Boost Your Immune System With These 3 Easy Recipes

Travel from Europe suspended. Stockpiling toilet paper and bottled water. And – perhaps most alarming of all – the NBA has suspended the season indefinitely.

Coronavirus is sweeping the globe and I must admit I’m not sure what to believe. Is it really that bad? Is it worse than we’re being told? Is it less bad than the flu or is this some crazy supervirus that has escaped from a laboratory in China? We don’t know what to believe but it looks like the poo has hit the fan and it’s time to take cover…especially if you’re over 65, have underlying health conditions, or a compromised immune system.

A strong immune system helps keep you from getting sick and helps you recover faster from bacterial and viral infections. As you sit at home, surrounded by mountains of toilet paper, why not try some of my favorite immune-boosting recipes?

healing rooibos tea

What's in it

4 cups (1 L) filtered water

4 teaspoons (20 mL) loose rooibos tea, or 4 rooibos tea bags

1 to 2 lemon slices, seeds removed

1- to 2-inch (2.5- to 5-cm) piece turmeric root, peeled and sliced

2- to 3-inch (5- to 8-cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

Sweetener, to taste (optional)

One of my favorite recipes from one of my favorite chefs, Angela Liddon, healing rooibos tea is chock-full of anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antibacterial foods.

Why you need it

Ginger contains more than 60 trace minerals, over 30 amino acids, and more than 500 enzymes and coenzymes working together calm physical reactivity. It is antiviral, antibacterial and anti-parasitic and has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to promote circulation and treat phlegm in the lungs.

Turmeric contains curcumin, a strong anti-inflammatory and antiviral phytochemical. It also contains manganese which plays a key role in nutritional immunity. Peeling and slicing turmeric root can be a pretty colorful affair, so I usually wear surgical gloves to protect my fingers and fingernails from turning an intense shade of orange.

Lemons are remarkably healing fruits. In contrast to many supplements, vitamin C in lemons is highly absorbable and bioavailable. They contain antioxidant flavonoids to help fight disease and – once you’re already sick - lemon is one of the most effective mucus expellers around.

Rooibos is a naturally sweet red tea that is known to possess antiviral properties. It contains high amounts of quercetin, which fights viruses and keeps inflammation at bay.

How to make it

To make the tea, combine water, rooibos tea, lemon slices, turmeric and ginger in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add sweetener to taste. Serve hot or over ice.

thirty-clove garlic soup

What's in it

2 heads garlic, halved crosswise

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups vegetable stock 8 ounces

Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped

¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving

Salt and pepper to taste

Why you need it

Garlic is antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-parasitic. It fights colds and the flu and is a powerful immune booster, thanks in large part to the phytochemical allicin which gives garlic its pungent smell.

Olive oil is also beneficial to the immune system thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties and high levels of antioxidants.

How to make it

I will admit I was wary to try a recipe with the words “thirty-clove garlic” in the name. It just seemed – well – like a ridiculous amount of garlic. But when my husband returned from California with an upper respiratory infection, I whipped up a batch…and it was love at first bite. Or spoon. Whatever.

This soup is pretty simple to make and it is brilliant for when the immune system needs a boost. Check out the full details on I recommend making a double batch and freezing what you don’t eat right away! It’s delicious and roasting the garlic really tones the flavor down nicely.

immunity-boosting tomato sauce with mushrooms

What's in it

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 sweet onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups sliced cremini mushrooms

½ cup fresh packed basil, chopped

1 (28-oz/793-g) can whole or diced tomatoes, with juices

6 to 8 tablespoons (90 to 125 mL) tomato paste

½ to 1 teaspoon (2 to 5 mL) sea salt, to taste

1 ½ teaspoon (7 mL) dried oregano

½ teaspoon (2 mL) dried thyme

¼ teaspoon (1 mL) red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper (optional)

2 tablespoons (30 mL) chia seeds (optional)

1 cup (250 mL) cooked lentils (optional)

Why you need it

Onion contains the phytochemical allicin and the antioxidant quercetin, making it highly antiviral. It’s also immune-boosting thanks to the high amounts of selenium, zinc and vitamin C.

The recipe calls for cremini mushrooms, but you can use any type you like. Since cremini aren’t known to be antiviral, you might consider using maitake, shiitake, or reishi mushrooms instead. All three varieties of mushrooms contain beta-D-glucans and beta-glycosides, which stimulate the immune system.

Basil also fights viral infections, thanks in large part to compounds like apigenin and ursolic acid. Apigenin is a flavonoid that helps fight against influenza and other viruses while ursolic acid is a pentacyclic triterpenoid that has been shown to exhibit antiviral activity.

Tomatoes are powerful immune boosters that pack a powerful dose of antioxidant vitamins including beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.

Chia seeds help regulate your body’s inflammatory response and boost your immune system, while lentils are rich in polyphenols, which are known to promote immunity to foreign pathogens.

How to make it

Another of Angela Liddon’s standout recipes from my go-to cookbook, Oh She Glows, this meatless tomato sauce is incredibly flavorful. My kids hate mushrooms – and there are tons in this recipe – but thanks to my handy dandy food processor, they’re none the wiser. Great served over pasta or whatever substitute or variant you like to use. The ingredient list is a little bit longer, but the recipe is pretty un-fussy.

Cook the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat until onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms (if you have picky eaters, first pop the mushrooms in a food processor and dice them tiny-tiny) and cook for 5 or 10 minutes, until most of the liquid is cooked off. Add the rest of the ingredients (again, I usually put the canned tomatoes through my food processor first to avoid suspicious questions from children) and cook over medium for 15-20 minutes. Serve over pasta or zucchini noodles.

Happy eating and be well!

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© 2018 - 2020 by Tamara Claunch