When it comes to sunny dispositions, stress and anxiety possess the power to rain on your day by compromising your body’s ability to fight infections, viruses, and bacteria. Research shows that people who experience chronic, long-term stress are the most vulnerable to compromised immune systems.
photo courtesy of sxc.hu
But one tool in your immunity arsenal is a diet rich in vitamins, omega-3 fats, and minerals, which can help bolster your body’s defenses while building energy resources. Toby Amidor, clinical dietitian and HealthyEats.com expert, advises stressed individuals to pack a lot of nutrients into their meal planning because vitamins and minerals can help repair and build your immune system. “Many of the nutrients interact together in the body to create and maintain a healthy immune system,” Amidor says. This menu can do just that.
Three Bean Salad
This refreshing starter serves as a great energizer on a hot day. Beans provide a low-fat protein source rich in fiber and antioxidants, and they deliver vitamin A (good for skin, eyes) and zinc, which promotes the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. The garlic also does more than flavoring the beans, it enhances macrophages and lymphocytes – cells that scour the blood in search of pathogens. Research suggests this wunderkind herb also keeps cardiovascular disease and cancer at bay.
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
1/2 red onion, chopped fine
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine
1 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped fine
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, mix the beans, celery, onion, parsley, and rosemary. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add the dressing to the beans and toss. Chill beans in the refrigerator for several hours to allow the beans to soak up the flavor of the dressing.
This icy drink cools you off while pumping your system with vitamin C from the guava and pineapple, which increases the production of white blood cells and antibodies (proteins designed to attack foreign and harmful objects in the body).
2 ounces coconut cream
1 ounce pineapple juice
1 ounce guava juice
1 cup ice
1 1/2 ounces white rum (optional)
Put all ingredients into a blender and grind until mixture becomes an icy slush. To decorate glass, place a slice of lime on the edge.
photo courtesy of flickr/liliboas
Grilled Salmon with a Mango Papaya Salsa
The salmon in this zesty entrée teams with omega-3 fats and B vitamins, which strengthens cell membranes, speeds up the healing process, and enhances the activity of immunity cells. Salmon and other fatty fishes such as mackerel and tuna are rich in B vitamins, which not only enhance the immune system but also “help with energy metabolism,” Amidor says. Peanut oil and avocados are great for vitamin E, an antioxidant that increases the number of B-cells, which produce antibodies. Finally, red peppers, papaya, and mango provide vitamins A and C.
Papaya Mango Salsa
1 mango, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 papaya, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 sweet onion, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
In a bowl, mix mango, papaya, red bell pepper, avocado, sweet onion, cilantro, and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.
1 tablespoon peanut oil to coat wok or grill
1 1/2 - 2 pounds salmon (6-8 ounces per person)
1 cup soy joy sauce
1/4 cup honey (optional)
2 cup papaya mango salsa
Heat oiled grill. Place salmon over heat and cook about 4 minutes on each side. Salmon should be slightly blackened and crispy on outside and moist and flaky inside. The effect you want is a slightly caramelized finish, never burnt. Remove from heat, drizzle with soy joy sauce and honey and serve immediately with a scoop of papaya mango salsa.
Balsamic Strawberries with Ricotta Cream
End the meal with a dessert that contains vitamin C-rich fruits such as strawberries.
Honey also contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
photo courtesy of sxc.hu
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 (16-ounce) container strawberries, hulled and quartered
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, cut into ribbons
Put the ricotta cheese, honey and vanilla extract into the food processor and process until smooth, about a minute. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate for at least two hours. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar and bring to a boil. Simmer over medium heat for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Allow to cool completely. In a medium bowl, toss the berries with the basil and the balsamic syrup. Divide the cream among four cocktail glasses, top with the berry mixture and serve.