When looking for ways to help your family ward off illness like colds and flu, look no further than your kitchen. By making foods rich in ingredients that are known to boost immunity, you’ll be able to make sure everyone gets enough antioxidants, vitamin C, zinc and probiotics.
Here are some of the foods to look out for, and fresh, easy ways to use them that won’t require much more than a well-stocked fridge or pantry.
Immunity food #1: Blueberries
Blueberries contain anthocyanin, a type of flavonoid that has antioxidant properties and can play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s defense system.
Pic by The Harvest Kitchen
How can I include blueberries in my mealplan?
Yummy fresh blueberries are delicious to snack on as they are. But you can also use frozen and freeze-dried blueberries in:
Pancakes – This recipe by Delicious Little Bites makes the fluffiest pancakes with blueberries in every bite.
Smoothies – The Harvest Kitchen’s Blueberry, Banana and Spinach Smoothie (pictured) is jam-packed with antioxidants.
Muffins – We especially like these Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins by Midget Momma, as yogurt is another immunity booster.
Oatmeal – Live Well Bake Often’s Blueberry Banana Baked Oatmeal is easy to make and will get you through several days worth of breakfasts.
Immunity Food #2: Turmeric
Turmeric, a yellow tuber similar to ginger, is usually used as a spice in cooking. It’s considered an immune booster, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
Pic by Kitchen Konfidence
How can I include turmeric in my mealplan?
Rice – Use this immune-boosting spice in your rice, with My Sequined Life’s Turmeric, Coconut Basmati Rice.
Soup – Our Salty Kitchen’s delicious Turmeric Chicken Soup is an easy dinner that uses up leftover chicken and vegetables in a chicken bone broth base – use low-sodium chicken broth or make your own chicken bone broth.
Smoothie – Get your day going with this Turmeric Banana Smoothie with Ginger by Lemons and Basil.
Stew – Kitchen Konfidence’s flavorsome Spiced Chickpea Stew with Coconut and Turmeric (pictured) calls for an instant pot, but also makes recommendations for a crockpot version – just check comments below recipe.
A note about bone broth:
Though bone broths have become increasingly popular in recent years, they’ve been around for centuries. When cooking broth with bones, you leech important nutrients from the bones, so they really are packed with vitamins and minerals like collagen, iron, and zinc. Bone broths soothe sore throats and support gut health, so make up a pot and use in soups and stews today!
Immunity Food 3: Broccoli
Easy-to-find broccoli is packed with vitamins A, C and E, plus fiber and plenty of other antioxidants such as sulforaphane and glutathione. Get the most out of broccoli’s nutritional value by cooking it as little as possible.
Pic by The Food Charlatan
How can I include broccoli in my mealplan?
Pasta – Pop broccoli florets into some cooked pasta with any other ingredients you have at hand. We love this easy 20-Minute Lemon Broccoli Pasta Skillet (pictured) by The Food Charlatan.
Pasta Sauce – Alternatively, you could blend broccoli with ingredients like parmesan and nuts to make your own pesto. We like this Broccoli Pesto by Cooking For Keeps, which blends roasted broccoli, spinach, hazelnuts, parmesan and garlic.
Fritters – The mama at Cafe Delites tells her kids that her Crispy Broccoli Parmesan Fritters are “Shrek pancakes” and they love ’em. Simply process some basic ingredients, then shape and bake or shallow fry for tasty golden fritters.
Pizza Topping – Green Pizza by Hello Little Home uses broccoli, pesto and artichokes as a pizza topping.
Stir Fry – On the menu tonight is this Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry by Dinner At The Zoo. Pop broccoli florets into any veggie mix, flash fry in some sesame oil and serve with noodles or rice – dinner’s sorted in less than 20 minutes.
Soup – There are plenty of cheesy broccoli soups out there, but if you’re looking for a healthier, cleaner version, this Pureed Broccoli Soup by Eating Well needs only the most basic ingredients. If you have a pantry packed with plenty of health foods, try out Feasting At Home’s Thai Broccoli Soup with Coconut Milk… sooo good!
Immunity food #4: Sweet Potato
Besides tasting so, so good, sweet potatoes are also packed with beta-carotene, which gets turned into vitamin A when eaten, magically ridding you of damaging free radicals.
Pic by Chelsea’s Messy Kitchen
How can I include sweet potatoes in my mealplan?
Baked & Stuffed – Make the family an easy, wholesome lunch of stuffed, baked sweet potatoes, like Simply Quinoa’s vegan-friendly Sweet Potatoes Stuffed with Mediterranean Quinoa, or Feasting At Home’s Asian-style Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Miso, Ginger and Scallions.
