September 21, 2012

Natural Renewal: Immune Boosting Food

Posted by Ana Elisabeth

Note from Kristin: I'm very happy to introduce PEC's first guest post by nutritionist and blogger Ana Elisabeth from Natural Renewal. Ana is a wealth of knowledge and inspiration when it comes to healthy eating and lifestyle choices (some of which I've shared here and here). We can't wait to have you back Ana!

Anytime the seasons change, I start to think about eating foods that boost my immune system. Food is our number one line of defense against acute and chronic disease. Smart and healthful food choices carry more weight and importance than prescription drugs or quick fixing, over the counter cold remedies.

Make a big batch of this satisfying Sweet and Tart Swiss Chard Salad to boost your immunity.

One of the best things you can do to optimize your health, decrease your risk for chronic disease, and boost your immunity is to eat dark green, leafy vegetables everyday. Not only do they taste great when prepared correctly, but they offer your body a boost of life giving nutrients such as Vitamins A, C, B, and K, minerals such as Iron, Calcium and Potassium, and of course tons of fiber which helps keep you full. 

The antioxidants found in dark green veggies, and even dark red ones such as beets, are also essential in keeping our bodies detox pathways functioning at maximum capacity. When our detox pathways such as our liver and kidneys are supported through eating these nutrient dense foods on an everyday basis, toxicities we are routinely exposed to are filtered out efficiently leading to abundant energy, vitality, and hopefully less seasonal sickness! 

Including these foods more routinely in your diet is easier than it seems. Start by trying one new food per week. For heightened immunity, include more of the following:
  • Beets (fresh!)
    • Cut off greens, scrub, and boil until tender, or chop and bake at 350 degrees lightly tossed in olive oil and sea salt for about 20 minutes.
  • Dark Greens: Swiss Chard, Kale (any variety), Spinach, Collard Greens
    • Sautee in olive oil with garlic as a side dish, stir fry with some chicken, throw them in an egg scramble, or eat raw in a salad.
  • Greek yogurt or kefir
    • Rich in probiotics (the more good "belly bugs" we introduce into our system, the stronger our immunity will be).
  • Ginger, garlic, lemons, oranges, almonds, fish, sweet potatoes 
    • Include these foods more routinely for increased overall health. 
Try this Sweet and Tart Swiss Chard Salad to jump start your journey to stronger immunity (and please your taste buds!): 

  • Two bunches Swiss Chard or any other dark green leafy veggies; washed and chopped into bite size pieces
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 apple, grated
  • 1/4 cup roasted, unsalted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground walnuts 
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil (found in oil section at most health food stores)
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic; minced
  • Pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste 

Start by mixing together your leafy greens, apple, carrots, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds. In a separate bowl, whisk together your remaining ingredients and drizzle over the bowl with the greens. Combine until all greens are coated with the dressings. 

This salad is great any time of day. Its incredibly filling and satisfying, and bursting with nutrition. Don't underestimate the power of leftovers....and don't forget to use mason jars as your number one storage container for easy salads on the go!

I always prep my ingredients first...organization is key!

Loving the old school grater!

         Grapeseed oil...fairly neutral tasting and highly nutritious

Getting ready for the goodness!

Never underestimate the power of mason jars
for storing leftovers and easy on-the-go lunches!

As always, stay well, eat well, and have a beautiful week!
-Ana Elisabeth, RD

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