Simple, Immune Boosting Meals

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Simple, Immune Boosting Meals

Although we cannot always control if a virus enters our body, we can help support our immune system to better fight off what we encounter. Healthy nutrition is important to keep the body balanced and functioning at its best.

Vitamin C: Important for our immune defense and oxidative stress. An insufficient amount can lead to impaired immunity and increased susceptibility to infections (1). Foods high in vitamin C include: broccoli, peppers, kale, brussels sprouts, kiwi, orange, guava.

Zinc: Needed for the development and normal function of immune cells and aids in the fight against infection (2). It helps to decrease inflammation and oxidative stress in the body. Foods high in zinc include: oysters, beef, crab (Alaska king), pork shoulder/tenderloin, lobster, chicken leg, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, yogurt, chickpeas.

Mushrooms: Offer many health benefits, including anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti- microbial properties as well as antioxidants, cholesterol-lowering properties and anti-hypertensive properties (3). They contain prebiotics which support gut health and β -glucans which can stimulate the immune system. 

Probiotic rich foods: With 70 % of the immune system residing in our gut, it is important to provide probiotic rich, fermented foods to support gut and immune health. Probiotic foods include: kefir, yogurt, kombucha, fermented vegetables – kimchi, beets, sauerkraut.

1. Chicken sausage and vegetable bowl

chicken sausage vegetable bowl

Servings: 2
Total time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1-2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 organic chicken sausage
  • 1 red bell bell pepper, diced
  • 3 large handfuls spinach, swiss chard or kale roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Optional Toppings: avocado, cheese, hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Slice sweet potato into thin, 1/4-inch rounds or triangles and saute in skillet with extra virgin olive oil for about 4-6 minutes, or until slightly turning brown.
  2. Add in sliced chicken sausage to the skillet to brown and saute another 5-7 minutes, tossing constantly.
  3. Add in diced bell pepper, handfuls of roughly chopped greens, sea salt & pepper and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Serve in bowls and top with: avocado, shredded cheese, hot sauce, etc!

Recipe adapted from rachelsgoodeats.com 

2. Chickpea Pasta Primavera

Servings: 2
Total Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • ¼-½ box chickpea pasta or 2 cups zucchini noodles
  • 4 cup vegetables – ANY kind you have on hand frozen or fresh! (broccoli, kale, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, mushrooms, cauliflower)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions:

  1. Boil water on stove for pasta
  2. Saute or roast vegetables
    1. To roast: place chopped vegetables on a baking sheet and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes-20 minutes, turning halfway through.
    2. Saute: heat oil or broth in pan over medium heat, add vegetables and saute until tender (about 5- 10 minutes)
  3. Cook pasta per directions on the box (about 9 minutes)
  4. Drain cooked pasta and top with vegetables, olive oil, salt, pepper and optional parmesan cheese

Tip: Try adding other spices such as turmeric, cumin, oregano, thyme

3. Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Servings: 10
Ingredients:

  • 1 stick grass fed butter
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup rice flour (or flour)
  • 2 cups grass-fed whole milk
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 quarts bone broth (or chicken broth)
  • 4 cups broccoli, stems and florets chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 12oz sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 6oz mild cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 1.5 cups of florets, chopped fine

Directions:

  1. Melt butter in a large stock pot, add in chopped onion and coat in butter, then let sit in the pan for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Stir onions on medium heat, allow time for them to make contact with the pan to caramelize a bit, do this for an additional 5-6 minutes. Once browned and softened add flour and stir until well mixed.
  3. Slowly add whole milk about ¼ cup at a time while stirring to allow a nice thickened mixture.
  4. Add in carrots, broth, broccoli, salt and pepper to taste (start with ½ tsp each), and bay leaves then simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Remove bay leaves, blend in two batches through the blender then return pureed soup to pot (can also use immersion blender). Slowly mix in shredded cheese over low heat, stirring constantly (adding to high heat can make the cheese grainy). Once all melted in, add florets of broccoli and simmer on low until softened about 5 minutes. Serve in bowls and top with shredded cheese or protein of choice.

Recipe adapted from: AliMillerRD.Com

4. Mushroom Omelet

Ingredients:

  • 3 eggs
  • 4 large mushrooms
  • ¼ cup onion, diced
  • 1 oz cheese
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Any other vegetables you have on hand!

Directions:

  1. Crack eggs into a mixing bowl and whisk together until smooth and frothy. Add salt and pepper
  2. Add olive oil into the pan over medium heat. Add mushrooms, onion and any other vegetables you enjoy and saute until tender. Then pour in the egg mixture surrounding the veggies. As eggs set, lift edges, letting uncooked portions flow underneath. Add cheese on top. Cook until egg mixture sets, 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Unstuffed Cabbage Bowls

Servings: 4
Total Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 lb grass-fed ground beef
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 T oregano
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 8 oz tomato sauce
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice or uncooked cauliflower rice
  • 1 medium head cabbage, cored and chopped (about 9 cups)

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and salt, breaking up and cooking until browned, about 5 minutes. Add onion, garlic, oregano, black pepper and stir. Add tomato sauce, ¼ cup water, broth, paprika, cover and cook on medium-low for 25 minutes.
  2. Add cooked rice (or cauliflower rice), cabbage and cook for additional 8-10 minutes or until cabbage is tender.

Instant Pot Directions:

  1. Press the saute button on the Instant Pot. Heat up oil then add the beef and salt, cook breaking the meat up until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, oregano and black pepper and stir. Add the tomato sauce, paprika, beef broth and raisins, cover and cook at high pressure for 15 minutes. Quick release, add the rice and cabbage and cook for 3 minutes at high pressure. Quick release and serve.

Recipe adapted from: Skinnytaste.com

6. Kimchi Fried Rice

Servings: 2

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tablespoons oil
  • ½ cup onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger
  • 2 cups chopped veggies – mushrooms, red bell pepper, zucchini, peas, carrots, broccoli
  • ½ cup kimchi– chopped, more to taste
  • 2 cups cooked, chilled rice or cauliflower rice
  • ½ teaspoon soy sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup chopped scallions
  • ⅛ cup cilantro
  • Top: 2 large eggs, poached or fried, optional sriracha or hot sauce

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add ginger and vegetables. Saute until ginger is fragrant and vegetables are tender, stirring often, about 5-7 minutes.
  2. Add kimchi and cook about 1-2 minutes or until heated through. Add cooked rice or cauliflower rice and cook about 3 minutes, until combined and warmed. (Add a little more oil if too dry). Taste and adjust by adding soy sauce if needed. Stir in scallions (can also add other greens at this point such as spinach or arugula).
  3. Divide into 2 large bowls and top with an egg, cilantro and optional sriracha. Serve immediately, breaking the egg yolk as a sauce over the rice.

Recipe adapted from: Feastingathome.com

7. Yogurt Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 oz plain Greek yogurt as the base
  • Optional toppings: fresh or frozen berries, kiwi, banana, sliced almonds, pecans, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, spices (cinnamon, turmeric, nutmeg), nut butter, honey

Directions:

  1. Place yogurt in a bowl, top with your favorite toppings!

For individual recommendations on improving your health, please schedule an appointment with Dr. Koganski at 215-750-7000 or https://www.NewtownInternalMedicine.com.

References: 

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29099763      
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277319/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618583/