The winter cold and flu season is officially upon us, so now is the time to make sure your diet is rich in vitamin-packed foods to stave off any nasty bugs.
So as your body prepares to do battle against the seasonal viruses, we reveal the Top 5 immune boosting recipes that'll keep you fighting fit...
1. Loaded Lemonade
Lemons and all other citrus fruits are a great source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C strengthens your immune system by enhancing the ability of the cells that are responsible for killing germs in the body. It also helps to make a protein called interferon which destroys viruses.
2 whole lemons
600ml fizzy water
2 tablespoons of fruit or caster sugar
A pinch of
Whizz all the ingredients together in a blender then strain through a sieve into a jug. (Don’t be tempted to push the liquid through the sieve as this will make it taste bitter). Add a little more sugar if required then drink immediately over ice.
2. Seedy Orange and Ginger Oats
All the ingredients in this little breakfast beauty are great for strengthening the immune system. The oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fibre with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities which, according to a recent Norwegian study, may be more potent than Echinacea at repelling the bugs.
It also boosts immunity; speeds wound healing and can even help antibiotics work better. Ginger has long been known to have direct anti-inflammatory effects and the pumpkin and sunflower seeds are excellent sources of Vitamin E and zinc. Vitamin E boosts the immune system by producing interleukin-2, an immune protein that kills bacteria, viruses and even cancer cells and zinc is the ultimate immune supporting mineral.
Serves: 8 – 10
8 tablespoons of oats
2 tablespoons of pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
6 – 8 pieces of stem ginger
Whizz the seeds and ginger together in a food processor until they resemble bread crumbs. Combine the mixture with the oats in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Pour into an air tight container. To serve place 1 – 2 tablespoons into a bowl, add the segments of a peeled Satsuma and pour over a little fresh orange juice. Allow to stand for a couple of minutes before eating.
[Related: The flu jab - should you get it?]
3. Winter Warming, Bug Busting Chicken Broth
If ever there was a recipe to make you invincible this winter, this is it. The chicken stock has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps power up your immune system and relieves symptoms of colds and flu. The chilli and ginger can help promote the production of a potent germ-fighting agent called dermicidin that may help fight off infections. (Dermicidin is transported to the skin's surface through perspiration where it provides protection against invading microorganisms and bacteria). The garlic and onions both contain anti-allergy, antiviral and antihistamine properties as well as sulphur compounds that help to detoxify and the barley is packed full of virus zapping Vitamin E.
500g chicken stock (preferably home-made)
1 thumb sized piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 small red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
3 to 4 carrots, finely chopped
stalk celery, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp barley
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast fillets, chopped (or 2 handfuls of shredded left over chicken from a roast)
1 handful chopped fresh coriander
Sauté the onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, carrots and celery in a medium pan until soft. Add the chicken, barley and stock and bring to the boil then simmer for 30 minutes. To serve ladle into soup bowls and top with the fresh coriander.
4. Rosemary Roasted Almonds
These roasted almonds make a really delicious, nutritious snack and they’re super healthy too. Almonds can guard against viral infections such as the common cold and flu and are also able to reduce inflammation. Whole almonds are particularly beneficial as researchers have found that the naturally occurring chemicals present in the almond skin can fend off viral infections and improve the ability of body’s fighter cells or white blood cells to counteract foreign bodies.
Serves: 8 - 10
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chilli powder
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
Dash of ground black pepper
250g whole almonds
Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Arrange nut mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake in a hot, preheated oven (200 degrees) for 5 - 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. (Keep a careful eye on them and toss the nuts once or twice whilst cooking to prevent burning). Cool to room temperature.
5. Blueberry Maple Fool
According to a study from the University of Vienna in Austria, a daily 7oz dose of yogurt was just as effective in boosting immunity as popping equivalent probiotic pills. Add to that these vitamin C packed blueberries and maple syrup which, apart from tasting divine is a good source of zinc, and you have the perfect breakfast or dessert.
1 x 500g/1lb 2oz pot of good-quality live natural yoghurt
4 tablespoons blueberry jam
2 tablespoons fresh blueberries
8 tablespoons maple syrup
4 sprigs of fresh mint
Divide your yoghurt between 4 dessert bowls or small glasses. Spoon over the blueberry jam, cover with the maple syrup and top with a sprig of mint.
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