The chill of winter is something that I look forward to every year. There’s nothing more wonderful than snuggling up under my home-knit Giganto blanket, with a good book, a warm cup of tea, and perhaps a chocolate chip caramel cookie. Man I love those winter months.
Unfortunately, winter is a bit rough on my immune system. Without fail, every year I come down with a cold or cough of some sort. This year, I have made it my business to avoid getting sick, so I’m stocking up on the following flu-busting veggies:
The Frenchman in me loves a bit of garlic in my food, but I think I’m going to have to add a lot more this winter if I want to keep those colds away. Garlic is loaded with nutrients that fight both bacteria and fungi, plus the allicin and sulfur give your immune system a boost. The aromatic vegetable is also supposed to reduce the symptoms of cold – can you say “Achoo”? – and they can even clear up congested lungs to get rid of the coughing. Just don’t expect too many hugs from your friends!
I won’t be adding raw garlic to my orange juice, but you can bet I’m going to try this recipe for Roasted Garlic Noodles with Crispy Cauliflower…
As far as tubers go, this is by far my least favorite. There’s something about the starchy sweetness of this veggie that I have a hard time with, but I guess it’s worth having some sweet potatoes – especially when they’re made with roasted grapes, goat cheese, and honey!
Sweet potatoes are loaded with Vitamin A, one of the best antioxidants to protect your body from free radical damage and keep your immune system firing on all cylinders. It’s also rich in Vitamin E, another immunity-boosting veggie.
Bonus: sweet potatoes are great for your heart and circulatory system!
Dark, Leafy Greens
These definitely qualify as some of my favorite veggies, as they combine two of my favorite aspects of the food group: leafiness and green-ness. It’s the rockstars like broccoli, kale, spinach, bok choy, and cabbage that will give your immune system a boost this winter, thanks to the loads of Vitamin A, calcium, folic acid, magnesium, Vitamin C, and Vitamins B2 and B6 they contain.
If you have a hard time eating those dark leafy greens, make them into a shake, or mix them with avocadoes to make a delicious Portobello mushroom stuffing. Even if you don’t like them so much, they’re worth eating – if nothing more than to avoid the sniffles.
What other vegetable can turn your pee purple? None that I know of, which is why beets are just so darn awesome! Aside from their awesome pee-coloring properties, beets are loaded with both Vitamin A and Vitamin C – vital nutrients to kick your immune system into high gear.
You’ll find that beets are also very high in antioxidants, and iron to help your body produce new red blood cells. Iron-deficiencies can lead to a compromised immune system, so eat your beets to keep your immune system in good shape.
The extent of my pumpkin consumption has started and ended at pumpkin pies, as I really HATE this veggie! For those of you who can stomach pumpkin, it’s definitely a veggie to add to the menu this winter. Not only is it rich and supremely warming when turned into a delicious soup – or even pumpkin Mac and Cheese.
The Vitamin A that gives it its orange color is excellent for your immune system, and the zinc that you can eat in the pumpkin seeds will ensure that your immune system is working properly. All in all, it’s a good winter food all around.