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7 Easy ways to boost your immune system during Corona

a group of oranges cut in half

 

Some of you have been asking me about the best ingredients to boost your immune system. So here is how I  understood your question: we are already washing our hands 100 times a  day!!!, so now what can we do in the kitchen?

Well, I gathered some ingredients and, for 7 days, I will share ideas, recipes on where to use them.

a group of oranges cut in half

DAY 1 – Oranges

Oranges!  Oranges are a big source of vitamin C and can be part of your breakfast in a fresh juice (alternatively, a lemonade would also work).  Those, I had it yesterday morning with yogurt and homemade granola,  full of seeds (our second group of ingredients, for tomorrow). In  Portugal, we are known for having delicious, juicy and sweet oranges,  the best ones coming from the south, where the temperature is higher.

In fact… do you know how our Morrocan neighbors name this sweet fruit (the oranges!), in Arabic? BORTUCAL! And why?

The  *sweet* orange was not known in Europe and the Middle East until the  Portuguese brought them in boats from China and the Far East in the early 1500s, planting them along the coasts, already to prevent sailors from getting scurvy. So, many countries, from Greece to Pakistan, named this ‘new’ orange ‘Bortugal’ or´Porteghal’!

So, tomorrow, do yourself a favor, and have a ‘PORTUGAL JUICE’ to boost your immune system and get inspired for your next trip, safe and healthy, to Lisbon!

And me also ‘hear’ about your contributions to stay healthy having fun in the kitchen!

a bowl of food on a plate a piece of food

DAY 2 – Sunflower seeds, almonds, yaourt, ginger, papaya

All these ingredients are very interesting to include in your diet to  *boost your immune system*. There is a way to gather all of them: in a homemade Granola!

Here is how I did mine yesterday:

  1. Mix part of the ingredients: grain oats, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds  (and any kind of nuts you like – feel free to adapt it if you have allergies – coconut flakes you can also introduce now). I also included orange zest and very small cubes of fresh ginger. You want all the ingredients (especially the ones that have a certain percentage of water) to be very small/thin since one of the goals here will be to dry them during our baking). It’s ok to use ‘old’ grain oats since they will be back to life, crispy and delicious after the baking process.
  2. Add a natural sweetener and mix all well. I used honey- I bought mine from a friend, near Benavente (remember that story?!) during a  trip to Portugal countryside.
  3. My favorite trick: I put some grounded cinnamon, which turns into a delicious flavor after the baking effect.
  4. Pour this mixture out onto a parchment-lined and bake it for about  18-20 minutes or until it’s golden, tossing during baking so all the oats get backed, from all sides. The bigger the platter, the better, so all the mixture will have contact with the heat (oats will become golden and crispy, the dried fruits will release some oils and cinnamon its fragrance and flavor).
  5. After removing it from the oven, I add some dried fruits, in this case, raisins. But follow your taste and ideas!

Fantastic for breakfast with yogurt or kefir 🍶 (both full of probiotics, I mean  ‘friendly bacterias’. Some strains are great to boost the immune system and promote a healthy digestive tract). Add some fruits,  like the SUPER FRUIT papaya (or any other one) and you will get an ALL  IN ONE breakfast cocktail!

Happy breakfast!

a cup of coffee sitting on top of a wooden table

DAY 3 – Green tea 

When you need a simple and effective immune boost, many scientists advise us to look towards green tea.

For several reasons (we will not be exhaustive, but you can read Mike  Nakayama, 1993 and Cheryl A. Rowe 2007) green tea is a potent weapon against contracting the flu, and can aid in a quick recovery as well  (due to its powerful antiviral properties). Another component present in the green tea, L-theanine, has been shown to increase immune responses.

So let’s have green tea today! And tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow. Let’s do green tea, one of our daily rituals!

I have made it mine, for a couple of years already.

At home, I have several types of green tea. I have a special affection for the one from Japan (brought by my Japanese friend Barbara, who lives in Lisbon) and for another one,  called Gorreana and produced in…PORTUGAL?

“Wait! Did you say Portugal? In Europe? Portugal produces tea?”

Yes! And it’s Europe’s oldest, and currently only, remaining Tea plantation, in fact.

Here is the opportunity I can’t miss, to tell you a bit more about one of my beloved regions: the Azores islands, in the middle of the Atlantic, 2h30 flight from Lisbon.

In one of those Islands, São Jorge, apart from the cheese that some of you know so well, from doing my walking food and cultural experience, they also grow green tea there since 1883. Nowadays Gorreana’s plantation covers 32 acres and presently produces about 33 tons per year of organic green & black teas.

How to prepare green tea? ⌛️⏳

Temperature is very important. Depending on the type of tea, it can vary, BUT one rule you can note: never use boiling water, which means, always under  90ºCelcius (194º Fahrenheit). Steep between 30 seconds and 2-3 minutes,  again, depending on the type of tea. Check your tea package for instructions or ask the shop where you buy it or just ask me!

Cheers ?! Or ‘saúde’ (health to all) as we say in Portuguese!

a plate of codfishin the table

Codfish with spinach and chickpeas

DAY 4  – Spinach, garlic and chickpeas

Spinach contains essential antioxidants but also vitamins C and E that can help support the immune system. Research also indicates that flavonoids may help to prevent the common cold. Garlic can boost the number of virus-fighting T-cells in your bloodstream – important because colds and the flu are caused by viruses.

