Winter Wellness Part 1 - Boost your immune system

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Feeling a bit run down? Fearful of succumbing to the grisly lurgy? Then cooking with these key immune boosting ingredients might just save the day! These alliums, herbs and spices pretty much form the basis of all of my cooking during the winter months, whether it’s in a soup, a curry, a risotto or a marinade. I also stock up the freezer with dishes containing these ingredients so that when the dreaded cold bugs take hold and I don’t have the energy to cook, I know I have a warming and nourishing meal to hand. 

I usually avoid taking medicines unless of course, it’s absolutely necessary, so I like to try to treat a cold more naturally. They are loaded with anti inflammatory, anti bacterial and anti viral properties that help our immune systems fight off those pesky microbes.  And thankfully, it’s not difficult because they make deliciously tasty meals too!  The fragrant and warming ginger, turmeric and chilli pack a real Thai flavour punch; and the garlic, onion and lemon is just a deliciously citrusy classic combination. 

Below is a list of ingredients to help boost our immune systems and some information as to why they are so important.

Immune Boosting Ingredients

Garlic is a powerful anti-microbial food and it many of its benefits are thought to be due to allicin.  This is a sulphur-containing compound that strangely enough is actually stimulated by chopping or crushing garlic, which is great news.  Although the bad news is that the cooking process can inhibit some of garlic’s medicinal properties so it’s actually even better for you if you can stomach eating it raw!!

Ginger has a long history of being used medicinally to reduce nausea, help with digestion and to fight the flu and common cold.  The active constituent of ginger is a very potent anti inflammatory compound called gingerol that is especially helpful at fighting infections in the respiratory tract. 

Turmeric is really so interesting to learn about and has some of the most reliable scientific backing when it comes to its alleged super powers. The active ingredient in turmeric is called Curcumin and it has potent antioxidant capabilities that have been shown to help with a whole variety of health concerns, from arthritis, to digestive problems and even cancer. Western medicine has begun to study turmeric as a pain reliever, as an anti-inflammatory, and as a healing agent. Curcumin has shown promise as having both protective effects against cancer and even potential as a cancer treatment itself. 

It is important to get in plenty of Vitamin C rich foods, particularly when we are feeling run down.  And luckily, an easy way to increase the antioxidant protection from our diet is by adding some antibacterial lemons to just about anything!  But don’t forget to use the rind too - I zest an unwaxed lemon and squeeze it’s juice into hot drinks, salads, marinades, soups and steamed veggies.

The humble onion is pretty much found lurking in every kitchen cupboard, and many of their health benefits are attributed to their antioxidants and sulphur-containing compounds. They are a member of the Allium family (like garlic, leeks, shallots and chives), and it’s worth noting that the red and yellow varieties are much richer in antioxidants than their white onion sisters. 

So let’s tell all of those germs to p*ss off and never to return again!

Go and check out the following recipes that are perfect to stock up on when you start to feel poorly.

  • Turmeric Tofu & Gyoza Broth (Dinner)

  • Turmeric & Lemongrass Fish Curry (Dinner)

  • ‘Anti Flu Season’ Ginger & Carrot Soup (Soup)

  • Miso & Turmeric Tofu (Dinner)

  • Warming Turmeric & Quinoa Lentil Risotto (Lunch)

  • Thai Lemongrass & Turmeric Stew (Soup)

  • Gut Healing Lemony Chicken Spelt Soup (Soup)

  • Chunky Thai Turmeric Chicken Soup (Soup)