Seasonal Immune Boosters

Pears, mushrooms and greens are all in season now, and that's a good thing because they're naturally great for boosting your body's immune system. Just in time! Here are some ideas for easily incorporating them into your diet:

Dark Leafy Greens

Greens are filled with immune-boosting vitamins and minerals and fiber that help feed the good bacteria in your intestine – and good bacteria is a good thing.

  • Colored chard (red stems and veins) is usually a bit milder in flavor than traditional green chard.
  • Toss chopped kale, chard, spinach or collard greens into soups, casseroles and egg dishes.
  • Remove the stems, especially from kale and collard greens, and you drastically reduce cooking time – up to 75%!
  • Cook greens like kale in a small amount of vegetable or chicken stock over low heat until just tender. Drizzle cooked greens with a little extra virgin olive oil to add flavor and richness.
  • Substitute chopped kale leaves (no stems) in a coleslaw recipe. They make a delicious crunchy salad that won't wilt as easily as cabbage.

Featured Recipe: Honeycrisp Apple Spinach Salad With Maple Dressing


Mushrooms

Mushrooms may boost immunity. They contain several substances that appear to stir up the activity of various immune cells.

  • Store loose mushrooms in a paper bag in the refrigerator to keep them as dry as possible. Loose or packaged, they should last 4-5 days.
  • Wait to clean mushrooms until you're ready to use them. To clean, use a soft brush to remove any traces of peat moss or soil.
  • If you want mushrooms to brown, give them plenty of room in your sautÈ pan, otherwise they'll steam. Salt draws moisture out of mushrooms. Save seasoning until the end.
  • To make paper thin slices, place mushrooms on a baking sheet in the freezer for 5 minutes, then slice.

Featured Recipe: Mushroom and Barley Soup


Pears

The fiber in pear skins is great for your intestine and immune system. The fiber feeds the good bacteria in your intestine, pushing out bad bacteria that can make you sick.

  • Check the neck of the pear (around the stem) for ripeness. If it gives to gentle pressure, it is ready to enjoy.
  • Bosc pears are firmer and generally better for cooking than Anjou. Anjou are best enjoyed fresh.
  • To ripen, store pears in a brown paper bag at room temperature. Once ripe, store in the refrigerator for 3-5 days. You can speed ripening by adding an apple or banana to the bag.
  • Slice and toss pears with green salads or slice and serve on sandwiches. (Eliminate or minimize browning by tossing cut pears with lemon or orange juice.)
  • Pears complement many cheeses, including blue, Brie, fresh goat and fontina.
  • Try grilling pears. Peel firm fruit. Brush cut, cored halves lightly with butter. Grill 5-10 minutes until tender. Drizzle with Kowalskiís maple syrup and serve with cinnamon or vanilla ice cream.

Featured Recipe: Pear and Pomegranate Salad

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