Normally, March in Seattle means navigating through the fifth month of gray skies, curbing our seasonal affective disorder with caffeine and sugar, and gearing up for an active and approaching spring. This year, the sun may be shining, but many of us are navigating the more uncertain waters of a global health crisis. Fortunately, there are still a few things we can find comfort in – a blanket and a book, a warm bath, a brisk walk, and the knowledge that we have the power to support our immune systems merely with the foods that we’re eating.
Humans have long understood the link between diet and health, and every year we’re learning more and more. Today, we have good evidence to suggest that vitamins A, B6, E, C, D and zinc and folate play important roles in launching an effective immune response. Here are five recipes to ensure you’re getting enough of these essential nutrients (and while you’re at it, be sure to exercise, get adequate sleep, and manage your stress!).
If you’re looking for a quick fix that will invigorate your taste buds and wake up your immune system, look no further than this potent drink featuring ginger, honey, apple cider vinegar (ACV), lemon juice and turmeric. These ingredients contain anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, as well as vitamins C, B6 and A. Use raw, organic, unfiltered and unpasteurized ACV that contains the protein and enzyme rich “mother” to reap the full benefits.
Miso, a fermented food made from soybeans, rice and/or barley, is a Japanese staple that’s been around for millennia. Salty-sweet, earthy, and funky, it is used in a variety of dishes, from soups to sides to salad dressings to desserts. Nutritionally, it contains thousands of probiotics that strengthen your gut biome, which plays a key role in managing your immune system. However, it’s important to note that the beneficial bacteria are heat-sensitive; heating miso until it’s hot to the touch will actually destroy much of the bacteria you want to populate your gut. Make sure to stir in the miso in the very last step of making the soup, and enjoy it just shy of “hot”.
Sometimes we need to look no further than time tested traditions of “food as medicine”. Turns out, there’s good reason our mothers and grandmothers served us chicken noodle soup when we were feeling under the weather as children, and good reason we should turn to it today. Hot chicken soup – chock-full of carrots, parsnips, onions and garlic – may help to thin mucus, relive upper respiratory cold symptoms, increase hydration, replenish antioxidants, and deliver protein and nutrients.
We’ve long touted citrus fruits as being the primary bearers of vitamin C, but did you know that one cup of chopped red bell pepper can contain nearly three times more vitamin C than one cup of an orange? There are many benefits to this vitamin; studies have shown it stimulates the production and function of white blood cells to produce antibodies to fight infection. However, since it is water soluble and passes through the body quickly, we need to pair it with iron to absorb as much of it as possible. This recipe combines bell peppers (high in vitamin C), with flank steak (high in iron), to ensure your daily dose of both. Pro tip: for any recipe, squeeze a bit of lemon or lime juice into your cast iron pan before using it to increase your intake of these nutrients.
Cruciferous vegetables are known for their high nutrient content, and broccoli is no exception; it contains powerful antioxidants which help support your immune system, particularly when eaten raw. To add even more nutritional benefits to this broccoli slaw recipe, use raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar, pro-biotic rich yogurt instead of mayo, and throw in some bell peppers and kale for some additional vitamin C.