10 Immune Boosting Autumn Recipes
You know the drill by now. It starts with an itch in the back of your throat and ends with you lying on your couch slurping soup and watching way too much TV. Yes, it’s that time of year again. Those hot summer nights are just a memory and fall is in full swing. With the weather changing and the air growing colder, our bodies need to adjust and colds and flus are prevalent. Thankfully, Mother Nature planned accordingly and has conveniently made sure that warming, comforting foods are in season so that we can feed our bodies with healing treats. Don’t fall ill, instead fall back into health with these easy and delicious recipes.
1. “An Applesauce a day…” Applesauce
You know what they say: “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” If only biting into this pomaceous fruit daily could cure all disease. What’s that you say? It can? Apples are rich in antioxidants, which help to fight disease and are strong in pectin fiber that helps with digestion among other things. Applesauce is also a great source of Vitamin C. Applesauce is so easy to make, so why not make your own?
Just peel a few apples (or, if you can handle the consistency, leave the peels on since that is where much of the nutrients and fiber are) and add to a small saucepan on medium heat for a few minutes with some minced fresh ginger. Add some cinnamon, and, if you have cardamom, cloves and/or nutmeg, add them and let the spices absorb for a few seconds before adding some lemon juice and just enough water to cover the apples. Reduce heat to very low, cover and let simmer until the water is absorbed and the applesauce is chunky. You can mash it together even more or add to a blender for a thinner consistency. This is also great with a mixture of apples and pears. Eat applesauce warm and then put leftovers in the fridge to enjoy all week long
2. “Baby Dahl” Lentil Bowl
Dahl is a classic Indian dish, and a very healing food according to the principles of Ayurveda. Dahl aids digestion and balances the doshas. The spices are very healing, especially the turmeric for its anti-inflammatory properties that become even more powerful with a pinch of black pepper. I love this dish because it’s a one-pot wonder and is very versatile. You can change it up by mixing in whatever seasonal veggies you have on hand. This is my version, but feel free to change it up with whatever you find at the farmer’s market or in your respective parts of the world.
For a hearty single portion or two smaller servings, add around 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to a pot then add chopped red onion and let simmer until translucent. Add leeks, minced garlic and fresh ginger and sautée for a few seconds before mixing in chopped carrots and sweet potato. Add spices. An already blended curry blend is great, and I like to also add some extra turmeric, a pinch of black pepper and some extra cinnamon for a sweet kick. Add around ¼ cup of dried red lentils. I recommend soaking them for a few hours or overnight in water with a slice of dried kombu to aid digestion. Stir and add just enough water to cover. Lower the heat and let simmer until the lentils are cooked and the veggies have softened. This will turn to an orange-y mush, and you can add more liquid as necessary so that it doesn’t clump or stick to the bottom of the pot. You can add more liquid to make this more of a soup, or keep it thick and eat on its own, or serve over a bed of brown rice or quinoa. Just before serving, I like to add cauliflower, spinach and/or broccoli for some extra cruciferous anti-inflammatory power or some fennel to reduce bloating. Top with fresh parsley and cilantro and a pinch of Himalayan salt if desired and serve.
3. “Turmeric I’m Sick” Tonic
Sorry Mary Poppins, but just a spoonful of sugar does NOT help the medicine go down. Instead, try this healing elixir packed with anti-inflammatory spices and detoxifying lemon. Just add the juice of one lemon, a splash of cayenne pepper, some turmeric powder, ginger powder, a pinch of black pepper, some cinnamon and some stevia then pour hot (but not boiling!) water and stir.
4. “Misooo good” Miso Soup
This miso soup is a twist on the classic Japanese staple. Miso is rich in enzymes, antioxidants and probiotics and is a great way to rid the body of infection. The soba noodles add gluten-free protein and healthy carbs for nourishment and energy and the veggies are both warm and soothing for the body and add protein, vitamins and minerals.
Cook soba noodles in boiling water for around 6-8 minutes then drain and set aside. Sauté some coconut oil in a big pot and add onions, garlic and ginger, then add carrots, sweet potato, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Add water, cover and simmer, then when the carrots and sweet potatoes are just getting soft, add fennel, broccoli, spinach or other vegetables of choice and cook until just soft. When the soup is hot, but not boiling, add miso paste and stir to combine. Add soba noodles and serve, topped with a drizzle of toasted sesame oil and some sesame seeds or gomasio and fresh chives.
5. “Almond the mend” Coconut almond yogurt
Coconut water is extremely hydrating, which is very important when fighting illness. The coconut meat is great for immunity thanks to its high fiber and manganese content, not to mention potassium and copper. Almonds are rich in vitamin E and build strength and immunity, especially when soaked. The probiotics help to replenish the gut with healthy bacteria, a key factor in getting rid of sickness and keeping our immune system strong. This yogurt is smooth and creamy and easily digested, not to mention delicious!
