Runny noses, aches and chills, and violent coughing fits are not how you imagined spending your fall season. Yet, there you are, under the covers and cold to the bone. Not hungry. No energy. Wondering what you’re going to do with your bland expanse of sick days before you’re ready to leave the house again.
You could cook something. Even if nothing sounds good, food is a magical thing. It can actually work to nourish you and boost your immune system — meaning less time at home, wishing your nose would clear out so you could breathe again, and more time outside enjoying that gusty fall air.
There are at least a dozen healthy foods on our list of foods to boost your immunity. These recipes are loaded with all of them. Make a few of these and your immune system will get the help it needs, either to ward off future illness or cure the one that’s raging right now. And not to brag or anything, but we’re not recommending you guzzle gross green juice — these recipes taste pretty good, too.
You should really be eating salmon all year round, but it’s especially important during flu season. The omega-3 fatty acids increase the activity of macrophages, the white blood cells that annihilate bacteria in your body.
Breakfast in bed, anyone? It gets even cozier with the nourishing antioxidants and vitamin C-filled glaze. But who could forget the most important part — the food for the soul: pancakes!
Broccoli, and its various vegetable relatives, is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber. All of these nutrients can boost your mood and your immunity through this chilly, dark season.
It’s not an urban legend. Chicken noodle is not messing around when it comes to warding off the flu. A steaming bowl of nourishing soup has been proven to actually really make a difference in your immune response when you’re sick — plus, the nostalgia will lift your spirits while you’re stuck indoors.
Protein helps to build immunity by stimulating your immune system with amino acids. Chicken provides a lean source of protein, while the garlic works its magic. The parsley and garlic combo takes the taste to a not only palatable, but delicious level. You’ll have an appetite in no time.
Joy of Kosher
Vitamin C is the classic remedy for colds and flu — and it works. The vitamin helps spur the production of white blood cells, and can strengthen your immunity as a result. If you’re bored of eating oranges, cooking with citrus is a great way to spice things up. The carrots also add beta-carotene, which is helpful for your immune response as well.
Sitka Salmon Shares
Oranges provide the vitamin C, scallions provide the flavor, and the cod provides the protein. It’s a triple threat against the flu season. Ginger helps to decrease inflammation, alleviating discomfort if you’re already sick.
This soup recipe is perfect for if you’re feeling under the weather. It’s easy to make, easy to digest, and packs so much nutrition in just one bowl. The beta-carotene, inflammation-fighting ginger, and revitalizing orange combine for the perfect blend for flu season.
If you’re looking for a simple, healthy, and flavorful way to cook salmon, look no further than your grill. The cooking process will get you outside, too, which is essential for keeping your health up and your spirits high. The tomatoes, salmon, and spicy flavors will kick up your white blood cell activity once you’re ready to eat.
Jessica Goldman Foung
We know potatoes get a bad rap when it comes to health foods, but they’re actually really great for you. They provide healthy carbohydrates alongside some fiber and other nutrients, giving your body the easily-digestible nutrition it needs when you’re sick. The leafy greens and healthy fats from pumpkin seeds provide your immune system with an added boost, as well.
Indian spices are known for their health- and metabolism-boosting power. Tomatoes, rich with lycopene, are essential for providing immune support. Get cozy in some fuzzy socks and curl up with a bowl until you’re feeling well again.
If you’re not a seafood lover, it’s time to rethink your choices. Shrimp is not only tasty and low-calorie, it’s also filled with lean protein, carotenoids, selenium, and vitamin B12. The more nutrition the better — and the more citrus the better, too. That makes this the perfect healthy meal for a sick day.
Leafy greens such as kale are exactly what your body needs right now — for the fiber, nutrients, and also the vitamin C. Romaine lettuce might taste less bitter, but it’s not going to do your immune system any favors. Blending the stalks into hummus is a great way to mask the taste while still reaping the benefits. This recipe also uses a ton of garlic — another immune-boosting pro.
Sardines might sound gross, but you should really give them a chance. They’re so good for you — packed with healthy fats and protein. The lemongrass provides a zing of flavor and alertness while the tomatoes work their health-boosting magic.
The dark meat from turkey actually could be better for you than the light for a whole host of reasons — but one of them is your immunity. Turkey is a great source of zinc and selenium, both of which boost your body’s defense system and increase production of white blood cells. The citrus flavor is not only refreshing, but adds a kick of vitamin C to your meal.
This dish is literally all vegetables. Spaghetti squash is a healthful alternative to otherwise flour-heavy pasta. The fiber and nutrients in this dish will leave you feeling amazing and satisfied.
Spicy foods do a fantastic job of clearing your sinuses, and tomatoes contain the amino acid lycopene, which aids the body’s natural defenses against harmful free radicals. Trust us, you want that. Whip up a batch of hot tomatillo salsa and chase your illness away for good.
Both broccoli and tomato need to be on your table. Their nutrients are the perfect powerhouse to fuel your body and your bacteria-attacking cells during this season. These tarts are a particularly flavorful and fun way to serve both — and they make adorable appetizers.