Food to Boost Your Immune System and Fight the Flu

The National Herald

Spinach salad. Photo: By cyclonebill, via Wikimedia Commons

Foods that boost your immune system can help keep you healthy all year long, even in the midst of cold and flu season. Simple, nutrient-rich foods, full of anti-oxidants that fight free radicals support immune health. The gut is also a major part of the body’s immune system and keeping the gut healthy contributes to our overall health and well-being. A balanced diet and moderate exercise are not only good for you, they help you feel better as well, even if the long, dark winter is getting you down. Try the following recipes to help keep your immune system in top condition. For those who unfortunately do come down with cold or flu symptoms, consult your physician.

Healthy Smoothie

1 cup fresh baby spinach 3/4 cup frozen green grapes 1/2 cup brewed green tea, cooled 1 medium ripe kiwi, peeled and chopped 1 sprig fresh mint leaves 1/2 medium apple, cored and chopped

Add the spinach, grapes, green tea, kiwi, mint, and chopped apple to the bowl of a blender. Blend until smooth, adding water if needed for the desired consistency.

Spinach and Feta Salad with Walnuts

1/3 cup walnuts, chopped 1 lemon 1/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil 1 package fresh, pre-washed baby spinach 1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced 1/2 cup crumbled feta Greek sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Toast the walnuts in a dry pan over medium heat, stirring for about two minutes until their fragrance is released, careful not to burn them. Transfer to a plate to cool slightly. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the juice of half the lemon and the olive oil. Add the spinach, apple slices, walnuts, salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat with lemon and olive oil. Add additional lemon juice to taste, if preferred. Serve immediately.

Healthy Fruit Salad Apples, chopped Oranges, peeled and sectioned Kiwis, peeled and diced Pineapple, chopped Grapes Pomegranate seeds 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, optional Greek yogurt, optional Place the cut fruits in a large bowl and mix carefully to combine. Add the grapes, cutting in half if they happen to be very large, stir and garnish the top with pomegranate seeds and fresh mint, if using. For adults only, add half or a whole bottle of white wine or champagne for special occasions, and stir. Let the fruit salad marinade for half an hour or refrigerate for up to 2 hours. Stir before serving in individual bowls, spooning some of the liquid over the top. Any leftover juices and wine make for a refreshing drink. For more Greek flavor, serve with Greek yogurt for extra protein. If preferred, top with your favorite flavor of ice cream and enjoy as a sundae. A diversity of fruits in your fruit salad adds complexity and interest, not to mention vital phytonutrients to your diet. Use about a cup of fruit per person to determine the amount of fruit you will need for your salad. The fruits listed in the recipe are suggestions, so choose your favorites and enjoy.