Foods That Boost Your Immune System

It’s ever so important to work on strengthening your immune system during these frigid cold and flu months.  You can take your vitamins, stay hydrated, and get lots of rest — but you can also add some ingredients to your kitchen that can help tremendously, as well.

Garlic is one of the easiest immune-boosting ingredients to use.  It’s so affordable, easy to keep on hand, and it can be used in nearly every recipe.  So do just that – use fresh garlic in every recipe you can to reap the benefits.

Ginger is another powerhouse that’s easy to add to recipes.  Another way to make sure you get ginger into your diet daily is to sip on a homemade ginger tea every day.  Simply brew some hot water and steep freshly grated ginger to create a simple homemade ginger tea. Add lemon zest and raw honey to take it up a notch.

What ways do you keep your immune system in top-notch during these months?

Superfoods That Boost Your Immune System

As the temperature starts to get colder, the sneezing and sniffling noises surround us. Many of us are just expecting to get sick, feeling as if it’s unavoidable. If you eat the right foods and take the proper precautions, you could strengthen your immune system and avoid getting sick this year.

Here are six powerful immune-boosting superfoods that can help your body fight off sickness and infections.

1. Garlic
Garlic adds so much flavor to food, but you might want to use it a little extra during this cold and flu season. Once garlic is crushed, it produces a compound called allicin, which has strong anti-bacterial properties. It also boosts your immune response. However, this compound only lasts for a short moment after the garlic is crushed. If you’re seasoning your food with fresh garlic, make sure to eat it shortly after you crush it for maximum benefits.

2. Matcha
Matcha is a true superfood. It contains exceptionally high levels of antioxidants, which help your body fight off disease-causing free radical compounds. The antioxidants in matcha boost the function of your immune cells and decrease inflammation, which means that if you do get sick, matcha can help alleviate your symptoms. Matcha also contains antimicrobial properties that can fight off any invading pathogens, such as viruses and bacteria.

3. Probiotic-rich foods
The billions of good bacteria residing in your body are a defense system of their own. However, when we get sick or our immune system is down, the population of good bacteria in our bodies decreases. As a result, the pathogenic bacteria now have space to reside and invade, causing infection and inflammation. By eating probiotics, we are ingesting more of these good bacteria and restoring this defense system. Yogurt, kimchi, kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, and tempeh are all great sources of probiotics.

4. Cinnamon
Cinnamon is a powerful spice that is rich in immune-boosting antioxidants. Antioxidants are some of the most important compounds for strengthening your immune system, so make sure to load up on them to prevent getting sick. Cinnamon also has anti-inflammatory properties, meaning that it can decrease inflammation in your body that is responsible for many of the symptoms you have when you do get sick.

5. Ginger
Ginger is not only useful in relieving nausea and digestive issues, but it also contains potent anti-microbial properties that can help the immune system fight off infection. Ginger contains a powerful compound known as gingerol, which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

6. Acai berries
Acai berries might be challenging to find fresh, but they’re equally as powerful as a powder or frozen. They contain an extremely high number of antioxidants and are one of the most effective free-radical fighting foods on the planet. They also have a high fiber content, which not only aids digestion but also serves as food for those good bacteria in our gut. This means that high-fiber foods, such as acai berries, help increase the population of healthy bacteria in our bodies and, as a result, inhibit the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

As the air gets colder, warming soups and stews become my most craved food.  There’s just something so calming about being warmed from the inside out with a healthy, nourishing, warm soup that smells up the house as it simmers for hours.

What’s your favorite soup or stew?  Leave a comment below – bonus points for a link to the recipe!

Mushrooms can pack a punch when it comes to immune-boosting benefits, which is especially helpful this time of year during the cold and flu months. Here are a few of the easiest to find and most powerful mushrooms you can include in your recipes this fall and winter:

  • shiitake
  • chaga
  • reishi

There are loads more, but I’ll leave you with a few, so I don’t overwhelm you. Try adding these mushrooms into your recipes as much as you can. They are so easy to toss in with soups, stews, veggie medleys, and even with your breakfast. A mushroom omelet is a great way to start the day.

If you aren’t a mushroom fan, you can also opt to try mushroom tea or capsules, even. Check your local health food store.

Are you a mushroom fan?

 

Mindful & Healthy Late-Night Snacking Ideas

If you’re anything like me, a late-night snack is something that comes to mind often. Most snack foods are usually less than healthy, and enjoying those before you turn in for the night could lead to a habit that causes negative repercussions you’re surely trying to avoid.

