Sunday, January 20, 2013

Foods for Flu Season & an Easy Recipe

Immune-boosting foods can improve your ability to ward off the flu and other health problems, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Even a small nutritional deficiency can affect the body's ability to stay healthy, said Heather Mangieri, a registered dietitian and academy spokesperson. 
"A strong immune system doesn't guarantee your body can fight off every flu bug, but it is a powerful defense," said Mangieri in an academy news release. "Good nutrition is essential to a strong immune response." 
Mangieri provided the following overview of foods that may boost the immune system: 
-Protein is an essential part of your body's defense system. Sources of protein include seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds. 
-Vitamin A helps prevent infections by keeping the skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, lungs and intestines healthy. This nutrient, found in sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach and red bell peppers, also helps the body regulate the immune system. 
-Vitamin C triggers the production of immune-boosting antibodies. Oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and tangerines are among the foods rich in vitamin C. 
-Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may provide a boost to the immune system. 
People who want to get more vitamin E in their diet should eat sunflower seeds, almonds, sunflower or safflower oil, hazelnuts, peanut butter or spinach. 
-Some believe that zinc, a nutrient found in lean beef, wheat germ, crab, wheat bran, sunflower seeds, black-eyed peas, almonds, milk and tofu, may also improve functioning of the immune system.

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Here's a great recipe I have made.  It's a hit in my home, where it's often hard to get the kids to eat what is good for them.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Almonds

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1in cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fresh thyme, or 3 teaspoons of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or coarse salt
1/2 cup sliced almonds

1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
2.  In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except the sliced almonds, and toss.
3.  Spread potatoes in a single layer on a greased cookie sheet.  Roast until tender in oven until
     slightly browned, about 40 minutes.
4.  In a serving dish, stir together roasted potatoes and almonds.  Serve warm.