“I” is for Immunity Boosters

I thought it might be nice to do a quick post about tasty foods that keep our immune systems in top-notch shape considering the cold/flu season is upon us (those of us in the Northern Hemisphere anyways!). I found this great little book at the library called “The Top 100 Immunity Boosters” by Charlotte Haigh. It was pretty exciting to see plenty of my favorite foods featured in the book. Hooray for veganism!! Can you even believe that there are some fluffnutters out there arguing against plant-based diets? Fools!

I am only going to list my 5 favorite immunity boosting foods otherwise we’d be here all night. Let’s begin, shall we?

1. Curly Kale – Kale was a new discovery for me when I went vegan five years ago. I wish I had known of its existence sooner though because kale is a weekly essential in my meal plan. Kale helps prevent certain forms of cancer, is packed with B-vitamins, keeps cholesterol levels low, encourages wound healing, and contains iron and zinc. Plus, kale tastes amazing and is incredibly versatile in both cooked and raw foods. What’s not to like?!

Sesame Soba Noodles with Calcium-Rich Kale – One of my favorite recipes from Go Dairy Free by Alisa Fleming.

2. Brown Rice – Brown rice is loaded with iron, zinc, fiber, protein, magnesium, and B-vitamins. It helps build resistance to infections, and keeps our brains and nervous systems healthy. Brown rice is a complex carbohydrate so it releases energy slowly. Nifty little grain, huh?

Rice Pilaf with Caramelized Onions from The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

3. Oats – Oats are such a wonderful grain. They are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, B-vitamins, iron and protein. Oats also help lower cholesterol, soothe the digestive tract, and ease stress. I love using oats for homemade granolas.

4. Cherries – I used to have quite an aversion to cherries. I was pretty sure that the only cherries worth eating were those syrup-doused red jewels in tinned fruit cups! Yikes! I’ve come a long way since my childhood. Picking cherries in the summer is one of my favorite activities. Oregon has amazing cherries, especially in the Hood River region.

Cherries are rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, potassium, and ellagic acid (cancer fighting compounds). I usually turn my annual 40-pound cherry bounty into dried fruit, jam, and smoothies. I’ve even been known to make brownies with cherries!

5. Pumpkin – It’s the perfect time of year to appreciate all the benefits of pumpkin. Pumpkins contain vitamin C, beta-carotene, fiber, and carotenoids.  Orange pumpkins are best. Essentially pumpkins can help fight heart disease and viruses, keep your immune system functioning efficiently, and promote healthy digestion. Hooray! Why not enjoy a gluten-free pumpkin bagel (Pumpkin bagels made by Kittee!!)? These beauties are topped with sunflower seeds, which incidentally, are another immunity booster! Sunflower seeds are crammed with B-vitamins, calcium, copper, magnesium, omega-6 fatty acids, and protein. This bagel will shoot you to the moon and back!

What are your favorite immunity boosters?