Cold and flu season is upon us, but you can cook your way to better health and lessen your chances of getting the flu or a cold by eating certain healthy foods. The following list includes simple things that can help your immune system to work at peak performance:
• Get plenty of liquids to help prevent viruses and bacteria from taking up
• Protein is a building block for a healthy immune system. Choose lean red meats, poultry and fish, dried beans and soy.
• Choose foods rich in vitamins C and E. These two antioxidant-rich vitamins protect cells — including those of your immune system.
Choose citrus fruits/juices, melons, mangoes, kiwi, peppers, tomatoes, garlic, berries, broccoli, cabbage, sweet/white potatoes, winter squash, leafy greens, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, whole grains and fortified cereals several times a day.
• Eat probiotic foods to help build up the good bacteria in the intestines. These bacteria play a role in helping fend off illnesses.
• Add a zinc-rich food to your daily diet to increase the production of white blood cells in your body.
Try these flu- and cold-fighting recipes for Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic and Crispy Kale and Quinoa Salad With Yogurt Dressing, and be well this winter.
CHICKEN WITH 40 CLOVES OF GARLIC
6 whole chicken legs or thighs, or a mixture of each
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
40 cloves garlic (about 3 bulbs), peeled
4 stalks celery, thinly sliced
4 sprigs Italian parsley
1 cup (homemade or low-sodium) chicken stock
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Crusty bread or toast for serving
1. Heat oven to 375 F. Season chicken legs with the olive oil, salt, poultry seasoning and black pepper and toss to combine. Arrange the pieces, skin-side up, in a single layer in an ovenproof baking dish with a tight-fitting lid.
2. Scatter the garlic and celery into the gaps between the chicken pieces and arrange parsley on top.
3. Pour in the chicken stock. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and put on the lid. Bake for an hour without removing the lid. Check to see if the chicken is tender, and the garlic is soft. If not, cover and bake for another 15 minutes, and then remove the dish from the oven. Stir in the lemon juice.
4. Serve the chicken with the sauce. Spread the softened garlic on the bread. Serve with Crispy Kale and Quinoa Salad with Yogurt Dressing on the side.
CRISPY KALE AND QUINOA SALAD
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/4 cup dried quinoa
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch kale, stems removed
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1. Heat oven to 400 F. Place 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium sauce pot and set over medium heat. Once oil is hot, add the quinoa and toast for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly.
2. Pour in the stock and stir in the garlic. Cover and reduce heat. Simmer for 18-20 minutes. Once the stock has absorbed and the rings around each seed have separated, remove from heat and keep covered to steam.
3. Tear the kale into small 1-2 inch pieces. Place on a baking sheet and drizzle with the remaining oil. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, garlic powder, cayenne and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. Toss the kale with your hands to coat well. Then spread the kale pieces out on 2 baking sheets in a single layer and bake for about 10 minutes until crisp.
4. Once the quinoa is tender and fluffy, toss with a fork and taste. Season lightly with salt and pepper, if needed. Toss in the crispy kale pieces. They soften over time, so do this at the last minute. Serve warm. Makes 6-8 servings.