There’s a lot of chatter about immune-boosting foods in my social feeds this week, and I get it. Between the time change, the stress of Election week, the colder weather coming in, and (of course) COVID-19 being an ever-present concern, I wouldn’t mind incorporating some more dinners into my meal plan that could help boost our own immune systems.
(Not that I couldn’t go for a nice big dish of mashed potatoes every night and call that dinner!)
So, I’ve done a little research on foods that constitute natural immune boosters — garlic, ginger, turmeric, green tea, citrus, dark leafy greens like kale and spinach — and I put together 5 tasty dinners that include them. And of course, that I think kids will actually like too.
My hope is to get us all some more of the vitamins we need right now to help us fight off cold and flu germs, while keeping us healthy and strong for what might be a lot of really late nights this week. And a lot of really tired mornings.
Bonus: Some of these are even connected to boosts of serotonin, which can put you in a a happier mood and reduce your blood pressure. I think we’ll all be needing lots of that for the rest of the year!
At top: Ramen with Miso Roasted Pumpkin at Serving Dumplings
Related: 10 easy and delicious cold and flu recipes made with natural immune boosters
Let’s start with Meatless Monday. And ginger.
Ginger is loaded with nutrients and so many nutritionists recommend it to boost both you body and brain. The challenge can be working ginger into meals that even your pickiest little eater will devour. Lisa calls this recipe for Sheet Pan Baked Tofu and Veggies from Food with Feeling a favorite for Meatless Monday at her home, and tells me it disappears as soon as it hits the table. That’s a recommendation!
It’s easy to prep, and sheet pan meals are a snap to clean up. (I would definitely like to spend very little time cleaning up this week.) Serve with a side of white rice — with a bit of nori crumbled on top if you want to get fancy.
Since I don’t need any immune-booster excuse to cook with garlic, I am so happy to share this incredible Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic Recipe from Michelle Bessudo. Not only because it’s delicious but because Michelle breaks down exactly why the nutrients in the recipe are so good for you this time of year — from vitamins that boost the immune system, to the protein that rebuilds cells, to the boost in serotonin production.
If you’re looking for a new feel-good meal to get you through fall and winter, add this to your meal plan roster, stat.
Don’t you love when one chicken can get you a week worth of meals? I suggest shredding your leftover chicken from the recipe above, and using it up in this delicious Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup at Chisel and Fork.
The vitamin C from the citrus in this soup is perfect for cold and flu seasons, and did you know lemons can help lower your blood pressure? ( I could use that right now, personally.) Use any pasta your family likes, but I made it with orzo, as recommended, and it was perfect.
Related: The one homemade elderberry syrup recipe you need for cold and flu season.
Tuesday may or not be taco night for you, but when you do serve tacos, why not swap out your go-to recipe for an immune-boosting taco? It may not take too many changes — tomatoes and peppers are rich with Vitamin C, avocado is packed with potassium, and Vitamin E. I’d suggest tossing some chicken or steak on the grill with your favorite Mexican seasoning blends, then prepping this Fiesta Chipotle Kale salad at Simple Seasonal to go with it.
It lets you make use of kale instead of regular lettuce, to provide even more Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and folate…plus, her flavors are all fantastic together!
Okay, I can’t get through this week without another soup, and this Ramen with Miso Roasted Pumpkin at Serving Dumplings is calling my name. Both vitamins B and E are important in fighting off viruses (including the big virus we’re all talking about right now), and miso delivers a big punch of both. Add to that the vitamin C and beta-carotene you get from the fresh pumpkin you probably have lying around right now, the protein from boiled eggs, and…yum.
Even if mine will never look as gorgeous as Anna’s does here!
To prepare this immune-boosting dinner for kids who might be a bit pickier, let them choose which veggies and proteins are added to the flavorful (and fun) noodles. Or, add the miso rub to chicken or tofu instead of pumpkin, if they prefer to carve theirs instead of eating it.