Tacos – Add cubed, roasted sweet potato to your usual fillings on Taco Tuesday. This Roasted Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Taco by Plays Well With Butter has a nice spicy kick and is topped with a cashew crema.
Pancakes – Two ingredients are all you need for these Sweet Potato Pancakes by Inspired Recipe.
Curry – Bianca Zapatka’s Sweet Potato, Chickpea and Coconut Curry adds in plenty of other immune boosters like carrot, broccoli, turmeric, garlic and ginger.
Chili – Warm up your soul with this chunky vegetarian Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili (pictured) by Chelsea’s Messy Kitchen.
Salad – Roast sweet potato cubes and add to your favorite salad to make it a filling, nutritious dinner option, like Cook It Real Good’s Roast Sweet Potato, Avocado and Feta Salad.
Mashed – Cookie & Kate balance out the sweetness of the potatoes with savory add-ins like green onions and sour cream – try their Savory Mashed Potatoes as a tasty side.
Immunity food #5: Ginger
Every woman who has ever suffered a bout of morning sickness, has been recommended the antioxidant, ginger. Thought to decrease nausea, ginger is also said to alleviate inflammation, including sore throats, and may lower cholesterol.
Pic by So Much Food
How can I include ginger in my mealplan?
Soup – Look for soups that have ginger as a key flavor base, such as this Miso Ginger Chicken Udon Soup (pictured) by So Much Food, the Ginger Garlic Noodle Soup with Bok Choy by The Forked Spoon, and the classic Roasted Carrot, Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup by Choosing Chia.
Smoothies – Add ground ginger to breakfast smoothies like Fooduzzi’s Ginger Banana Green Smoothie, which also happens to pack in spinach and bananas, and is topped with a sprinkling of oats and chia seeds.
Stir Fry – Whether you have a load of ingredients or very little, there’s a gingery stir fry recipe just for you. If you have a rapidly emptying pantry, try Choosing Chia’s 15-Minute Sesame Ginger Noodles, or Cooking Made Healthy’s Ginger Chicken Stir Fry. Alternatively, you could make Happy Healthy Mama’s Ginger Jasmine Rice as a base for just about any Asian-inspired meal.
Immunity Food #6: Red Bell Pepper
The humble red bell pepper contains twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruit. Also a rich source of beta-carotene, red bell peppers are best served in a stir fry or roasted, which will preserve their nutrient content.
Pic by Life Made Simple
How can I include red bell peppers in my mealplan?
Fajitas – Life Made Simple’s Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas are so quick and easy to make. Prep, roast and serve with your family’s favorite toppings.
Soup – This rich and creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup by Inside The Rustic Kitchen can be eaten hot or cold.
Stuffed – Whether you use ground chicken or turkey, these healthy Italian Stuffed Bell Peppers by Well Plated will taste sublime, thanks to the addition of Italian herbs, grains and mozzarella and parmesan cheese.
Immunity Food #7: Spinach
Spinach really is a super food, packed with plenty of nutrients like folate, as well as fiber, antioxidants like vitamin C, and beta-carotene. To get the most out your spinach, eat raw or lightly cooked, the latter of which will enhance its vitamin A benefits.
Pic by Slimming Eats
How can I include spinach in my mealplan?
Burgers – A healthy burger that’s juicy and tasty? Absolutely. Just try out these Chicken Burgers by Taste And See!
Omelets – Baby spinach and parmesan are the stars of this Baby Spinach Omelet Recipe by All Recipes.
Rice Dishes – Slimming Eats’ One Pot Lemon Garlic Chicken Rice (pictured) flavors spinach and cauliflower with a simple combo of lemon and garlic. This is our family’s Monday night go-to.
Shakshuka – Why not make this shakshuka by The Schmidty Wife for dinner? It packs in the spinach and beans, and is delicious served with a good crusty bread for dipping.
Salads – Use raw baby spinach leaves in salads like this Grilled Eggplant and Spinach Salad by Liffe Healthy.
Though we’ve highlighted the foods that are most likely to be found in the average home, there are plenty of other immune-boosting foods that you can add to your family’s meals:
- Oily fish
- Dark chocolate
- Green tea
- Sunflower seeds
- Oranges and other citrus fruits like grapefruit, tangerines, lemons and limes
- Kiwi fruit
- Dark leafy greens like kale
- Shellfish especially those high in zinc, like crab, clams and mussels
- Wheat germ
- Pomegranate juice
Find more recipes via the Oh Goodie Goodies Pinterest board, Foods That Boost Immunity.