensitive to colder weather or changes in season? Can’t get over colds and flus well – like they linger around and you can’t kick them fully? Your immune system is probably under-functioning. There are stacks of things you can do naturally to boost it and you can read about them here.
Today, we’re talking foods and immune-boosting meal ideas to pack into your winter season, when colds and flus tend to strike the hardest.
Monday: Capsicum Omelet with Green Tea
Fruit isn’t the only good source of vitamin C. A cup of chopped red capsicum contains 190 milligrams of the stuff, more than twice as much as an orange. They’re also rich in vitamin A, which aids the growth of mucosal cells, the first line of defense against bacteria trying to invade. As for tea, opt for a green variety and you’ll have the added benefits of more concentrated antioxidants, in particular EGCG, which seems to fight off viruses by increasing the number of regulatory T cells in the body, a marker of stronger immune system functioning.
Tuesday: Green Smoothie
Get used to juicing and blending fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs that provide you with a concentrated source of nutritients that the body easily absorbs. Citrus such as orange, lemon, pink grapefruit and lime are a great staring base then you can top it off with leafy green vegetables and any boosters such as ginger, turmeric, manuka honey, pineapple, superfood boosters and probiotics such as kefir. Also add pumpkin seeds when making the smoothie. Coconut water or the addition of some pinepple is also lovely if you want your smoothie a little on the sweeter side.
2 Whole Oranges
1 Whole lime
1/2 Whole lemon
1 large handful baby spinach leaves or your choice of greens
small sprig parsley
1 1/2 – 2 cups water or coconut water depending on your desired consistency
Pinapple – High vitamin C – Contains Bromelain that aids digestion and has anti-inflammatory properties.
Manuka Honey – Antibacterial to help fight virus and bacteria.
Ginger – Anti-inflammatory + helps promote gastric motility.
Turmeric – Natural antiviral with potent anti-inflammatory properties. High in curcumin a powerful antioxidant
- Peel oranges, lime and lemon.
- Combine in a high performance blender like a Vitamix with baby spinach, parsley, boosters and water.
- Blend for a few seconds until smooth.
Wednesday: Homemade baked egg rolls.
Packed with vitamin-filled vegetables like cabbage (the red kind, in particular, has tons of vitamin C), mushrooms and carrots, garlic, these egg rolls are baked instead of fried, so they’re not as oily.
- egg roll wrappers
- coconut oil (I’ve linked to my very favorite)
- 4 cups shredded cabbage – just green, or green and purple
- 2 cups sliced mushrooms
- 2 cups shredded carrots
- 1 tsp garlic, minced
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger or ginger paste
- a splash of soy sauce
- salt and pepper
- olive oil spray
- mung bean or sunflower seed sprouts
- Preheat your oven to 190 degrees. Gather your ingredients.
- Together in a pan with a bit of coconut oil, lightly sauté the vegetables.
- Splash in some soy sauce. Add the garlic. Mix in the ginger.
- By now your vegetables should be finished cooking. Be sure to drain any excess moisture from the pan.
- Place a bit of filling in the center of each wrapper. Fold in two of the corners or edges. Put a bit of water on the top edges with your finger. Fold up the bottom, and roll as tightly as you can to the edge. (It helps if you sort of tuck it as you are rolling.)
- Repeat for the rest of the wrappers, and place the egg rolls on a baking sheet greased with a little olive oil. Add a little oil the tops of the egg rolls, too.
- Bake 15 minutes, then flip the egg rolls over and bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving (this will let the wrappers get a little more crisp too).
- Serve with soy sauce mixed with rice vinegar for dipping, or your favorite dipping sauce.
Thursday: Ginger Carrot Soup with Turmeric
This soup is packed with antioxidants and superfood goodness that will nourish your body from the inside out.
1 leek, washed and finely sliced
1 stick celery finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon fresh grated turmeric or 1/2 teaspoon dry
600 g (21 oz) Carrot, thinly sliced with the skin
1.5 litres (6 cups/ 35 1/4 fl oz) Vegetable stock (hot)
1 French shallot, finely diced
pinch of sea salt
generous grind of black pepper
Combine stock, leek, celery, carrot, ginger, turmeric and shallot into a saucepan.
Heat until boiling then reduce and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the soup from the heat and cool slightly.
Blend until smooth.
Pour the soup back into the saucepan to reheat and season with sea salt and pepper. Add lightly sautéed shiitake mushrooms to boost immune boosting properties.
Serve with a little chopped parsley or chives.
Friday: Roasted Beet Hummus
Beetroot is also a wonderful healer, a blood purifier, promotes liver detoxification, lowers blood pressure, fights inflammation, and contains potent anti-cancer properties. Paired with garlic and lemon, this is a potent immune boosting recipe.
- 1 small roasted beet
- 1 15 oz. can (1 3/4 cup) cooked chickpeas, mostly drained
- zest of one large lemon
- juice of half a large lemon
- healthy pinch salt and black pepper
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 heaping Tbsp tahini
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Roast one whole beetroot.
- Once your beet is cooled and peeled, quarter it and place it in your food processor. Blend until only small bits remain.
- Add remaining ingredients except for olive oil and blend until smooth.
- Drizzle in olive oil as the hummus is mixing.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt, lemon juice or olive oil if needed. If it’s too thick, add a bit of water.
- Will keep in the fridge for up to a week.