Food for a strong immune system

Are there foods that support the immune system? Yes, here are some foods credited with boosting your body’s natural defences.

Eating well can boost your wellbeing in many ways, and supporting your immune system is just one of these.

The best thing to do for your immune system is to eat a balanced diet. That means making sure you get a good mix of all the food groups, avoid overly salty, sweet or processed foods, and eat at least ten portions of fruit and vegetables a day

Firstly, some interesting facts
Fact 1: People with more body fat tend to have a higher respiratory quotient (RQ) and tend to rely on their glucose burning (aerobic) metabolism and are, therefore,  more susceptible to being out of breath (note: hypoxia is a key symptom and cause of death COVID-19). Due to oxidative priority, your body has to burn off any excess glucose in your system before fat and we consume around 30% more oxygen when be burn carbohydrates compared to fat. 

Thai Turkey Burgers

This is a make-it-up-as-you-go recipe that worked out very well. Served with a big salad and a dash of lime, it’s perfect for a sunny day.

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Serves 3-4 

450g turkey breast
1 red chilli, chopped finely
1 cm knob of ginger, peeled and grated
Zest of one lime
Handful of coriander, finely chopped
Pinch of salt and pepper

You can either place everything except the turkey breast in a food processor and whizz until all the ingredients are finely chopped (this would save time) and then add the turkey breast and whizz again until everything is incorporated and chopped. Or, you could just place the turkey breast in the food processor and add all the other prepared ingredients and whizz!

Unexplained fatigue

We all feel tired from time to time; a busy family and social life, a few late nights, deadlines at work – whatever the reason, tiredness can catch up with all of us at times.

But you may have realised that you’re feeling tired all the time, perhaps for no apparent reason, and even tired when you wake up. It’s a common problem. I see lots of clients who are, to some extent, ‘tired for no reason’. ONE of the reasons may be an underactive thyroid.

Production of too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) is a common cause of unexplained fatigue; production can be affected by all sorts of things – an autoimmune response, for example, or other factors such as prolonged stress or intake of certain drugs which can damage your thyroid.

Thyroid function is assessed via blood tests but often few markers are included, and whether you are found to be inside or outside the normal range can depend on where the test is carried out.

Cut the carb cravings

Firstly, craving carbohydrates and comforting food in uncertain times is not a sign of weakness or being greedy. It’s actually a fairly common hormonally-driven reaction to stress. The stressed brain craves a carb fix and the fastest, and unhealthiest, way to get it is with sugary, starchy processed foods which are chemically engineered to make you crave them. And the more carbs you eat, the more carbs you crave – creating a vicious cycle. So, be kind to yourself because we are going through unsettling times and instead, start the new year letting go of carb cravings and finding other ways to soothe yourself.

One very good reason to put your carb house in order is that as we’ve seen in countries hardest-hit by the virus, the majority of those who died from the disease also had sugar dysregulation and metabolic problems (obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure). Fortunately, metabolic problems are reversible. Here are some steps you can take to wean yourself off carbs and lose weight.

Snack smarter, by drinking first.

The pandemic has turned our daily routines upside down. Long periods at home with a stocked fridge, home-schooling and hours on Zoom make us fatigued and looking for treats to lift our mood and energy levels. But before raiding the biscuit tin, it’s worth checking this isn’t just thirst. Perhaps make yourself a nice cup of tea (without sugar) to help fill the gap.

Avocado Mash with Quinoa Flatbread plus Kale Salad

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Taken from Sirocco: fabulous flavours from the East by Sabrina Ghayour
I’ve adapted it by adding quinoa flatbread and coconut yoghurt rather than dairy yoghurt.

Avocado Mash with Quinoa Flatbread

1 large ripe avocado
2 tbsp garlic oil (as long as oil is just infused, this is ok for FODMAPS)
or plain olive oil
Chives, half a pack, chopped finely
Coriander, half a pack, chopped finely
1 tsp ground coriander
Slice of quinoa bread
Sea salt and black pepper

For the dressing

Apple and Almond Cake

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At our fortnightly WaistWatchers meetings we prepare a healthy snack. This week we’ve made a deliciously moist cake which can also double up as energy bars if you slice it up.

For the apple puree

  • 3 eating apples 
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the cake

  • a little coconut fat or butter to grease tin
  • 8 large eggs
  • 325 grams ground almonds
  • 150g Xylitol or 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 50 grams flaked almonds

Method

  1. Peel, core and chop the apples roughly. Put them in a saucepan with the lemon juice and bring the pan to a bubble over a medium heat. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat for about 10 minutes or until you can mash the apple to a rough puree with a wooden spoon or fork. Leave to cool.
  2. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/180ºC/350ºF; oil a 25cm / 10 inch springform tin with almond or coconut fat and line the bottom with baking parchment.
  3. Put the cooled puree in the processor with the eggs, ground almonds, Xylitol or Coconut sugar and 1 tablespoon – or generous squeeze – of lemon juice and blitz to a puree. Pour and scrape, with a rubber spatula for ease, into the prepared tin, sprinkle the flaked almonds on top, and bake for 45 minutes. It’s worth checking after 35 minutes, as ovens do vary, and you might well find its cooked earlier – or indeed you may need to give a few minutes longer.
  4. Put on a wire rack to cool slightly, then spring open. This cake is best served slightly warm, though still good cold.