Considering that in quarantine we must rely on ingredients that are easily stored, what can be better to add to our previous ingredients than codfish and chickpeas?

Besides this pragmatic question, chickpeas are a high source of vitamins, minerals and fiber, but also high in protein and make an excellent replacement for meat in vegetarian and vegan diets. You either use dried or canned chickpeas (the dry ones, soak them for 12h at least).  

And codfish,… well you know already! 😉 

Portuguese cook it in 365 ways, at least, one per day of the year.  And remember, always salty and dried codfish (you will need to extract the surplus of salt by soaking it overnight before cooking. Place it in a  bowl with cold water to cover and soak for 24 hours, changing the water three or four times – remember you are in quarantine which means: ‘this is the moment to try it!’).

So here is a recipe for you to try during this quarantine, that includes all these ingredients!

Regarding the wine in the picture, it’s white wine Adega de Pegões, Selected Harvest.

If you wish to know and taste all the secrets and history about how Portuguese codfish became an emblematic ingredient since the 15th century join our Portuguese Tastings: 17 tastings Lisbon Food Tour on wwww.suckmycod.com

DAY 5 – Broccoli

Want to boost your immune system? Eat more broccoli!

All cruciferous vegetables contain a vital compound that prevents cancer and boosts liver function. “Cruciferous” is a scientific name used to describe plants that belong to the cabbage family, like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and kale. Broccoli, being the best of the bunch.

Want to convince a child to eat it? Or an adult? 😀 Here is a delicious greedy recipe that I discovered recently (posted already o4 weeks ago, and already made it 3 times!

Pasta with fried bacon (or fresh sausage)  and a ‘cream’ made of broccoli, potato and parmesan cheese.  This ‘cream’ is, for me, the revolution! The pasta will be silky, juicy and delicious. And if we think that this greedy effect is being produced by the broccoli, with the potato and the cheese… I think it’s an amazing and super healthy solution.

If you want a vegetarian and gluten-free recipe you may also like what I did last time, using the  ‘cream’  as an entry, to dip some baby carrots or do yourself some sticks of carrots, celery and other vegetables you like.

For the original recipe, I followed the Instagram account Al.ta Cucina (@al.ta.cucina) – thanks to Natacha (instagram: @atlanticfisherwoman) who showed it to me.  

Casarecce with cream of potatoes and broccoli with crispy sausage 

INGREDIENTS:

300g casarecce

1 small broccoli

2 medium potatoes

50g parmesan

2 spoons of oil

Salt to taste.

Pepper as needed.

1/2 onion

300g Sausage

Extra virgin olive oil to taste

METHOD:

Boil the broccoli and potatoes together until tender. When they are cooked, drain them and add Parmesan, oil, cooking water, salt and pepper, then blend everything together. In a pan, fry the onion with the oil, then add the sausage and brown until it becomes crispy. Drain the pasta al dente and add it to the pan with the onion and sausage, then add the cream of broccoli and potatoes together with half a cup of cooking water and stir well.

Bom appetite! Enjoy!

a bowl of soup a close up of a bowl of food on a plate

DAY 6 – Broth

Broth is a keyword when you want to have all in one: a simple to do, not expensive, easy to eat and powerful meal to prevent or to shorten some illnesses. It’s one of my suggestions to boost your immune system.

Bone broth,  for example, has been around throughout history in many cultures and this cross-cultural presence is just a sign of its relevance for human health.

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. Some amino acids are essential, meaning our bodies can’t make them so we have to get them from food. Others are non-essential, because our bodies can produce them.

But in some circumstances – illness, stress – our bodies don’t produce those non-essential amino acids as well. That’s when you really need to do chicken soup! Or a longer simmering bone broths, to compensate for the lack and to boost your immune system! Of course, it may also help to shorten and prevent colds and some illnesses!

So, here is my chicken broth (with ginger and cinnamon tea), but you can include in this category, ramens (Japanese soup) – second photo in a restaurant in Martim Moniz – phô (Vietnamese soup), etc.

Each culture used the broth in different ways, but the essential is always there! Which is also a good metaphor! 

a bowl of food

Day 7 – Shellfish

For the last day of this healthy sequence, we must do a party!

And you know what?

Shellfish has great health benefits. And can be delicious! Especially with green wine!

Shellfish is good to your heart, to your brain, for weight loss and of course,  not a surprise… it boosts your immune system! It’s a rich source of protein, fats and minerals, namely zinc.

Zinc is linked directly to a healthy immune system (it is necessary for developing cells that create your immune defense). In addition, it is also an antioxidant that protects you against inflammation damage.

Regularly eating shellfish, such as mussels and crab, can improve your levels of zinc and may improve your immune system.

So here is my Portuguese Shellfish Rice done today!

Some cooking ‘secrets´: 1. almost at the end, I like to add orange zest;  2. I blend what results from the first cooking phase – onion, garlic,  olive oil, tomato, a few mussels, white wine and the juices from the shrimps’ heads – this will do a super tasty sauce and rice; 3. I only cook the shellfish and the seafood at the ‘end’ to avoid it being overcooked (first the mussels, then the shrimps, finally the clams, crabs,…).
 
 

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