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Boost Immunity with 10 Superfoods

Genesis 1:29—And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

The following article for this month’s recipes comes from Jackie Newgent, classically trained chef and teacher at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, author of several cookbooks.

Find out how these 10 super-germ-fighting foods do their job.

Lentils provide a significant amount of iron. Getting iron from the food you eat helps your body fight fatigue. Garlic and onion both contain compounds called allyl sulfides, which help to protect immune function. Mushrooms contain a naturally occurring compound called lentinan, which stimulates immune function. They also contain a significant amount of zinc, a nutrient that also helps the immune system. The white button mushroom, in particular, can help the body fight viruses. Spinach is an amazing source of folate. This nutrient increases the body’s ability to fight infection. Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, a carotenoid that has a positive effect on immune cell function.

Tomatoes get their red pigment from the phytochemical lycopene. Regular consumption of tomato is associated with enhanced immunity due to lycopene’s role in immune cell function. Yogurt that contains probiotics from live friendly bacteria can help to improve the body’s immune response—and protect from infection.

When choosing yogurt, read the label carefully. Look for brands that contain at least two probiotic types and no added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Green tea is loaded with flavonoids that have powerful antioxidant and antiviral properties. When regularly consumed, green tea may help protect against the flu. Cinnamon is a warming spice, so called because it warms our bodies by improving circulation. Cinnamon’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can stimulate the immune system.

AMAZING IMMUNITY-BOOSTING SOUP

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 teaspoon ground cumin

. teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth

. cup green lentils

4 ounces cremini, shiitake or white button mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 medium garnet yam or sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 cup freshly brewed green tea

1 (5-ounce) package fresh baby spinach or 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Add the cumin, cinnamon and garlic, and cook one minute longer, stirring constantly. Add the broth and lentils. When the liquid boils, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Add the mushrooms, tomatoes, yam and tea. Cook until the lentils are soft, and the sweet potato just holds its shape. Stir the baby spinach into the soup. Heat for five minutes. Adjust seasoning.

Alice Russell, also known as “Me Me,” is a guest columnist who resides in the Randolph/Saxe area. She can be reached at letstalkherbs@