Make simple comfort food to boost your immune system with this warm salad, immune-boosting smoothie and tasty chicken broth. It’s another way you can help your body stay healthy during flu season. Chicken broth makes a great gift for those who are sick in bed too! Drop some around to your friends and neighbours.
Simple comfort food to boost your immune system
Seasonal changes, poor gut health, processed and refined foods, stress and our environment, are just some of the things that can suppress our immune systems.
One way to fight back is with our food. A colourful and diverse variety of whole foods, herbs and spices lay the foundations for good health. You really don’t need that pantry of expensive ingredients or superfoods for these comfort food recipes.
Most of our humble fruits and veg are rich in nutrients and enzymes that are necessary for almost every chemical process in the body and are the foundations for the health of our immune system. Nutrients that are particularly great for the immune system are Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin D and Zinc.
You don’t have to rush out and buy weird ingredients for these three recipes that will boost your immune system. They use everyday foods that are probably already on your grocery list. Just adapt the ingredients to what you have available at home at the time.
I particularly like the Warm Salad with Cauliflower. It’s fresh and yet still a perfect accompaniment to so many dishes, but the Immune-Boosting Smoothie with its clever hidden vegetables is gold. These simple comfort food to boost your immune system could make the difference between catching the latest lurgy or not.
Cauliflower salad. Photo by Jennifer Schmidt on Unsplash
Cauliflower Photo by Kim Daniels on Unsplash
Warm Salad with cauliflower
Easily thrown together, a salad can be so versatile. Roasting veg to add to salads is a great way to balance cooked and raw ingredients and helps us to transition salads into dishes still suitable in the cooler months.
The hero ingredient cauliflower is particularly rich in Vitamin C. Pumpkin seeds provide us with zinc. Carrot and spinach are both great sources of Vitamin A, and if we serve this salad with some cold-water fish such as salmon or tuna then we are well on our way to reaching our Vitamin D requirements.
- 1 head of cauliflower cut into florets
- 3 medium carrots (peeled, quartered pieces)
- ½ tbsp each of – ground cumin (or cumin seeds), fennel seeds, coriander seeds (or any other herbs/spices you have great for roasting)
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- Extra virgin olive oil (2 tbsp)
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- 1 cup of spinach (or any other green leafy veg)
- 1/3 cup of pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
- ½ cup mixed parsley and coriander leaves (optional)
- ½ fresh lemon
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius (or 180 fan-forced).
- Place the carrots and cauliflower in a roasting dish and coat evenly with the chosen spices, crushed garlic, 1 tbsp of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven for roughly 20 minutes, or until tender and slightly golden. Set aside and cool for at least 10-15 minutes.
- In a large salad bowl, place the cooled veg, spinach, pumpkin seeds, and pomegranate/cranberries.
- Toss salad together and drizzle over the remaining olive oil and lemon juice. Sprinkle the parsley and coriander leaves through, if using.
- Serve your Warm Salad as a stand-alone dish or serve with a portion of cold-water fish such as salmon or tuna.
Delicious bone broth. Photo by Sergey Norkov on Unsplash
Boost your immune system with Chicken Broth
Bone broth has numerous healing qualities, particularly because of the minerals and nutrients they contain. The beauty of throwing everything into a slow cooker is that when cooked over a long time, there is an array of these minerals that leak back into the stock. In a broth form, these minerals are easier to digest and provide our immune system with the boosts we are looking for.
Bone broth also adds flavour to dishes and can be used in a host of comfort food recipes. It makes a great stock for any soup recipe, but it is also good for anyone recovering from an illness who does not have much of an appetite.
This broth stores extremely well and is basically our immune insurance policy when we need it for convenient future use. I have filled my freezer with soup on standby in case I get sick or to gift to others.
1.5 kg bony chicken parts/carcasses (necks, backs, breastbones and wings) OR beef bone (marrowbones, knuckles, ribs)
- 2-3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
- 2 large onions roughly chopped
- 2 carrots roughly chopped
- 3 celery stalks roughly chopped
- 1 garlic bulb cut in half
- 2 large handfuls of flat-leaf parsley
- 1/2 tablespoon black peppercorns lightly crushed
Herbs and spices add incredible flavour and additional immune-supportive benefits to your broth too. Add in things from your cupboard or from your garden or grocer such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, cloves, bay leaves, curry leaves, cumin, kaffir leaves etc.
- Roughly chop the vegetables (no need peeling them) and place them, along with your choices of herbs/spices and apple cider vinegar into the slow cooker (or you can use a large stockpot).
- Add the bones and fill the slow cooker/pot closely to the top with water (roughly 10-12 cups – however, measure according to your sized cooker). You should aim to leave a few cms of room at the top.
- Set the slow cooker on low, cover and cook anywhere from 12 to 36 hours (the longer you cook, the more the flavours can develop).
- Carefully remove the larger pieces of bone and place them in a strainer set over a large bowl to collect the excess broth.
- Strain the remaining liquid broth into the bowl.
- Transfer the broth into individual jars and refrigerate.
- The fat will float to the surface of the jars and form a protective barrier that will prevent air from getting in contact with your broth.
- Option – Once fully cooled, you can remove and reserve the layer of fat (place into containers) that can also be re-used as cooking fat at another time for meat, poultry and vegetables dishes. The bone broth can be stored in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
I often use the broth as the basis for a chicken soup which includes diced chicken thigh pieces, carrots, potatoes and celery. Chop the vegetables into small pieces so the soup is super easy to eat.
This simple comfort food to boost your immune system makes a great gift for anyone who needs support while they are ill. It is easy to reheat and easy to digest. Your friends will thank you for this helpful gift.
Colourful immune boosting smoothie. Pic by Nathan Dumlaod on Unsplash
Boost your immune system with a smoothie
An immune boosting smoothie is one of the easiest ways to pack a lot of nutrients into one meal and it’s such an easy comfort food recipe.
What’s even better is that unlike juicing, you consume the whole fruit and the whole veg that was added, including the skins, peels, seeds etc.
Colourful fruit and vegetables such as berries are rich in polyphenols, that are a powerhouse to boost our immune system.
- 1 banana (fresh or frozen)
- ½ cup of frozen berries (or pineapple)
- ½ tbsp of fresh ginger (peeled)
- ½ zucchini or squash (these two vegetables have very neutral taste profiles and go unnoticed when blended into smoothies)
- 1 tsp of raw or Manuka honey
- ½ – 1 cup of coconut or almond milk (or any other milk preference)
- ½ tsp of ground turmeric (or swap in cinnamon if you don’t have turmeric on hand)
- You can add a serve of protein powder if you have on hand, or a couple of teaspoons of glutamine powder
- Ice cubes – optional
- Add all ingredients into your blender and blend on high until creamy and smooth.
- If more liquid is needed, add more of your choice of milk or simply add in some water.
- Pour into a glass and enjoy. Best when fresh.