People often talk about ways to boost, strengthen or improve our immune system to fight off diseases. Given its complexities, there is still much that researchers don’t know about immune response. Researchers are still exploring the effects of age, diet, exercise, psychological stress and some others on the immune system, but of this, they are certain: the immune system is precisely that, a system, not a single entity and to function well it requires balance and harmony.
Choosing a healthy lifestyle by following general good health guidelines is the single best step researchers all agree we can take towards keeping our immune system healthy and balanced. Here are some steps we can take to help reach this balance:
- take steps to avoid infection: stay away from sick people, wash your hands frequently, and cook your meats thoroughly
- don’t smoke
- exercise regularly
- maintain a healthy weight
- drink alcohol only in moderation
- try to avoid stress
- get adequate sleep
- eat a healthy diet
Instead of buying vitamins and food supplements, which often don’t have any impact on our immune system, try to incorporate more of these foods in your daily meals:
- red bell peppers
- citrus fruits
- sunflower seeds
- green tea
- oily fish
- dark chocolate
- sweet potatoes
Whether you refer to them as super foods, immune boosters, or just healthy ingredients, they certainly all make for a good, home cooked meal.
Here are our suggestions for an autumn comfort lunch or dinner, side dish, midday snack and dessert. They are as healthy as colorful and very easy and fast to make!
Chicken and Bell Peppers Skillet
Delicious on its own, but it goes well with rice, quinoa, couscous, mashed cauliflower and different types of salads. Bonus: it’s ready in 30 minutes and is low carb, paleo and whole30 friendly!
- 4 free range organic chicken thighs, bone-in and skin-on, they can be replaceable by chicken breasts
- salt and black pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of paprika powder, 1 tablespoon of italian seasoning herbs and 1 tablespoon of garlic powder OR spices according to your own taste
- 2 large bell peppers, one red, one orange, sliced
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 teaspoon garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika powder
- a few grounds of crushed red pepper or few chilli flakes
- salt and black pepper
Place chicken and all the seasoning for the chicken in a large bowl. Mix everything well to combine. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat in the stove. Add olive oil to skillet. Add chicken, skin side down and cook 4-6 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken and cook for 1 minute. Set aside. ( chicken is not cooked yet)
Remove skillet from the heat and add bell peppers, onion, garlic, paprika, red pepper grounds or chilli flakes and salt and pepper. Stir everything well. Put chicken on top of peppers and onions and place the skillet in the pre-heated oven. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for 15-20 minutes or until chicken gets the internal temperature of 75 degrees Celsius.
Kale, Blueberry, and Pineapple salad
- 300 g kale leaves, chopped
- 100 grams blueberries
- 100 grams chopped pineapple
- 40 ml homemade salad dressing – a lemon or balsamic vinegar vinaigrette would work wonderfully here!
- 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
Remove the stem from each kale leaf and rip the leaves into small pieces.
Place them in a large bowl with the dressing and toss them for at least 2-3 minutes.
Top with blueberries, pineapple, and feta cheese and serve.
( 2 servings)
Turmeric Brown Rice
- 1 cup brown rice
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
- 4 cloves
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil, cover with the lid and cook for 40 minutes ( or according to instructions on brown rice container) and serve. Yes, that easy!
Dark Chocolate, Peanut, and Strawberry Bars
This recipe is no-bake, vegan, gluten free, and low carb. You can use any other fruit, like blueberries, blackberries, mango or anything that’s in season. You can also substitute peanuts with cashews, almonds or even oatmeal.
- 220 grams dark chocolate ( at least 75% cocoa) bar, chopped
- 240 grams peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon honey ( use natural sweetener if you want it to be very low carb)
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, solid form
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 300 grams unsalted roasted peanuts
- 6 small strawberries
Put peanut butter, chocolate, honey and coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl.
Heat it at 50%, power for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir. Put back into microwave and repeat, stopping to stir every 15 seconds, until the mixture is totally melted.
Add vanilla extract and peanuts and stir until all the ingredients are well combined.
Put into a 25x 25 cm removable bottom pan.
Top with strawberry slices, make sure they are at least 2 centimeters apart from each other.
Refrigerate until chocolate hardens, usually it takes about 4 hours.
Slice into square pieces and store in the refrigerator. Enjoy!
We hope this inspires your next meal – your immune system will thank you!
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