Chocolate Orange Cake with Creme Patissiere

In the spirit of The Great British Bake Off, here is our contribution. This cake tastes good even without the Creme Patissiere. It’s gluten free, low gi (good for your waistline) and delicious!

Serves 10-12

150 ml regular olive oil (plus more for greasing)
50 g good-quality cocoa powder, raw is best (sifted)
125 ml boiling water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
150 g ground almonds (or 120g coconut flour)
Zest of one orange
1⁄2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch of salt
150g Xylitol or 3 tablespoons of Maple syrup
3 large eggs

Stewed Autumn Fruit

photo-1414396914239-e70522479d13Stewed autumn fruit

I love this time of year, not least because of the apples, pears and stone fruit that are ripe and ready to pick. If you’re lucky enough to have your own trees, or like me, have a generous neighbour who’s happy to share their bounty, then you will be able to make some delicious stewed fruit to store away in the fridge and freezer for the weeks and months to come. Of course you can buy the fruit too, but we recommend that you try to find local and organic fruit to reduce exposure to pesticides, and boost nutrient intake – farmers markets and local growers are a great choice.

Stewed fruit, rich with cinnamon, is a lovely thing – it can form the basis of crumbles, and, paired with some coconut (or regular) yoghurt, makes a speedy dessert or breakfast. But it’s also really, really good for you, and here’s why…

Consuming apples regularly can help reduce allergies (1), help to protect cells against oxidative damage (2), reduce inflammation in the intestines and throughout the body including the brain (3, 4, 5). And finally apples can improve your microbiome, by favourably impacting on the bacterial colonisation of the large intestine (6).

The deep, rich colour of most of our native plums gives an indication of their antioxidant, or phenol, content. Plums are also a good source of vitamin C, needed for iron absorption, to fight free radical damage, and to help protect our arteries from atherosclerosis. Stone fruits like plums have also been studied in relation to obesity and found to be protective, due to the bioactive compounds they contain (7), and in fact they can even help to ward off diabetes due to their blood sugar balancing effect (8).

We recommend that you add cinnamon to the stewed fruit, not only for its delicious autumnal flavour, but also to boost the health benefits of this dish even further. Cinnamon has been found to reduce inflammation (9), as well as helping to keep blood sugar levels stable (10).

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Stewed Apples and Plums – makes enough for several servings

8 English apples – I like Bramleys, they stew really well and are naturally lower in sugar
6 large plums
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp raisins (optional)

Peel and core the apples, then cut into slices or chunks. Wash and halve the plums, then remove the stone. Put all of the fruit into a large saucepan, then add the cinnamon, a splash of water, and then turn on the heat to low. In just twenty or thirty minutes, the fruit will be softened and stewed. Store any unused stewed fruit in the fridge for use over the coming days. Or freeze for use at a later date. We recommend that you add a natural sweetener when serving rather than during stewing, such as raw honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. Xylitol can also be used for those with yeast overgrowth or diabetes. Delicious served with plain, live yoghurt or Coyo coconut yoghurt.

Written by Emma Rushe

 

 

 

 

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21215999
(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15941346
(3) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19764067
(4) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18356331
(5) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12122072
(6) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20955691
(7) http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120618132921.htm
(8) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16295695
(9) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21451725
(10) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20513336

 

Chocolate Chilli Pots

200g dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher), finely chopped
1 can full-fat coconut milk
2 large egg yolks
1/4 tsp chilli powder or 1 tsp of fresh chillies, very finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1 cinnamon stick
1 tbsp vanilla extract

For the Whipped Topping
1 can full-fat coconut milk chilled overnight in the refrigerator
Coconut sugar, to taste (optional)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together coconut milk, egg yolks, chilli, and salt. Add in the cinnamon stick. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens and forms a smooth custard that coats the back of a spoon, about 10 to 15 minutes. Carefully watch the custard, taking care not to overcook or boil it. When the custard is ready, take the pan off the heat, and remove the cinnamon stick. Position a fine mesh sieve over the bowl of chocolate, and pour the custard through to catch any lumps. Let the chocolate and custard mixture sit undisturbed for 5 minutes, then gently stir to mix the melted chocolate into the custard base. Stir very gently so that the temperature doesn’t drop too quickly, otherwise you’ll end up with grainy chocolate. Steady, slow stirring is essential for ensuring a stable emulsion. Stir in the vanilla extract.

Divide the mixture evenly into espresso cups or ramekins and cool to room temperature. Let them chill and firm up in the fridge for at least 4 hours. When ready to serve, remove them from the fridge along with the chilled can of coconut milk. Remove the lid and carefully spoon out the thick layer of solidified coconut cream on the top. Place the cream into a chilled bowl, with coconut sugar if using, and whip it until it forms stiff peaks. Spoon a dollop of the whipped coconut cream on to each cup. Dust with cinnamon. YUM!

Lemon Smoothie

1 glass of water, coconut water or almond milk
Handful of blueberries
1 large handful parsley
Zest of one lemon
Squeeze of half a lemon
1 tbsp ground flaxseeds (preferably soaked overnight)
1 knob of fresh ginger, about the size of a small adult thumbnail
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
1 tbsp of nut butter (almond or cashew etc)
A few cubes of ice (if it’s a particularly hot day!)

With a high speed blender, throw all ingredients in and blend on high until creamy and smooth. You can add more liquid if you prefer a thinner consistency.

With a less powerful blender, be sure to chop the parsley and add ingredients and blend, one at a time, until all ingredients are liquified.