Foods that Fight Flu Season

It’s the time of year that many of us dread…flu season. You try to take every precaution you can by washing your hands, sanitizing grocery carts and not touching your face—but sometimes even that isn’t enough to prevent the nasty flu bug! In the past, I would get sick at least once every fall/winter and would always have 1-2 sinus infections on top of that. That was until I changed my diet up a few years ago, and I have enjoyed the last few years sick-free!

Remember, no one single food will make you healthier and improve your immunity. But I do suggest that it may be more beneficial to get your vitamins from your fruits and veggies rather than a packet of Emergen-C.

Get your vitamins from your fruits and veggies rather than a packet of Emergen-C.

Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Veggies

Ideally, your goal is to consume a wide variety of colors when choosing your fruits and veggies. Each color introduces a powerful antioxidant or plant nutrient into your system. For example, red-orange colored produce such as sweet potatoes, squash and carrots are great sources of Vitamin A and beta-carotene while blue, purple and dark red fruits like blueberries, raspberries and cherries deliver phytochemicals such as flavonoids that help reduce inflammation. Vitamin C can be found in red bell peppers, oranges, broccoli, kiwi and strawberries.

Eggs, Nuts and Seeds

These quick bites are good sources of zinc, which helps your T-cells and other immune cells function properly. Swap your afternoon wheat thins or granola bar for a handful of mixed nuts and seeds or even a hardboiled egg or two. In addition to the improved nutrient intake, you’ll also satisfy your hunger better and have more controlled blood sugars by choosing these good protein sources.

Proteins. Eggs, fish, chicken, lean or organic beef

Some studies suggest that inadequate protein intake can weaken the immune system by showing a decrease in the number of T-cells and antibodies being produced. A good goal to work towards is having protein with all your meals and with most of your snack choices.

Fatty fish and avocados

There are two great examples of healthy fats in the diet (omega-3 and omega-9s). Essential fats (fats that the body cannot produce) help decrease inflammation in the body as well as improve the integrity of our cell walls. I’ll explain in the next paragraph why this integrity is so important to immunity!

Immunity begins in the gut.

You gastrointestinal tract is your internal layer of skin. It can protect you from harmful agents invading your circulatory system; however, if its cell wall is compromised, you may be at a greater risk of getting sick this flu season. (This could be related to “leaky gut syndrome or intestinal permeability” however, not all practitioners believe in this concept). I know what you’re thinking—so what are the foods that damage my gut’s lining? Some of the main culprits could be foods high in sugar and simple carbohydrates such as candy, juice, soda, cereal, chips, crackers, pretzels, pasta and white bread. Three years ago, I pretty much cut out all of these foods from my diet. Could it be coincidental that I didn’t get sick the same time I cut out processed sugars and starches? Yes. However, I will remind you that I work in health care and am exposed to a lot of sick people on a daily basis during the flu season. In addition to not getting sick the past couple winters, I also noticed that I was less bloated, slept better and had more energy after changing my diet. While my results may differ from others following the same meal plan, it is certainly something to consider if you find yourself chronically getting sick all fall and winter long.

Remember—your immune system is exactly that—a system, not one single entity. To function well, it requires overall balance and harmony between all your health habits: diet, exercise, stress management and sleep.

Amanda  Figge

Tilapia & Strawberry Mango Salsa

Healthy? Check. Fast? Check. Delicious? Check.

Personally, I think tilapia and broccoli are two pretty bland menu items; however, they are excellent sources of nutrition! Tilapia is an incredibly lean protein source and broccoli provides an abundance of Vitamin A, Vitamin K and folate. All these dishes needed were a little love from some spices and herbs, and they were instantly transformed into a flavorful dinner meal.

Tilapia

Baked Tilapia with Strawberry Mango Salsa and Sautéed Broccoli

For the Tilapia

  • 2-4 tilapia fillets (fresh)
  • Your favorite zesty seasoning (I used my Tastefully Simple Fiesta Party Dip Mix)

For the Broccoli

  • 2-4 crowns of broccoli, chopped
  • 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

For the Strawberry Mango Salsa

  • 1 pint of strawberries, diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 2 small avocados, diced
  • At least 2 Tbsp of lime juice (add more if desired)
  • 4-6 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425o Spray a foiled baking sheet with non-stick spray. Lay tilapia on baking sheet and generously cover with zesty seasoning. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Once heated, add chopped broccoli to oil with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes and sauté for about 8-10 minutes. Be sure to move your broccoli frequently in the pan as it can burn easily. Once cooked, add brown sugar and Parmesan, reduce heat to warm and cover with lid.
  3. Mix all salsa ingredients together in a bowl. Serve over the tilapia.

Sweet and Spicy and Low Carb Nice-y!

If you have been following my blog, then you know how much I love spaghetti squash. One of the primary reasons I cook with it so much is because my husband is not very tolerant to wheat, so spaghetti squash is a safe (and lower calorie) alternative to pasta. If you have tried spaghetti squash before and didn’t care for it, I highly recommend you take one more stab at it with this recipe.

Spaghetti Squash with Sweet Spicy Sauce

  • 1 spaghetti squashbroccoli
  • 2 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 2 heads broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 5 cups spinach
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ zucchini, diced
  • Coconut aminos (gluten-free soy sauce alternative)
  • Smoked paprika, ground chipotle powder, cumin and salt to season turkey
  • Coconut oil

For the Sauce

  • baby spinach leaves in bowl2 Tbsp almond butter
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 ½ Tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp hot sauce (for extra heat, replace hot sauce with siracha)
  • ½ Tbsp honey
  • 1 Tsp sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 425oF. Cut squash in half. Lay flat sides down on baking sheet and bake from 30-35 minutes until tender.
  2. Meanwhile, heat some coconut oil in large pot over medium heat. Once heated, add turkey, coconut aminos and seasonings. Cook for about 5-7 minutes until browned. Remove cooked meat with a ladle and set in a separate bowl.
  3. With some of the leftover cooking juices from the turkey, add the broccoli, pepper and zucchini. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until cooked tender. Add spinach and cover with lid and let steam for a couple minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk all ingredients for sauce together in a separate bowl.
  5. Finally add turkey and spaghetti squash into pot with cooked vegetables. Pour sauce over mixture and let cook on low for a few minutes before serving.