Soak around 1/4 cup of almond overnight then peel off the skins. Add the meat of one young coconut, a scoop of a strong probiotic powder and a splash of coconut water. Place into a Vita-mix or professional speed blender and mix together, gradually adding as much coconut water as needed to make the mixture smooth and silky, but not liquid. Make the mixture a bit thinner than you would like since it thickens as it sits. Cover with a cheesecloth and let sit in a warm, dark corner or countertop for a few hours, and then place in the refrigerator. The longer you leave the yogurt out, the tangier it will be. Add this to your homemade applesauce or top with seasonal goodies like fresh figs for the perfect fall treat.
6. “Feel Groat” Buckwheat Porridge
Not feeling so great? Try some groats! Buckwheat groats, that is. This breakfast porridge is warming and healing, but is a nice change from traditional oats since they are gluten-free and packed with even more protein. Buckwheat is a master of disguise. It may look like a grain, but it’s actually a fruit seed that contains the eight essential amino acids and is high in lysine, B vitamins, fiber, minerals and essential fatty acids. The almond milk not only makes this creamy and decadent, but also adds vitamins and protein power and the spices are, again, anti-inflammatory and warming - are you noticing a trend here?
For one serving, soak ¼ cup of the buckwheat overnight. Rinse with water.
Soak 1/3 cup of almonds overnight. Mix almonds with 1 cup of coconut water in a Vita-mix then pour through a nut milk bag or cheesecloth to strain. Add mesquite powder, vanilla bean powder, cinnamon, and mix. Add the almond milk mixture to a small pot, cover and let simmer.
In another small pot, add the soaked buckwheat and twice the amount of water and cook on a low simmer until the buckwheat is soft. Rinse again to get rid of any gooey starch. Add a handful of raisins and some grated apple to the almond milk mixture and continue to simmer until the apple and raisins are tender, then add in the buckwheat and serve warm.
7. “It’s Easy Being Green” Smoothie
If this is the first time you’ve been hearing about the health benefits of leafy greens, then come out from under that rock of yours and drink up! Greens in smoothie form are more easily digested, give the body more energy since it’s not being wasted on digestion, plus we can pack in a lot of calories, protein and healthy nutrients, which is great when we are sick and lacking appetite. This smoothie is very versatile – just add your favorite greens (think: spinach, kale, romaine, chard), seasonal fruits (fall favorites include apples, pears, figs), either avocado or banana or a mix of the two for creaminess and a liquid of choice (nut milk, water or coconut water), blend and enjoy!
Try this combo for a refreshing burst:
2 cups of leafy greens 2 teaspoons of maca powder 1 tsp of minced fresh ginger juice of 1 lemon ½ cup of water or coconut water ¼ avocado 1 banana ½ apple and ½ pear ¼ tsp of vanilla power optional: a pinch of stevia
8. “Feeling Beat” Beet Soup
Beets are a great immune booster and they add a healthy sweet flavor, not to mention a gorgeous purple hue, to any meal. Beets are rich in folic acid, calcium and iron and combat inflammation, heart disease and even cancer.
To make this easy fall soup, take a leek, chop it up, and place it into a pot with some coconut oil and onions. Sauté, then add garlic and ginger. Add chopped sweet potato, or, even better, purple potato since ‘tis the season and they also provide carotenoids and anthocyanins to boot. Then add chopped beets and some fresh rosemary, sage and thyme, a pinch of salt and pepper, and cover in water or vegetable broth. Simmer until beets and potatoes are tender, then add to a Vita-mix and puree until smooth and creamy. Top with fresh parsley.
9. “Algae-whiz, I feel better already!” Spirulina Spread
Spirulina is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet and is a great immune booster. Spirulina is also great when we’re sick and don’t have much of an appetite since it packs so much protein and so many phytonutrients into such a small amount. It’s an immune regulating food and helps to increase energy. Its dark green color does take some getting used to, but the benefits are so great. Add a teaspoon or two to your “Easy Being Green” smoothie or make this spread:
Mash up one avocado with 1-2 teaspoons of spirulina powder, some lemon juice, 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or a mix of olive and hemp, flax or another omega 3-rich oil). Voilà! You can add this to a blender to make it really smooth and creamy if you prefer, or keep it chunky. Scoop and serve over salad, in nori rolls or spread over rice cakes or sprouted or gluten-free breads.
10. Magic Mousse
This magic mousse does work miracles for one’s mood and also provides magnesium and other immune system-friendly nutrients to boot thanks to the avocado, cacao and coconut oil. It’s easy on the digestive system and is hydrating thanks to the coconut water. Enjoy!
Add 1 large avocado, 1 tablespoon of raw cacao powder, ½ tablespoon of mesquite powder, 1 pinch of vanilla powder, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, sweetener of choice (1 date, a pinch of stevia), 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and mix everything together in a Vita-mix, adding coconut water until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Presto, you feel better already!