As the season changes, unfortunately along with the leaves changing colour comes coughs, sniffles and a mutiny of virus’ that make the rounds of the office, school and home. Food can play a part in overall family health, but that’s if you can get everyone to eat what you are serving up.
Some important immune boosting ingredients for any meal should include garlic and onions, vitamin C-rich peppers, iron-rich dried fruits and zinc-rich nuts, beans and seeds. Add into snacks and meals wherever you can. As for meals, often eating is the last thing anyone feels like as they battle a bug, so it’s got to be good.
Here are some immune boosting meals that should tempt even the sick or picky:
- Chicken noodle soup – when made from homemade stock, chicken noodle soup is the go-to during any sickness. It helps to break down mucus build up so helps any cough or runny nose. To your stock add torn chicken, finely diced onion and garlic, celery, carrots and shiitake mushrooms along with 2 tablespoons of miso paste at the end (don’t boil it). The miso paste is choc full of fermented goodness.
- Pasta and meatballs – a meal that can come straight from the freezer after batch cooking in advance. To your sauce add garlic, onions, shiitake mushrooms, colourful peppers and finely diced carrots. If adding homemade meatballs or using ground meat, opt for dark turkey or chicken meat that’s higher in iron and cook before adding to sauce with extra garlic.
- Root vegetables like squash, turnip and parsnip make a fantastic mash with a handful of raisins tossed in for extra iron. Add garlic to make this dish a bacteria and virus blasting accompaniment. Roast, steam or bake alongside some fish or chicken for a speedy and simple dinner.
- Flat bread pizza is a winner on anyone’s dinner table. Use the pasta sauce from above, toss on some gently fried onion, garlic and mushrooms and leftover chicken. Add more protein (chicken) than usual as it’s integral in supporting the immune system. Easy on the cheese as it can increase mucus make it harder to expectorate mucus. Try goats mozzarella or sheep cheese for a change. It melts easily and no one will know it has been swapped.
- Crustless quiche or frittata with iron- rich eggs and vitamin C-filled peppers is a fast and simple dinner that easily turns to lunch the next day. Use up leftover sweet potatoes and hide some greens like ripped spinach or kale. Serve with carrot sticks and hummus as beans have zinc and carrots contain beta-carotene. Both are used up during a cold or flu.
Avoid sugar at all costs, even if it’s the only thing asked for. It slows the immune army for a period of hours at a time that it needs foods mentioned above to stay strong and fight. Explaining to the family why you have plated up such a meal should make it easier when another round hits.