3 Delicious Recipes to Strengthen Your Immune System This Season
Brierley Horton, M.S., RD is a dietitian nutritionist, content creator and strategist, and avid mental health advocate. She is co-host and co-creator of the Happy Eating podcast, which breaks down the connection between food and mental wellness.
If you’re anything like me, you’re doing everything possible to dodge cold, flu, and COVID germs. (Having two elementary school-aged kids only fuels my determination.)
But there’s only so many immune-boosting supplements I can take—or force upon my children. It’s also a lot easier (whether I’m sneaking it in or being overt) when the delivery device is food. And—yes—it’s also an occupational hazard as a registered dietitian. I love a food-first approach.
Why is this important? A strong immune system is your best defense against cold and flu season. The stronger your immunity, the better it can fight off invading bacteria and viruses like the cold and flu. And when you get those immune-boosting nutrients in the form of a food (versus a supplement), it has the power to be that much more beneficial for your body. Nutrition researchers call it ‘nutrient synergy’—the combined effects of two or more nutrients working together have a greater impact on the body than when each nutrient is consumed individually.
The best news is that there are plenty of delicious recipes to be cooked that are packed with immune-supporting nutrients. Some of which you can sneak right under your family’s noses. Here, I’ve rounded up some of my favorite Cabot recipes to help you keep your (and your family’s) immune system humming along this winter season.
Read on for the recipes—and to learn what it is about each recipe that is so healthy!
Cauliflower Wings with Buffalo Yogurt Dip: The best part about this recipe is that it pulls double duty: serve it as a shared dish for a group (hello, Game Day eats!) or as a veggie side dish to dip into at the dinner table. But when it comes to immune health, this dish is packed with vitamin C, and that’s key for bolstering your immune system (as well as supporting things like wound healing, overall skin health and iron absorption—another important nutrient for immunity). And also, cruciferous veggies, like cauliflower and broccoli, have other compounds in them that have been shown to support immunity and lower inflammation.
Hot Italian Cheddar Dip: This one is a crowd pleaser (aka you can help your friends pump up their immune systems, in addition to your family). Did you know that cheese and cream cheese both deliver healthy doses of zinc? And while digging into a cheesy dip doesn’t promise that you won’t get sick, research has shown that when you pump up your zinc intake at the first signs of an illness, you could reduce the number of days you’re sick.
Don’t skip the toppings either—tomatoes and basil both add vitamin C, which we’ve already talked about as being helpful for your immunity.
Blueberry Yum Yum Smoothie: A smoothie inherently screams good for you, but here’s why this one will give your immune system a boost. First, the main ingredient is blueberries, and some newer research suggests that compounds in berries may have antiviral properties. Second, the probiotics in the yogurt in this recipe offer another immune boost. Lastly, the dates in this smoothie deliver iron—and newer research suggests that iron supports our immune system starting in our gastrointestinal tract.
- Nutrient synergy: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10600480/
- Cruciferous vegetables: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10376324/
- Zinc and immunity: https://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/11/11/e047474.long
- Iron: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20878427/
- Probiotics: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9818925/
- Berries: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8750760/