Sweet and Spicy Spagetti Squash

Recipe inspired from Paleo OMG. I have omitted the garlic since it is in the same FODMAP family as wheat.

Clean Up Your Diet!

Shopping Basket Series
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It’s that time of year again to open up the windows and give the house a good scrub-down. This is also a perfect opportunity to clean out the cupboards and fridge and fill them with better choices for a healthier you this Spring! Here are a few good places to start with your cleaning:

  • Throw out the vegetable oil! A fellow dietitian of mine stated that vegetable oil should be renamed “inflammation oil”. Contrary to its name, there are no actual vegetables in this popular oil. It contains a high amount of omega-6 fatty acids, and when these occur in abundance in our diets, it can cause inflammation in the body. Vegetable oil is one of the main oils used in processed foods. Opt for olive oil with marinades and dressings and coconut oil for high temperature cooking.
  • Rid your fridge of low-fat and fat-free salad dressings and replace them with healthy vinaigrettes.
  • Canned vegetables may be economical since they have a long shelf-life, but many of the vegetables’ nutrients are lost in the canning process plus they now are packed with sodium. Clean your fridge and make room for high-nutritious, low-calorie vegetables such as: spinach, red bell peppers, asparagus, broccoli, zucchini and carrots.
  • Replace sugar-sweetened cereals with natural oats. You can dress up plain oatmeal by adding puree pumpkin and cinnamon, berries, peanut butter or apples and chopped nuts.
  • Purge those cabinets of pop-tarts, sugary granola bars and Little Debbie snacks and stock up on a variety of healthy snack options such as nuts, yogurt, raw veggies dipped in humus, hard-boiled eggs and fresh fruit.
  • Make sure you have small water bottles that can be packed for lunches instead of Capri Suns, Juicy Juice boxes or soda.
  • Swap flavored yogurt for plain Greek yogurt. Plain Greek yogurt contains less lactose, more protein and is not loaded with added sugars like the flavored varieties are.
  • Ready to take on a health challenge? Throw out your pasta noodles and begin purchasing spaghetti squash. Once cooked, the squash can be scooped out into perfect spaghetti threads. If you have a food spiralizer on hand, you can do the same with butternut squash and especially a great summer vegetable choice like zucchini!
  • Spring kicks off the start of many seasonal fruits and vegetables. During the spring and summer, produce tends to be cheaper and tastes better since its now in season. Be sure to head to your nearby Farmers Market to enjoy local seasonal produce!

 

Healthy Recipe Monday

Potatoes are one of America’s favorite vegetables. They are a good source of potassium and you can get a little extra fiber by eating the skins. Remember to practice good portion control when consuming potatoes by sticking to ½ cup serving sizes. For a balanced meal, be sure to add a green vegetable such as asparagus, green beans, spinach or broccoli along with potatoes.

Garlic Potatoes with Fresh Herbs

GarlicPotatoeswithFreshHerbs

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boiling or baking potatoes, with or without skins
  • 3 large garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper (white preferred)

1. Fill a large saucepan with enough water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut the boiling potatoes in half or the baking potatoes in quarters. Add the potatoes and garlic to the boiling water and return to a boil. Boil for about 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft all the way through when tested with a knife. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to a medium bowl and the garlic to a small plate, reserving the potato water.

2. Mash the garlic cloves. Add to the potatoes, combining lightly with a potato masher or large fork until coarse-textured. (Do not sure a food processor.) Stir in the remaining ingredients, adding a little hot potato water if needed for the desired consistency. The texture should remain coarse.

Cook’s Tip – For a taste change, substitute other fresh herbs for the rosemary and/or oregano. Parsley and sage are just two possibilities. This recipe doubles well.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 106.Total Fat: 2 g. Saturated Fat: 0.5 g. Monounsaturated Fat: 1 g. Polyunsaturated Fat: 0 g. Trans Fat: 0 g. Cholesterol: 0 mg. Sodium: 80 mg. Carbohydrate: 21 g. Fiber: 3 g. Sugars: 1 g. Protein: 2 g.

-American Heart Association, Recipes for the Heart

It’s Farmers’ Market Time!

Posted by Springfield Clinic

Springfield Clinic is proud to serve as the title sponsor for the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market!

For the second year, Springfield Clinic is the title sponsor for the Illinois Products Farmers’ Market. Beginning today, you can visit the Commodities Pavilion (across from the Grandstand) each Thursday for fresh, local produce, and products made in Illinois using Illinois ingredients. Area vendors sell fruits and vegetables straight from the farm, delicious homemade baked goods, chemical-free soaps and lotions, even locally produced beer and wine and so much more.

Tonight, join Amanda Figge, registered dietitian and your Something To Chew On bloggess herself, as she discusses family nutrition. Springfield Clinic will offer health screenings as well as educational programs related to nutrition, fitness and wellness. We will also be on hand every week with our healthy recipe.

Join us at the Illinois State Fairgrounds every Thursday! Find out more at SpringfieldClinic.com/FarmersMarket.

This weeks healthy recipe is:

Broccoli and Walnut Salad

Broccoli and Walnut Salad

Watch Amanda make the recipe of the week on WICS!