Winter begins on December 21. We’re already feeling the chill in the mornings and blustery winds throughout the day. According to weather forecasts, soon we’ll have snow and freezing temperatures in the central and eastern states. If you’re like me, staying indoors with a caramel latte and a good movie or book, seems much more appealing than braving the frosty outdoors. Yet, spending more time indoors, hibernating from the harsh weather, has its downside. It leaves us in closer proximity to others where germs can spread more easily from person to person.
Taking care of ourselves is super important during this season. Not only should we get the flu shot, cover our mouth (and nose!) when we cough or sneeze, and wash our hands right after, but we should take steps to protect our immune system. That means treating yourself well, resting when tired, avoiding stress when possible, exercising (10K steps does wonders!), and eating immune boosting foods.
Given that I’ve started another healthy cooking challenge, cooking at home everyday for the next 60 days, I really wanted to find out what immune boosting foods Sara Siskind, a Certified Nutritional Health Counselor and founder of Hands on Healthy, would recommend. I’ve been experimenting with spices and trying to get out of my comfort zone. It’s been hit or miss. Some dishes we’ve loved, while others we’ve hated, but ate anyway, because I’m trying to avoid food waste.
I decided to turn to an expert, someone who could guide me, and would keep in mind my cultural foods. Although not a Latina, Sara, was able to offer some easy tips to boost our immune system. After reading them, you may find that you already eat one, or more, of the recommended foods. I did and I was happy to hear I was on the right track.
Boost Your Immune System with These 5 Foods
1. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals. Reach for red and pink grapefruits, oranges, kiwis, and berries. Choose cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. These fruits and veggies are not only loaded with essential vitamins and phytonutrients, but they are also rich in antioxidants which give your immune system a boost and help build up your digestive track.
2. Add in pistachios as a heart healthy, protein rich snack. Pistachios are also rich in antioxidants and the heart healthy fats to help your body absorb vitamin E. Vitamin E is needed by the immune system to fight off invading bacteria. Pistachios are also rich in vitamin B6 which also helps prevent infection and create healthy red blood cells your body needs. Setton Farms Pistachio Chewy Bites are an easy way to eat pistachios on the go. Add a few in your bag. They’ll help you avoid temptation so you won’t grab a donut from the corner cart or hit up the vending machine when that 3pm slump hits!
3. Look for omega 3 fatty acids and selenium which are found in shellfish, salmon, mackerel, and herring. These foods help white blood cells produce a protein which helps clear flu viruses out of the body. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body by clearing the lungs pathways. This can help protect from colds and respiratory infections.
Day 32 of home cooked #dinners! Today I made salmon burgers. It was the first time I made a meal with canned #salmon. I still need to work on how long I fry them but they tasted really good! Used a can of wild salmon, chopped up an onion and orange pepper, added an egg and 1/2 cup #glutenfree breadcrumbs as well as salt, pepper and lemon juice, then mixed it all together. I let it sit in the fridge for half an hour so it could absorb the flavors and set before frying them. Served the teen’s with rice and salad, and ate mine with salad. Yum. Yum. Yum. It was good! What did you have for #dinner? (No finished product. I cooked pretty late today so we were anxious to eat 😋)
4. Make yogurt your snack or go-to breakfast. Yogurt contains probiotics; “healthy bacteria” that your body needs to keep your immune system strong and keeps your digestive free of disease causing germs. Yogurt is also filled with protein that keeps your body energized and strong.
5. Spice up your food with turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon. These spices are especially known to contain antioxidants that help to protect your cells and keep inflammation in the body down. I add turmeric to soups, eggs, rice, and poultry. Fresh grated ginger brings warmth to any beverage. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, and easily added to anything you bake.
[Sidenote: I recently added turmeric and cinnamon to my beans. Never again! That was a horrible combo. My teen refused to eat them and it took me almost 4 days to eat them myself. Blah!]
Let’s chat! Do you, or have you, eaten these foods? How did you use them in recipes? Please share in a comment below! This mujer/woman is looking for new recipes!