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11 Favorite Immune Boosting Foods

11 Favorite Immune Boosting Foods

Top Run Fast Eat Slow Recipes to Stay Healthy this Winter 

By Natalie Bickford, MS


It’s that time of year when the temperatures just keeping getting lower and lower and it seems like everyone around you is starting to get the sniffles! Winter is officially here and with it comes peak cold and flu season!


It’s super important to keep your immune system strong during these months by getting enough sleep, exercise, reducing stress and cooking at home with all the nourishing foods! Our immune systems are dependent on how we treat our bodies, including what we put into our bodies. Eating a diverse whole food-based diet will give your immune system the support it needs to fight off the bugs!


We wanted to share with you some of our favorite immune boosting foods and recipes to help get you through the winter healthy, happy and strong!


11 Favorite Immune Boosting Foods

Garlic

Garlic contains a potent compound called allicin that helps to strengthen your immune cells and fight off infections. It has a long history of use for infections -- it’s even been referred to as “Russian penicillin”. To get the most out of garlic, eat it raw (like in our Garlicky Guac or Presto Pesto!). 


Turmeric

The curcumin in turmeric gives it that yellow/orange color and also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant superpowers. We love it in our Turmeric Coconut Sauce and Anti-Inflammatory Chocolate Milk or toss a fresh piece (just peel it) into any of our smoothie recipes (fresh ginger is also fantastic for immune support)!


Leafy Greens

Leafy greens, like kale and spinach, are loaded with vitamin C, which may reduce the length of symptoms of a cold. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that you need for your immune cells to function optimally.


Citrus

Make sure to load up on lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges this winter for a good dose of vitamin C. Our Kale and Edamame Orange Miso Salad is loaded with vitamin C from the citrus and kale. Start your day with a glass of warm water with fresh squeezed lemon juice for both digestion and immune support. 


Nuts

Almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts are an excellent source of vitamin E and zinc. These two nutrients are essential for having a strong immune system. Zinc deficiencies have been linked to an increased susceptibility to infection (1).


Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes get their orange color from a nutrient called beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Carotenes enhance the function of our white blood cells, which fight of infections (1). We love simply roasting up sweet potatoes for power bowls all week (Sunday Sweet Potatoes), savoring a bowl of Superfoods Soup, baking Sweet Potato Waffles, or whipping up Sweet Potato Hummus.

*Check out our blog post for 8 Tips for Perfectly Roasted Veggies!


Fatty fish

Salmon and sardines are packed with healthy omega-3 fats that help to reduce inflammation and promote better immune function. They are also a great source of vitamin D during these gloomy months.


Legumes

Legumes, like lentils, chickpeas and black beans, are nutrient powerhouses. They are loaded with protein, zinc and vitamin E to name a few! We love making our Slow Cooker Beef and Lentil Minestrone, the perfect freezable or make ahead meal.


Fresh herbs

Make sure to add some fresh cilantro and parsley to your meals. These herbs help to remove toxins from the body so that our immune system can work harder on fighting off infections. A Shalane favorite for fresh herbs is our Thai Quinoa Salad


Whole Milk Yogurt

Your gut is a huge part of your immune system and it’s important that it has plenty of good bacteria. Eating yogurt or other naturally probiotic-rich foods regularly will improve your gut bacteria and your immune system. Try adding yogurt to smoothies that are loaded with fruit and veggies. The fat in the yogurt also helps with nutrient absorption. 

Oats

Oats are rich in beta-glucan, a polysaccharide that your immune cells need to fight off infections. Oats are also rich in zinc and selenium, two important nutrients for immune function. We love using steelcut oats to make our Apple Pie Steelcut Oatmeal and rolled oats in our Banana Oatmeal Pancakes!

Our favorite immune boosting recipes

from Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.

Here is a roundup of our favorite recipes for you to make right now!

Elyse swears by the Immune Boost Smoothie and Garlicky Guac. Anytime she feels like she’s about to get a cold from the kids, she eats a bowl of that guac. Not that you need a reason to eat more guac…

 

Immune Boost Smoothie (RFCFES, p. 55)

Spinach and Sausage Frittata (RFCFES, p. 79)

Apple Pie Steelcut Oatmeal  (RFCFES, p. 77)

Banana Oatmeal Pancakes  (RFCFES, p. 80)

Pumpkin Spice Superhero Muffins (RFCFES, p. 62)

Slow Cooker Beef and Lentil Minestrone (RFCFES, p. 115)

Chicken Cannellini Soup (RFCFES, p. 116)

Superfoods Soup (RFCFES, p. 112)

Turmeric Coconut Sauce (RFCFES, p.181) - try it on Power Bowls or baked fish

Miso Butter Salmon (RFCFES, p. 155)

Kale and Edamame Orange Miso Salad (RFCFES, p. 96)

Thai Quinoa Salad (RFCFES, p. 90)

Sweet Potato Hummus (RFCFES, p. 195)

Garlicky Guac (RFCFES, p. 177)

Anti-Inflammatory Chocolate Milk (RFCFES, p. 236)

*If you haven't tried our Runners Recovery Tea, now is the perfect time! The custom tea blend is full of herbs that will help with inflammation, stress, and digestion. Find the recipe in RFES on page 36 or purchase it in our shop

 

Natalie is a nutritionist and personal chef in Portland, OR who specializes in women's health and sports nutrition. She loves creating simple, nourishing meals and recipes to fuel your life. Find Natalie at nataliecooks.com. 

 

Above: Stock your freezer with Presto Pesto, Sweet Potato Hummus, soup, and homemade nut butter. 

References:

1. Murray, Michael. The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.

Photography: Alan Weiner 

 

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