What’s your typical go-to snack? Let me know in the comments below. Here are a few healthy snack options for a mindful late-night snack:

1. Apple or Banana Slices with Nut or Seed Butter
To set yourself up for a great night’s sleep, try having banana or apple slices with almond butter or any nut or seed butter that you prefer. Bananas are rich in an amino acid called L-tryptophan. Through a process of steps, this amino acid gets converted into melatonin, which is the hormone that is  responsible for giving us a good quality sleep at night. Peanuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds also contain high levels of this amino acid, so butters from these nuts and seeds would be great choices. Almonds contain high levels of magnesium, which is an essential mineral that can help you relax and fall asleep easier.

2. Almond-Milk Yogurt with Berries
Pair some unsweetened, plain almond milk yogurt with your favorite berries for a sweet but low-sugar snack. Almond yogurt has protein and will keep you satisfied before falling asleep. A great trick is to use frozen berries and heat them in a saucepan until they begin to burst and release liquid. When you stir these warmed berries into your yogurt, your whole yogurt will be flavored with the taste of berries without the added sugars that store bought flavored yogurts contain! Plus, berries are great low-sugar fruits and don’t contain many calories. If you want to sweeten it up for a bit more of a late-night treat, you can add a teaspoon of raw honey or pure maple syrup.

3. Roasted Chickpeas
You might be wondering why anyone would reach for chickpeas to satisfy their late-night cravings, but they are delicious and crunchy when roasted!  You can create a variety of flavors, from adding spicy chili flakes to cinnamon and raw sugar. They’re even tasty with a simple sprinkle of salt. Simply rinse a can of organic chickpeas, pat them dry, season them to your liking and place them in the oven at 350°F/175°C for around 45 minutes. You can store them in an airtight container for a few days and always have a crunchy, healthy snack to grab. They’re packed with protein and contain fewer calories than roasted nuts.

4. “Nice” Cream
No more reaching for that tub of ice cream to satisfy your late-night sugar cravings! Banana “nice” cream is a much healthier alternative as it contains only natural sugars from fruit and no artificial flavors or added sugars. It is a low-calorie alternative to ice cream with way less junk. You can make the flavor anything you like. If you’re a chocolate lover, add a tablespoon of raw cacao powder, blend it with two frozen bananas, and add some dark chocolate chips to top it off. If you see that the consistency is too thick to blend properly, add a splash of any nut milk of your choice.

Now that autumn has arrived, and colder temperatures will only increase through the coming months — having this slow cooker oatmeal recipe in your arsenal will benefit you for months on end.

Slow Cooker Oatmeal Recipe:

  • 1/2 cups gluten-free, organic, steel-cut oats
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 6 cups of coconut milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Spray slow cooker with olive oil spray, so it doesn’t stick to sides. Combine all ingredients and add to slow cooker. Cook on high for 3-4 hours, stirring every hour or so. When desired thickness has occurred, your oatmeal is ready to enjoy.  Add any fresh fruit or raw nut toppings you desire.

 

The Most Quintessential Fall Produce

that's in season right now

Fresh produce can get expensive when you’re buying fruits and veggies that aren’t in season. When foods aren’t in season, they must be
outsourced from places that can grow them, or they’re being manufactured in a less natural setting. Both scenarios make for foods that aren’t as flavorful, and that cost more to import. Use this reminder to be aware of the produce you’re buying this season, and try to purchase foods that are in season. They taste better, cost less, and are fun to enjoy as a seasonal treat. Below is a list of the perfect fall produce that you should get your hands on.

1. Apples
Apples are great to stock up on because they have quite a long shelf life. They are also rich in fiber, which promotes gut health and in turn, overall health. One apple contains around 14% of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. It also contains potassium, vitamin K, and some B-group  vitamins. You know what they say— an apple a day keeps the doctor away. So have your pick from the numerous flavor varieties you can choose from this fall. You can even have a weekend excursion to a local apple orchard to pick your own — it’s the perfect fall activity.

2. Plums
Good plums aren’t easy to find all year round, so make sure to take some home this season. Plums are rich in potassium and antioxidants, which eliminate toxic molecules known as free-radicals from the body. Dried plums (called prunes) are loaded with fiber and are fantastic for regulating your digestive system.

3. Beets
Beets are incredibly high in folate (also known as vitamin B9), manganese, magnesium, vitamin C, and many other essential vitamins and minerals. They also contain anti-inflammatory properties, meaning they reduce the risk of any illness that is triggered by chronic inflammation.

4. Bok Choy
Bok Choy is a potent vegetable. They contain an enormous variety of antioxidants— more than most other produce out there. Because of this, it has been well-researched regarding its cancer-fighting properties, as antioxidants fight off cancer-causing free radicals. It is also extremely rich in vitamin A, K, C, and some B-group vitamins, such as folate (vitamin B9).

