4 Food Therapy Recipes to Boost Your Immune System

If you’re wondering how to boost your immune system right now, you’re not alone. Nearly 50 percent of Americans are now under stay at home orders as state governments struggle to contain the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), and millions more being asked to remain home voluntarily.

While these measures are sure to save lives, in the short term they create a lot of uncertainty about the future—which can lead to stress and anxiety. Stress is bad for the immune system, which puts people at greater risk for infectious diseases like the Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The good news is that you can boost your immune system and resistance to illness using food therapy, according to Meghan Mabe, a Licensed Acupuncturist and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner at Northwestern Health Sciences University’s Bloomington Clinic.

“From a TCM perspective, prevention is more important than cure,” says Mabe. “Stress management is very important, so it doesn’t lead to increased anxiety, which can negatively affect our immune systems. These food therapy recipes are meant to help boost your immune system to help prevent disease, they aren’t a cure for any specific illness.”

These four recipes, in addition to being delicious and nutritious, provide important nutrients that can help your body maintain good health.

1. Beef Bone Broth

If you’re looking for deeply nourishing recipe, beef bone broth is a great choice.

“There are so many benefits to bone broth,” Mabe says. “In TCM, bone broths boost energy, or qi, nourish blood, and restore adrenal function, which is affected by stress.”

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Beef Bone Broth Ingredients

  • 4 pounds beef bones
  • 1 white onion, halved
  • 2-inch knob of fresh ginger, unpeeled, halved
  • 2 leeks, white parts only, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, unpeeled, sliced into thick rounds
  • 1 TBSP apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp whole cloves (optional)
  • ½ tsp star anise (optional)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Beef Bone Broth Cooking Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the bones in a large roasting pan. To save time, add the onions and ginger with the bones so they begin to caramelizing as well. Roast for about 30 minutes or until the bones are brown and crackly and juice has started to collect.

Let the bones cool slightly and then transfer them to a stockpot, Or if you’re using the same pot, add 3 quarts water or enough to cover the bones, roasted garlic and onions. Add the leeks, carrots, vinegar and optional spices.

Bring to a boil over high heat, skim off any foam that rises. Reduce heat to a simmer for 2 to 4 hours, covered, checking every so often to skim off any additional foam.

Remove from heat, strain and season with salt and pepper.

*You can use chicken bones if you prefer. Chicken bones do not need to be roasted first.

Drink bone broth warm or use in soups, stews and congees over the next several days.

Tips: to make broth in a slow cooker, set on medium or low and cook for approximately 8 hours. Remove any fat that forms on top.

Recipe from “The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother” by Heng Ou

2. Wellness Tea

boost your immune system nwhsu bloomington clinicWellness Tea Ingredients

  • Fresh ginger
  • Lemon or lemon juice
  • Hot water

Wellness Tea Cooking Instructions

Add 2-3 slices of fresh ginger and 1-2 slices of fresh lemon, or one tablespoon of lemon juice, to a mug. Add hot water to the mug, and let steep for 1-2 minutes. Enjoy!

3. White Rice Congee (Rice Porridge)

This mild, nourishing dish is easy to make and easy to digest.

“Congee is traditionally served when someone is a little under the weather,” says Mabe. “It can balance your tired but wired state.”

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White Rice Congee Ingredients

  • 1½ cups white jasmine rice
  • ½ cup white sticky rice (substitute more Jasmine if you don’t have sticky rice)

Additional Ingredients

  • Option 1: Garlic, ginger, scallions, tamari, beef, and kimchi
  • Option 2: Oats, chia seeds, and fruit
  • Option 3: Sweet potatoes, adzuki, raw honey, and fresh ginger

White Rice Congee Cooking Instructions

Cook the rice so you end up with 4 to 4.5 cups cooked rice. You can cook the rice in a rice cooker, or on the stove.

Add the cooked rice to a clean pot with 1-quart water. Over medium heat, bring to a boil and add the additional ingredients, if you choose. Then lower heat and cook for 45 minutes, covered, stirring often, checking to make sure the water level is always at least ½ inch above the rice level. Cook until rice opens and softens.

Recipe from “The First Forty Days: The Essential Art of Nourishing the New Mother” by Heng Ou

4. Carrot Ginger Soup

This delicious soup also helps you stay healthy.

“Soups can help reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety and can prevent illness by boosting your immune system,” says Mabe.

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Carrot Ginger Soup Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 2 heaping cups chopped carrots
  • 1½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 3 to 4 cups vegetable broth
  • Sea salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup, optional
  • Coconut milk or pesto for garnish, optional

Carrot Ginger Soup Cooking Instructions

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and a generous pinch of salt and pepper and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the smashed garlic cloves and chopped carrots to the pot and cook about 8 minutes more, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the ginger, then add the apple cider vinegar, and then add 3 to 4 cups of broth, depending on your desired consistency. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the carrots are soft, about 30 minutes.

Let cool slightly and transfer to a blender. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add maple syrup, if desired.

Serve with a drizzle of coconut milk or a dollop of pesto, if desired.

Recipe by Love and Lemons