Eat for Immunity

Enjoy your fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables! Citrus fruits - oranges, clementines, nectarines, mandarins, grapefruits - and yellow/red bell peppers contain immune-boosting Vitamin C. Add green leafy vegetables such as spinach, romaine lettuce, and baby kale for folate. Orange and yellow vegetables (think: carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and pumpkin) and fruits (cantaloupe, peaches) contain carotenoids and in turn, Vitamin AMake a smoothie with a peeled orange, frozen peaches, spinach or baby kale, plain yogurt, and a splash of water!

Boost the flavor! Add onions, leeks, garlic, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, and cayenne to your favorite recipes. Onions and garlic have some anti-viral properties that help protect your body. Use fresh salsa as a condiment alongside your grilled chicken or fish! 

Soups are a great vehicle for anti-viral ingredients such as onions and garlic. Try this great chicken soup recipe. Feel free to exchange the cous cous with wild rice, sweet potatoes, or beans! Prefer a vegetarian option? This crockpot minestrone soup is easily adaptable to what you have in your pantry. Don't have pesto? Add more tomato paste, and maybe some extra dried herbs. 

Fill up on fiber! Beans and legumes are fiber-rich, affordable, and adaptable. The fiber found in beans helps clean out bacteria and other buildup found in your intestines, making them a great choice for your immune system. Dried beans and legumes are inexpensive and can be jam-packed with flavor when cooked with onions, garlic, and spices. One 1/2 cup serving of cooked beans can contain up to 8 grams of fiber. Add your cooked beans or legumes to a homemade buddah bowl! Prepare a grain of your choice - quinoa, brown rice, or wild rice - and add 1/2 cup to a bowl. Top with a leafy green or any chopped vegetables you have in your fridge. Add 1/2 cup of your cooked beans or legumes, with some spices that you like. Whip up a quick dressing (or use a storebought version) with 2 tbsp citrus juice and 1 tsp each of spicy chili sauce, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and sesame oil. Drizzle the dressing over your bowl, toss, and enjoy. Recipe adapted from Hurry the Food Up

Cook with your kids. Try an easy recipe, such as this bean salad. Teach them how to make a dressing from scratch, pick cilantro leaves, and carefully chop vegetables. If you are trying to conserve ingredients, reduce the oil by half in this recipe. Add additional vegetables or a grain, such as quinoa, to make the salad more filling. 

Stay hydrated! Avoid or reduce your alcohol intake*. Drink at least 64 ounces - or 8 cups - of water daily. Make flavored water - add sliced citrus or muddled berries, cucumber, and/or herbs. Play around with your flavor varieties using filtered or sparkling water as the base! 

*A note about alcohol: Alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it dehyrates you. Evidence also suggests that frequent alcohol consumption (in large quantities) can suppress your immune system. Under stressful situations such as COVID-19, intake may rise requireing us all to be cautious. 

Eat often! Whether you are working from home or are on the front lines of the pandemic, make sure you are feeding yourself enough and often. Try to aim for 3 meals and 2 small snacks per day, but do what you can! Practice eating mindfully: schedule intentional time to eat, avoid multitasking with television or work, use your senses to smell and taste each bite, and ponder about where your food comes from. Know that it is normal to be eating irregularly during an irregular time. Some people find it helpful to prepare some or all of their meals and snacks in advance to reduce stress! Read more here to start your meal planning journey.

Getting what you need at the grocery store can be tricky, especially if you are trying to keep your pantry well-stocked. Dried and canned beans, rice, and pasta are hard to come by these days, and even when available, there is a purchase limit. Purchase potatoes or yams to use as a starch, or make cauliflower rice. Find artisan pasta online or try zucchini and carrot noodles! Properly stored, carrots and cauliflower can last anywhere from 2-4 weeks in the refrigerator. 

If you, your family, or someone you know is struggling with food insecurity in the Tucson area, please know that there are resources available:

Want to learn more about health and nutrition during this time? Participate in Wellness Wednesdays, offered by University of Arizona Health Sciences. Register here

"Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” - Ruth Reichl