How to Cook for a Stronger Immune System

You cook for a lot of reasons. You cook because it’s a fun, relaxing activity after a frantic workday. You cook because it’s cheaper than dining out all the time. And you cook because – obviously – it’s one of those rare skillsets that pays off in continual, daily enjoyment.

But cooking for yourself can also be an opportunity to police what goes into your body. It can be a way to improve your overall health and wellbeing without sacrificing flavour or satisfaction.

In this post, let’s explore how to cook for a stronger immune system. What many home cooks don’t know is that you can support a healthy immune response through the ingredients you choose and the methods you employ. Let’s get cooking!

Get Creative with Your Berries

Virtually every common berry is a powerhouse of antioxidants and immune-supporting properties. From blackberries to cherries, blueberries and raspberries, these small, nutritionally dense fruits pack a healthful punch.

The problem is, people tend to relegate berries to sweet applications like desserts and smoothies. But the humble berry is far more versatile than that. Berries make fantastic pan sauces, relishes, and compotes to be served alongside protein. Experiment with various berries, herbs and vinegars to develop an immune-boosting condiment for your next dinner.

Meal idea: Cedar-plank salmon with a blackberry, thyme and maple and grainy mustard sauce.

Look Beyond the Button Mushroom

Button mushrooms are perfectly fine – in fact, they have modest immune-supporting properties. But if you really want to cook for a stronger immune system, look past the produce section of your grocery store – and toward the wellness aisle.

The mushroom mycelium of certain species (that is, the root structure of the mushroom rather than the fruiting body) has been shown to work wonders on the immune system. Chaga mushroom mycelium, in particular, is an immune-boosting powerhouse. Chaga has been a part of medicinal practices across the world for several centuries – from Cree regions of North America to ancient China.

It’s easy to work chaga mushroom powder into a savoury dish. Its earthy flavour pairs well with most proteins, and it blends into sauces like a dream.

Meal idea: Texas-style chilli con carne with chaga mushroom powder, coffee and collagen broth.

Brighten Your Dishes with Citrus

Citrus fruits deliver a quick, bright punch of flavour and a healthy dose of flu-fighting vitamin C. To get the most from your citrus fruits – flavour-wise and health-wise – add citrus juice at the very end, so the heat from cooking doesn’t denature the vitamins.

Meal Idea: Fennel and citrus-segment salad with feta crumble and picked dill

Don’t Go Easy on the Garlic

A lot of recipes tell you to add one – maybe two – cloves of garlic. Don’t listen to those recipes.

Garlic is one of nature’s immune-supporting all-stars, chock full of antibacterial and antiseptic properties that studies show can actively resist viruses and bacterial infections. Raw garlic is best for the immune system, but cooked garlic can also help fight off infections.

Meal idea: 50-clove garlic chicken with grilled lemons and toum (a Lebanese garlic sauce similar to aioli).

As you can see, it’s pretty easy to cook for your immune system. If you love cooking, but hate getting sick, follow the tips and meal ideas above.

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