If you have followed our blog over the past few months, you are well informed that nutrition is a huge component of immune system health. With Fall around the corner, we’ve compiled our top 5 seasonal foods that specifically support the immune system, with bonus recipes for inspiration. Hello, healthy pumpkin spice latte!
This one is obvious. Late-Fall is typically when oranges are at their ripest. Vitamin C in oranges is an immunity powerhouse, helping to build white blood cells that fight infections. C can also prevent cell damage and lower cortisol, the stress hormone (note: stress can impair the immune system).
Recipe inspiration: Citrus Salad with Balsamic Honey and Pistachios
Originally posted on MyRecipes
1/4 cup pistachios
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
6 navel or blood oranges
8 ounces jicama
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Spread nuts on a shallow pan. Bake at 325° for 8 minutes or until lightly toasted, stirring occasionally.
- Combine olive oil, vinegar, honey, and salt in a jar with a tight-fitting lid; shake to mix well.
- Peel oranges, removing any white pith. Cut each orange crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
- Peel and grate jicama.
- Place oranges on a large serving platter. Sprinkle with jicama and pistachios. Drizzle with vinaigrette; serve salad immediately.
Famous on the thanksgiving table – and also for their antioxidant content. Cranberries (fresh, not served in the shape of a can), contain Vitamins C, K, A, are anti-inflammatory, and contain powerful micronutrients called polyphenols. Cranberries were also found to be uniquely beneficial to the microbiome by protecting gut microbiota and supporting the cardiovascular system, metabolism and immune system.
Recipe inspiration: Healthy Cranberry Sauce
Originally posted on JoyFoodSunshine
1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries, rinsed
¼ cup orange juice
¾ cup apple cider or unsweetened apple juice
½ cup pure maple syrup or honey
¼ cup coconut sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of sea salt
- In a medium sauce-pan, whisk together orange juice, apple cider, maple syrup, and coconut sugar over medium-high heat.
- One mixture comes to a boil, whisk in the cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
- Pour cranberries into the saucepan and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Simmer the mixture uncovered for 10 – 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries begin to pop! (You will literally hear popping noises and the berries will burst open)!
- Using a potato masher, gently mash the cranberries to thicken the mixture. The more you mash, the less chunky the sauce will be—your choice! (if you like extra-smooth cranberry sauce, blend the mixture in your Vitamix until smooth).
- Simmer for another 3 minutes and then turn off heat but leave the pot uncovered on top of the burner to cool and thicken for 20-30 minutes.
- Store in refrigerator in an airtight container!
Pomegranates are well known for their health benefits…and price tag. Fortunately, they’re worth the extra bucks due to their high ratio of immune system supporting Vitamins C and E. They have also been found to have antibacterial and antiviral properties, and play a part in lowering stress levels. Pomegranates are high in flavonoids that can help protect against bone loss and help support endurance activities in athletes.
Recipe inspiration: Cauliflower Salad with Yogurt Sauce and Pomegranate
Originally posted on Food & Wine
Canola oil, for frying
2 medium heads cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pound each), cored and cut into 1 1/2-inch florets (about 16 cups)
2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 cups plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 cup mixed fresh herbs and greens (such as arugula, dill, and chives)
3/4 cup lightly toasted mixed nuts (such as almonds, pistachios, and hazelnuts)
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
- Pour canola oil to a depth of 1 inch into a large skillet. Heat over medium-high until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350°F. Working in batches, fry cauliflower until just golden and tender, about 3 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer cauliflower to paper towels to drain; season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt.
- While cauliflower drains, whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, and garlic in a medium bowl. Season yogurt mixture with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Chill at least 15 minutes or up to 1 hour; remove and discard crushed garlic before using.
- To serve, arrange cauliflower on a platter; spoon yogurt mixture over top. Garnish with herbs and greens, mixed nuts, and pomegranate arils.
Pretty much a staple of fall, whether it be sweet potato pie or fries. Easily distinguishable for its orange hue, signifying a high concentration of beta-carotene that is converted to Vitamin A in the body – a crucial vitamin for immune system health. Beta-carotene was also found to help increase levels of T-cells in the body, which help cells fight infections.
Fall recipe inspiration: Savory Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Parmesan, Garlic & Herbs
Originally posted on Cooking Classy
2 1/2 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled if desired and diced into 1-inch cubes (about 3 medium)
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus more for serving
3 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/3 cup finely grated parmesan
Melted butter or more olive oil, optional
minced (3 cloves yield ~1 1/2 Tbsp or 9 g)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- In a small mixing bowl, stir together olive oil, garlic, and thyme. Place potatoes in a mound on baking sheet, pour mixture over potatoes and season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to evenly coat. Spread into an even layer.
- Roast in preheated oven until tender, tossing once halfway through, about 30 minutes total (you can broil during last 1 – 2 minutes near broiler for more golden brown potatoes).
- Remove from oven, drizzle and toss with more olive oil, then immediately sprinkle with parmesan (if you’d like to fully melt the parmesan just return to broiler for about 1 minute). Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.
Last but far from least, the quintessential Fall vegetable: pumpkin. This idyllic root veg comes with the obvious, orange colored, immune-supporting beta-carotene, but it also contains about 20% of the recommended amount of Vitamin C per serving. Pumpkin is also rich in fiber, which aids digestion and can support weight loss (it’s also 90% water and low-calorie). Stay clear of sugar-laden PSL’s (Pumpkin Spiced Lattes) and opt for a homemade version, or prepare it using its whole food form for optimal benefits.
Fall recipe inspiration: Healthy Pumpkin Spiced Latte
Originally posted on Eating Bird Food
8 ounces brewed coffee (or 1–2 shots of espresso)
1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
3 Tablespoons pumpkin puree
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
sprinkle of cinnamon
- With a handheld frother or blender: In a cup or sauce pan, mix together almond milk and pumpkin. Cook on medium heat on the stove top or microwave for 30-45 seconds. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla, spices and sweetener, place in a cup and use a frother to foam the milk. You can also use a blender — just process for 30 seconds or until foamy. Pour coffee into a large mug, add the foamy milk mixture on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!
- With Breville milk frother: add the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla and maple syrup to your hot coffee. Froth cold almond milk in the Breville milk frother and pour over coffee. Sprinkle with cinnamon and enjoy!