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7 foods to support your immune system this autumn
As the nights draw in and the temperature cools, autumn and winter bugs start lurking. It’s a time of year where focusing on our immune system is essential and as luck would have it, there are some delicious foods you can add to your diet to do just that. Whilst no food is 100% guarantee to fend off sickness, maintaining a well-rounded balanced diet is the best thing you can do to look after your mind and body.
We’ve compiled seven foods to add to your diet this autumn to better support your immune system (and suggested some SUPER simple ways to eat them too!)
One of the most flavoursome ingredients around also happens to be a powerhouse of nutrition. Garlic is also quite commonly used as a natural remedy for colds and flus. Incorporating garlic into your cooking is insanely easy – try one of this simple garlic chicken recipe.
Garlic and herb chicken: Simply crush one garlic clove into a bowl, with a teaspoon of dried herbs and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add one chicken breast (or more) into the mixture, and cover in the oil/garlic/herbs. Heat the oven at 180C and cook the breast for 20 – 25 mins until golden on the outside, white in the middle and the juices run clear (no pink bits). Serve with rice, noodles, sweet potatoes or steamed green vegetables.
Like garlic, ginger is often used as a natural remedy for colds and flu. People often mix it with honey and hot water, or drink ginger tea. Ginger is another really easy ingredient to incorporate in your weekly meals. Try this ginger and soya sauce tofu stir fry.
Ginger and soy tofu stir fry: Mix together a thumb of grated ginger, with a tablespoon of soya sauce, 1 tablespoon of honey and a splash of sesame oil. Cut your tofu into cubes and coat with corn flour. Heat a tsp sesame oil and add your tofu. After 2 mins, add half of your soya sauce mix. Fry until turning golden and then add the rest of your sauce. Serve with rice/noodles/your favourite veg.
Leafy greens like spinach are packed with goodness and antioxidants, which means no surprises, they are a great staple for ensuring a healthy immune system too. Spinach is amazingly versatile – you can quickly steam it and add it to any meal, mix into pastas, add to salads, blend into smoothies, the list goes on! Try this super simple spinach and tomato wholegrain pasta, which can be made ahead for lunches (it’s vegan too!)
Speedy spinach pasta: Boil a packet of brown pasta as per packet instructions. In a small saucepan, add olive oil, one crushed garlic clove and a tin of chopped tomatoes. Add teaspoon of dried oregano, a teaspoon of dried basil and half a teaspoon of chilli flakes. Stir until reduced, adding more water if it gets quite thick. Drain the pasta and stir through the spinach right at the end until it wilts into the tomato sauce. Mix through the pasta and serve with fresh basil if you have it (NB this tomato sauce is great to make ahead and can be used for bolognaise sauce, pizza toppings, curries and any other tomato sauce based dish!)
4. Red bell pepper
Red peppers are a fab source of vitamin C and make a fabulous addition to many dishes (pasta, stir fry, salads etc). This stuffed version is a different way to cook these up (and once you’ve tried it once, you’ll want to keep coming back!)
Stuffed bell peppers: Scoop out the inside of the pepper (seeds etc) and cut in half. Microwave for 4 mins and then remove. Heat the oven to 200C. Take a bag of microwave rice and mix with 1 tsp chilli flakes, 1 tsp dried basil and 1 tsp dried chives. Also add half a jar of chopped olives. Mix together and pop inside the bell pepper. Sprinkle with a bit of cheese (or vegan alternative) and bake for 8-10 mins.
5. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene (which is what gives them that golden glow!) and a rich source of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes can be eaten in many ways, mash, wedges, chips, but a sweet potato jacket is really something special. Try this ultimate winter warmer.
Sweet potato jacket with walnuts and ricotta: Preheat the oven to 200C and prick the sweet potato all over with a fork. Bake for 45 – 55 minutes. When it’s 10 minutes from being done, toast a handful of walnuts in a dry frying pan. Take the sweet potato out of the oven, open it up and season. Add a dollop of ricotta and the walnuts. Eat immediately.
6. Oily fish
Oily fish like tuna, salmon, mackerel, and sardines are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Adding oily fish into the diet is a great way to aid your body in fighting inflammation and boosting the immune system. These salmon parcels are super quick – try with a tuna steak too.
Salmon parcels: Heat the oven to 180C. Take a piece of foil, and place a handful of tender stem broccoli in the middle. On top place the salmon fillet. Add a clove of crushed garlic, sundried tomatoes, one teaspoon of green pesto and a drizzle of olive oil, and then close the foil over the top, like a parcel. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until the salmon is flaking and the broccoli is cooked through. (Broccoli also happens to be very helpful in boosting the immune system!)
Last, but by no means least, the humble almond. This nut so small packs a punch that means it’s essential to this list. You can eat it as is for a snack, or add it to your porridge, smoothie and yogurt bowl in the morning. Almond butter is also a brilliant alternative to peanut butter – you can spread it on toast, crackers, rice cakes and also add to smoothies. Try these almond butter stuffed dates to really satisfy your sweet tooth.
Almond butter stuffed dates: Simply take a packet of medjool dates and cut in half. Scoop one teaspoon of almond butter into the date and pop in the fridge. That’s it! Enjoy at your hearts content.
Which immune boosting food are you going to try first?
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