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Winter doesn't have to mean the misery of colds, flu and other viral infections if you feed your body what it needs to fight them off.
A run-down body that is out of balance internally and externally provides an inviting environment for viruses to come in and stay for a while. While it is difficult to live in a society and not come into contact with the multitude of germs that are literally everywhere during the winter months, you can reduce your own susceptibility and strengthen your immune system by simply choosing the right foods to put on your plate.
Eat leafy greens every day. Kale, spinach, seaweed and algae are excellent sources of vitamin D, the immunity-booster we usually get from sunshine in the summertime. Along with contributing to a stronger defense against coughing colleagues, recent studies indicate that higher vitamin D levels can benefit ailments as diverse as osteoporosis and multiple sclerosis.
Include kiwis, grapefruit or orange juice in your daily routine. All are great sources of vitamin C, the antioxidant we've known for decades to be powerful in fighting colds and flu. It's also found in cabbage, bell peppers, tomatoes, cayenne pepper and broccoli.
Snack on almonds and sunflower seeds. Not only do they supply vitamin E, an antioxidant that fights off free radicals and keeps skin soft and young-looking, but they are a great source of essential fatty acids to keep body systems running smoothly.
Enjoy your garlic! The stinky bulb was once worn in a garland to ward off disease, a superstition that actually has scientific basis as eating garlic can provide a variety of health benefits, including a boost to the immune system that can help ward off nasty bugs. Besides, eating garlic usually ensures that people keep a bit of distance – always a desirable action for avoiding contagion with a flu virus!
Spike it with ginger. Ginger, long used as a folk remedy, can open nasal passages, soothe nausea and help the immune system work.
Finally, don‘t overlook the power of complex carbohydrates from whole grains, sweet potatoes and beans. Our bodies need complex carbs for energy, and when not enough are present it begins cannibalizing other tissues for the power needed to function. This creates a deficit somewhere else in the body, weakening the defenses along the line and opening a toehold for invading germs.
Try this easy, immunity-boosting one-pot meal full of cold- and flu-fighting foods. Eat it in good health!
Cajun Fish with Spinach
2 med. sweet potatoes
1/2 onion, peeled and sliced thinly
1/2-3/4 lb. white fish (catfish, sole, cod, halibut, tilapia...)
Creole or Cajun seasoning
3-5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
4 cups spinach or kale leaves, chopped roughly
8 small Roma tomatoes, washed & quartered
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray inside of 4-quart cast iron Dutch oven and underside of lid with olive oil or canola oil spray.
Scrub sweet potato well and cut out any bad spots or eyes. Slice into 1/2" rounds.
Line base of pot with onions. Wash fish and pat dry with paper towels. Lay the fish over the onions in the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle the top side liberally with Cajun seasoning mix according to taste. Layer potatoes, garlic, onions, and tomatoes, interspersing sprinkles of spices as desired. Top with spinach. Pack in as many vegetables as possible without compromising the seal when the lid is closed.
Cover and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until fish flakes easily. You should smell the aroma wafting from the oven that tells you everything is done. Wait 3 minutes until it is more of a full-bodied, finished meal aroma. Serve immediately.
Elizabeth Yarnell is a Certified Nutritional Consultant, MS patient, inventor and author of the award-winning cookbook, Glorious One-Pot Meals: A new quick & healthy approach to Dutch oven cooking. Her recipes are protected by US patent 6,846,504. Visit Elizabeth online and subscribe