children's nutrition - foods that boost the immune systemOver the next few months I’d like to offer a number of ideas about how we can boost the immune system and strengthen the body rather than focusing on eliminating germs and bugs.

These posts will include “Immune System” in the heading so you’ll be able to follow the theme of those posts. We will also have posts on other topics and some guest writers sharing with you some fascinating health information.

If you were to search the internet like I did today for forums on “staying healthy in winter’ most of them give countless warnings about the need to be mindful of greater exposure to bugs and germs in winter as we typically spend more and more time indoors. They also urge us to take precautions and use antibacterial hand creams and avoid people who are unwell etc, etc.

In the post 8 Reasons So Many Children Are Unwell we discussed however that science is now revealing compelling evidence that urges parents to give their children exposure to bacteria. I outlined studies that suggest that we may have gone too far and that some exposure to pets, dirt and other children for example are vital for stimulating the immune system to work effectively.

So where does this leave parents who are unsure about how to effectively boost the immune system?

There are a range of healthy habits we can create — some are extremely simple and others require time and effort — but let’s begin with a few simple recipes that contain raw organic garlic. Yes it’s a feisty ingredient but garlic is a fabulous NATURAL ANTIFUNGAL, ANTIVIRAL herb that offers powerful protection against all kinds of infection. I like to call garlic the “vegetable antibiotic”, except it’s full to the brim with goodness.
Other powerful immune boosters include and vitamin C, iron and zinc rich foods. Remember their potency lies in their quality so wherever possible please buy organic produce.

These recipes for hummus (and its variations), pesto and guacamole are easy, scrumptious ways to give your family a dose of raw garlic – pure dynamite!! Helping to ward off flus, viruses, worms and parasites. Serve these dips with veggie sticks, corn chips, steamed veggies or as a garnish for soup.

These recipes are taken from Lunchbox Solutions

Gold Star Hummus

Hummus is a creamy dip originating in the Middle East, made from pureed chickpeas. There’s no doubt in my mind that homemade hummus beats store bought varieties any day. If you want to win an award from your children (perhaps parent-of-the- year), then trust me—make your own hummus, watch your family devour it, then the next day buy a store bought variety. Sweet victories are precious.

Homemade hummus is fresh and bursting with nutrition and best of all it is free of emulsifiers, colours and preservatives. Hummus makes a wonderful condiment and a great snack served with crackers and veggie sticks. It is extremely versatile and it is a great source of calcium, magnesium and potassium.

Take a fancy spin on this traditional recipe—with beetroot, spinach and sesame variations makes dips even more fun for children. Have them help you make the dips—they’ll love the colours!

Traditional Hummus

Ingredients:

  • 1 x 400 gram (14 ounce) can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh herbs—coriander (cilantro), parsley or basil (optional)
  • 1 small clove of garlic (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients and herbs (if using) in a food processor and blend.
  2. Stop the blender after 1-2 minutes and use a spatula to push down the mixture from the sides to ensure the blade captures all the ingredients.
  3. Continue blending until smooth.

NOTE: You can also blend for less time and leave the hummus a little chunky if you like.
VARIATIONS

Pink Hummus
Add 1/4-1/2 cup cooked beetroot (beets), 1 extra tablespoon water (to desired consistency) and up to 1 tablespoon honey (to taste) to the traditional recipe.

Green Hummus
Add 1-2 cups fresh spinach and 1 teaspoon honey (optional) to the traditional recipe.

Sesame Hummus
If you love tahini, add 1 tablespoon sesame seeds to the traditional mix for extra protein and calcium.

. . . . .

Jen’S Wicked Pesto Sauce

I am one of those cooks who tends to throw in additional ingredients depending on my mood or the taste I wish to create. I made Chef Kate some homemade pesto one evening—with an abundance of greenery from our vegetable garden—and she continues to rave about it. Typically I add a mix of greens, rather than just basil, and depending on the occasion more, or less, garlic, chilli, pine nuts and parmesan. Make it, and tweak it to your mood.

I always keep some pesto ready to use in the fridge—it’s great with pasta, as a garnish on minestrone soup, and it makes a delicious spread on pizza. It certainly holds its own when entertaining.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large bunch fresh basil leaves (or use 1/2 basil and 1/2 spinach or chard)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • A sprinkle of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 40 grams (1.5 ounces) pine nuts, to taste
  • 50 grams (2 ounces) parmesan cheese, to taste
  • 4 tablespoons good olive oil (most important of all)

Method:

  1. Place all ingredients and herbs (if using) in a food processor and blend.
  2. Stop the blender after 1-2 minutes and use a spatula to push down the mixture from the sides to ensure the blade captures all the ingredients.
  3. Continue blending until smooth and adjust taste accordingly.

NOTE: An additional 1-2 tablespoons olive oil will make it a little creamier.
. . . . .

Guacamole With Fresh Herbs, Cumin And Lime

This healthy, nutrient-packed dip is great served with gluten-free crackers, corn chips, fresh veggies, or as a delicious vegetarian sandwich spread. The herbs and spices add flavour and extra nutrition to the guacamole. We also love it with Falafels.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe avocados (pits removed)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander (cilantro) (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped spring onion (green onion)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon agave syrup or honey (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper

Method:

  1. Scoop the flesh out of the avocados with a spoon and place in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Gently mash the avocado with the lime juice.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and gently mix to combine.
  4. It is best served immediately, but will keep for the next day in the refrigerator.

NOTE: You can bury the avocado pit in the guacamole to keep the dip from turning brown. This usually works, but not always.

Optional Additions

  • 1/4 cup finely diced tomato
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion

. . . . .
From the desk of…

Dr Jennifer Barham-Floreani
B.App.Clin.Sci, B.Chiropractic

 

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