New Year Boosters
Eat smart, healthy, and tasty, to avoid the common colds associated with the current time of Year.
As we’re emerging from the depths of winter, it is important to boost the body’s natural defences. Stimulating the immune system helps to fend off the viruses responsible for the colds, ‘flu and bronchitis that often accompany seasonal changes. This is even more important as the years pass and our immune systems become weaker, increasing our vulnerability to viruses and bacteria.
Just as the central heating in your house has to work harder in the winter, so too does your digestive system and metabolism in order to keep your body temperature up. So, naturally, we tend to be hungrier at this time of year and need more energy. This is why people are typically at their heaviest in winter… It is important though to use this extra appetite to serve our immune system.
We need to feed our immune system with ‘living foods’ foods that are fresh and contain natural nutrients. Fruit and vegetables contain so many immune boosting properties that if we adhered to the recommended 5+ servings a day, we would hardly ever get a cold.
Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables. I recommend a ‘rainbow diet’ to ensure you are getting the whole host of nutrients. This means eating produce of every colour of the rainbow because the different colours are as a result of various different nutrients.
In this freezing weather warm home cooked natural foods are the best. Think about your childhood…hot thick stew or soup with home baked brown bread or potatoes. These are the kinds of meals your body wants and needs when its so chilly outside. Good nourishing ingredients and dishes that contain lots of vegetables. Fortunately these meals contain ingredients, which are conducive to a healthy immune system, such as garlic, onions, carrots and beets. The following are some of my favourite winter veggies.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with immune boosting compounds. At the top of the list is beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body. This powerful antioxidant stimulates immune defences against bacterial and viral infections as well as cancer. Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of cholesterol-lowering fibre and are high in vitamin C, which is essential for warding off infection. I love to cut them into chunks, drizzle with a little olive oil, season with a sprinkle of sea salt, cracked black pepper and cinnamon and bake in an oven for about 30-40 minutes or until they are tender.
Kale is a great leafy green vegetable people don’t consider nearly enough. This deep green, leafy vegetable is an overall strengthening food. Kale eases lung congestion, benefits the stomach and is particularly healing to the liver and the immune system. Specifically, kale is rich in calcium, iron and beta-carotene, and is an exceptional source of fibre, potassium, and vitamin C. Sauteed in olive oil with garlic and simmered slowly in some vegetable stock with a sprinkle of nutmeg makes it tender and delicious.
If you’re not too tired of them after the Christmas season, Brussels Sprouts are tiny nutritional powerhouses full of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, protein and fibre! You can steam them, being sure to cut an “x” in the stem so they cook evenly. Roasting is my favorite method of preparation. Cut the bigger ones in half, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and roast until tender.