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Sitting at the dinner table on Sunday evening was a common practice in my household. It was always a great time to catch up on everyone’s week and spend some quality time together. We’d often dig into a hearty meal that was nourishing, nutritious, and good for our immune systems! A lovely roast chicken dinner brings back these memories. With a soup or salad, some roasted veggies, and a yummy dessert (in the fall, pumpkin pie was the winner!), it was a complete meal that not only tasted great, but was healthy, too.
So, why are we talking about this? Well, nutritious foods give the body the extra energy it needs to allow the immune system to fight off illnesses or infections. Ensuring we eat foods high in nutrients will help support our immune system and provide a better defence against the season’s ailments.
If you’d like to know more, check out our blog post on “How Your Gut Health Affects Your immunity.”
In today’s blog post, I’d like to share some easy immune-boosting recipes for a complete 4-course fall meal that’s delicious and comforting, and will keep your immune system healthy.
Immune-Boosting Roasted Brussels Sprouts Caesar Salad
Brussels sprouts are packed full of nutrients and are high in vitamin C, which is an antioxidant for immune health, among its other benefits.
Yield: 4 servings
1½ lb brussels sprouts
2 tsp olive oil
1 can chickpeas, drained and dried
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
½ tsp garlic powder
A pinch of sea salt
For the dressing:
¼ cup Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
3 anchovies, chopped to a paste
2 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup grated parmesan
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of freshly cracked pepper
Preheat oven to 400° F (204° C). Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
Toss the chickpeas with ½ teaspoon of olive oil, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and sea salt and place them on 1 of the prepared baking sheets. Roast them in the oven for 30–40 minutes, occasionally mixing, until they are mostly dry. They will continue to dry and crisp as they cool.
Cut the brussels sprouts in half and place them on the other prepared tray. Drizzle them with the remaining 1½ teaspoons of oil and sprinkle the sea salt on top. Mix the brussels sprouts, so all pieces are covered in oil. Bake for 25 minutes, mixing halfway. You can bake the brussels sprouts and the chickpeas at the same time!
While the chickpeas and brussels sprouts are cooking, prepare the dressing. Add the Greek yogurt to a medium-sized bowl with lemon juice, Dijon mustard, anchovies, and garlic. Whisk in the oil very slowly, starting with just a few drops at a time, until the dressing is smooth and creamy. Stir in the parmesan cheese and season with sea salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste.
To assemble, combine the roasted chickpeas and brussels sprouts, and toss with the dressing. Serve with extra lemon slices and a little extra parmesan on top.
(Recipe adapted from theendlessmeal.com)
Carrot Ginger Immunity Soup
Soup is a great dish to warm you up on a cold fall day. Not only is it simple to put together, but it’s also an easy way for you and your family to eat more vegetables. This recipe is plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free, and provides a host of vitamins and minerals. Carrots, turmeric, and ginger all contain immune-boosting properties, so combining them into one delicious dish makes this the ultimate soup for your immune health!
Carrots contain beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, which plays an essential role in immune function.
Turmeric contains curcumin, a nutrient that has been tied to many health benefits, including immunity.
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, can play a role in immune health, and can help clear out those sinuses naturally!
Onions have prebiotic properties, which help feed the good bacteria in the gut. Gut health is very important to a healthy immune system.
Garlic is packed with vitamins and nutrients that support our body’s immune system and help fight off illness.
Yield: 4–6 servings
2 Tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed or to taste
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 lb carrots, peeled and diced
1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 cups vegetable broth
½ tsp kosher salt
1 cup full-fat coconut milk
A pinch of freshly ground pepper
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Heat a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, garlic, onion, and carrots and sauté for 5–7 minutes, until soft. Then add the ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper and sauté for another 1–2 minutes.
Add the vegetable broth and salt. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 20 minutes.
Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it’s a smooth consistency. Stir in coconut milk and season with freshly ground pepper.
Herb Lemon Garlic Roast Chicken with Potatoes for Immune Health
A serving of chicken is about the size of your palm and the thickness of a deck of cards and contains a whopping 18 g of protein! Protein is responsible for making antibodies to help our bodies fight infections. Chicken is also a rich source of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamins C, D, E, and K, as well as the B-complex vitamins including B12 and folate.
Potatoes can also support a healthy immune system because they are rich in nutrients, such as vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins. They provide beneficial fibre (prebiotics) for gut health, playing a key role in overall immune health.
Yield: 6 servings
2 Tbsp olive oil
5–6 medium potatoes of any kind, peeled and roughly chopped
4–5 medium carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 small onions, roughly chopped
1 4–5 lb whole organic chicken
A pinch of salt and ground black pepper
A pinch of garlic powder
4 Tbsp butter or olive oil
1 large lemon, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, cut into 3 large pieces
Preheat oven to 385° F (196° C).
Add olive oil in a large bowl, then toss potatoes, carrots, celery, and ¾ of the chopped onions in the oil to coat. Set remaining onion aside. Transfer oiled vegetables to a large skillet.
Rinse chicken and pat thoroughly dry with paper towels. Generously season the chicken inside and out with salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Place the remaining ¼ of the chopped onions, 2 tablespoons of butter, lemon slices, 1 minced clove garlic, and 3 large pieces of celery into the chicken cavity.
Place the chicken on top of the oiled vegetables, and scatter the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1 minced clove garlic in small amounts around the vegetables.
Roast chicken and vegetables in the preheated oven until the skin is browned and crisp, the vegetables tender, and an instant-read meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken thigh reads 165° F (75° C). It will take 50–90 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken and oven. Let chicken rest for 15 minutes before carving and serving with vegetables.
Pumpkin Immunity Bites
Pumpkin is a delicious and nutritious fall staple that adds wonderful flavour to your dishes. These energy bites will satisfy your pumpkin spice craving without the added sugar that other pumpkin treats are filled with.
Pumpkin purée (or canned pumpkin) is a great option when looking to use pumpkin as an ingredient, as it is rich in fibre and vitamins A, C, and E, and potassium.
In addition to the pumpkin, the ingredients used in these bites include cashews, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and nut butter, which are good sources of healthy fat, protein, fibre, and vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, and iron. Lastly, I’ve added grated ginger to the recipe to give it a kick – and it is also great for digestion!
(Recipe adapted from onceupapumpkinrd.com)
½ cup almond flour
2 scoops vanilla protein powder
½ cup pumpkin purée (if available, choose organic canned pumpkin)
½ cup nut butter
2 Medjool dates, pitted
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
¼ cup raw cashews
¼ cup raw pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp ground flaxseed
1 Tbsp hemp seeds
2 tsp chia seeds
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (optional)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
A pinch of sea salt
Place all ingredients into a food processor, then pulse together until the mixture is chunky, but well incorporated and sticks together when shaping.
Use a tablespoon, mini cookie scoop, or your hands to portion out the bites. Enjoy right away or refrigerate first for 30 minutes.
Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. You can also store bites in the freezer and pull them out when you want a snack!
The fall season is a wonderful time to turn to comforting yet healthy dishes. Whether you try these recipes individually or prepare them all together, you’ll find them to be nourishing, satisfying, and full of flavour. To top it off, these dishes are great for your immune system, making them perfect to prepare as we head into the cold and flu season.
Joyce Johnson ND (Inactive)
Dr. Joyce Johnson is a licensed Naturopathic Doctor and natural health and lifestyle expert with 18 years of experience in the natural medicine field.