Although cold weather creates snow and frozen lakes, it also slows down your immune system and forces you to stay indoors. If you’re inside with other people, you may be more likely to share germs, and the last thing you want is a miserable holiday dragged down by the cold or flu. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep your immune system healthy, such as receiving your annual flu shot, getting the right amount of sleep and practicing good hand hygiene. You also need to eat the right foods to get the nutrients your immune system requires. Heidi Skolnik, a nutrition consultant in New Jersey, talked to The Weather Channel about the best foods that can keep your family healthy during the winter. Because you’ll probably want something warm and hearty, we’ll focus on ingredients you can use to make some comforting hot soup.
According to Skolnik, broccoli is a great source of vitamin C and 3,3′-diindolylmethane, a chemical compound that can have positive effects on the immune system. To make Everyday Health’s cream of broccoli soup, you’ll need the following:
Directions: Boil the broccoli over medium heat for 10 minutes, then set aside. Take a large skillet and sautee the onions and garlic in oil until they’re translucent. Add some flour to the skillet and stir. Slowly add the water from the broccoli into the skillet until it’s thickened. Next, add the broccoli, milk and spices. Cook until hot without letting the milk boil. Top off serving bowls with Parmesan.
Sweet potatoes are high in the antioxidant beta carotene. The body converts beta carotene into vitamin A, which the immune system needs. To make Taste of Home’s roasted garlic and sweet potato soup, you’ll need the following:
Directions: Remove the outer skin of the garlic bulb without peeling or separating the individual cloves. Slice off the top and brush the bulb with half a teaspoon of oil, then wrap in heavy duty foil. Put the sweet potatoes on a baking pan and drizzle the rest of the oil on them. Bake the garlic and vegetables at 425 degrees Fahrenheit until they’re tender, then let them cool. In a blender, combine the parsley, thyme, salt, pepper, softened garlic and 1.5 cups of broth, and mix before transferring to a saucepan. In batches, mix up the sweet potatoes, onions and broth, then gradually add to garlic mixture, stirring over heat warm enough to serve.
Why is chicken soup such a sick day classic? Skolnik said the heat breaks up congestion, while the broth rehydrates. To make Prevention Magazine’s chicken soup, you’ll need the following:
Directions: Heat the oil in a medium pot, then add the vegetables. Stir until the vegetables have softened without browning. Add the broth and 4 cups of water, then boil. Add the chicken and simmer until the chicken has cooked through. Remove the chicken and shred it. Then, add the meat and noodles to the pot and simmer until the noodles are tender. Remove bay leaf and season to taste.