5. Brussels Sprouts
Not many people get excited about Brussels sprouts, but they should. They can taste great if prepared correctly, and they are considered one of the healthiest vegetables in the world. They are loaded with vitamin K and C, but they also contain the B-group vitamins, vitamin A, fiber, and many other minerals, such as manganese. Brussels sprouts have been shown to have protective effects against many illnesses.

6. Pears
Pears are as great as apples when it comes to their versatility in the kitchen. They also contain lots of fiber, but make sure to eat them with the skin as this is where most of the fiber and nutrients come from. Pears are rich in potassium, antioxidants, vitamin C, and magnesium.

7. Squash
Squash is a great complex carbohydrate to add to your meals this fall. It’s incredibly filling and won’t cause your blood sugar levels to spike because it’s full of fiber. Squash is one of the best sources of vitamin A, but it also contains many other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin E, C, the B group vitamins, iron, potassium, and magnesium.

With so many different quintessential fall fruits and veggies to choose from, you’ll be set this season with delicious, flavorful foods that ground you and energize you. What’s your favorite food in season this fall? Hit reply and let me know.

Turmeric is one of the most powerful spices on the planet.

As a staple in Indian culture, this spice can be widely used in most dishes and hot drinks.  Its chemical profile boasts a load of beneficial properties, making it a spice you want to use regularly.

Sprinkle it on your meals or make a vegan golden-milk latte a part of your wind-down routine each night.

Turmeric boosts your immune system, is a potent natural anti-inflammatory, can help balance your hormone levels, and naturally detoxes the liver.

Have you given turmeric a try?

 

 

A Formula for Making the Perfect Salad Every Time

When someone mentions the idea of having a salad for lunch or dinner, your first reaction may not be excited. You know salads are “healthy,” but you seem to never feel satisfied after eating them. I have great news — salads can be incredibly filling and packed with interesting, delicious flavors. The perfect salad should contain a balance of micronutrients and macronutrients. This will keep you satisfied for a long time and will provide you will all the essential nutrients that you need.

1. Carbohydrates (Fiber!)
While carbs might make you think of bread, pasta, and pizza, this macronutrient contributes a lot to your salad as well. Fiber is a component
of carbohydrates that your body is unable to break down and absorb. It is broken down by the bacteria in your gut, meaning that this carbohydrate won’t increase your blood sugar levels. Salads are loaded with fiber. Dark,  leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, and spinach are the very base of your salad, and these veggies contain a lot of fiber!

2. Healthy Fats
This is the part that will keep you full for a long time. Fats will also help you focus as they play an essential role in fueling the brain. They also keep your skin looking bright and youthful and are important for hormone production and balance. If you skip the healthy fats, you’ll end up with a sad salad! Add some avocado, olives, or salmon to your salad to really make it a satisfying meal. You should also toss your salad with olive oil and top it with crunchy nuts at the very end to add an additional source of healthy fats.

3. Protein
Proteins break down into amino acids, which are the building blocks of most molecules in your body! Add a source of lean protein to your salad, such as chicken breast, tofu, fish, chickpeas, or beans.

4. Probiotics
You’ve already added your prebiotics (fiber) which will feed the healthy bacteria, but now it’s time to make your salad extra nutritious by adding the healthy bacteria itself. Probiotics are found in all fermented foods, such as kimchi and even pickles. You can also make a kefir dressing to add some extra good bacteria.

5. Extra Toppings
This is the fun part—add whichever toppings you like! Play with textures and flavors, such as adding crunchy nuts and seeds, chewy dried fruits, or freshly chopped herbs. Instead of adding cheese, which can be high in fat and might trigger intolerances in some individuals, try adding some nutritional yeast. It has a very similar taste and contains lots of essential vitamins!

6. Dressing
No salad is complete without dressing, but this is often where store-bought salads go from being healthy to unhealthy. As previously mentioned, add olive oil to your dressing for some extra healthy fats. Lemon, apple cider  vinegar, and tahini are also great and healthy liquid bases for your dressing. Finish it off with some sea salt and pepper, and you have yourself a substantial meal.

What’s your favorite salad toppings? Comment below and let me know. I’m always looking for some new ideas I may not have thought of yet.

It’s apple season, and with so many different ways to enjoy apples, it’s an exciting time of finding new recipes and enjoying them all season long.

One way to use apples (that you may not have ever thought of!) is sautéing them with Brussels sprouts.

Sauté your chopped Brussels sprouts and apples in olive or coconut oil.  If you’d like to spice them up, sprinkle with cinnamon and a dash of pure maple syrup when they’re nearly finished cooking.

Enjoy!