Immune Boosting Recipes

Immune Boosting Protocols for the Pandemic

These are unprecedented times. Anxiety, worry, and fear are natural responses to this situation. Also unique to this situation, compared to other crisesis that we’re all in it together all over the globe. Be Balanced Healing is here to support you. Please use this guide for tips, resources and nutrition suggestions to help protect and support you if you do get sick.   

 As you’ve heard, the global and local efforts are to slow down the rate of which people are contracting the virus.  This means social distancing, proper hygiene, and strengthening our immune systems for months well past the usual flu season.  This whole scenario will play out over time and it is important that we pace and take care of ourselves, and each other.    

It’s important to recognize that this is a new virus and there’s still much we have to learn.  There is very little tested to date, and so recommendations are based on what the experts know about how this virus, and others like it, behave in the human body. 

Disclaimer:  Please note that Nutrition therapy is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, prescription, or cure for any disease, or as a substitute for medical care. Please contact your doctor if you have symptoms such as a dry cough or fever.   

Immune Strength and Prevention 

Social distancing:  The overarching goal is to “flatten the curve” so people contract the virus slowly, over a longer span of time, rather than all at once.  This is so the sickness does not overwhelm the hospital system and allows doctors to attend to those with the most critical need, as we saw in Italy.     

Follow the recommended state and federal guidelines.  Take a stay-cation, work from home, limit in-person gatherings. We have tips and resources below to help keep you sane during this time.  For more information visit: Flatten the Curve.  

For current information on cases locally and worldwide visit John Hopkins University. Their site only contains real-time data, without any hype.  

 Proper Hygiene:  Washing hands and disinfecting really works. Good old soap and water do wonders but it’s also the friction of rubbing your hands together for 20 seconds that removes unwanted germs. You need to get in between your fingers and under your nails. I recently learned song that preschoolers use to wash their hands and it’s a lot of fun!  Video forthcoming. 

Try to avoid touching your face.  The virus can stay active on surfaces for many hours and if your hands make contact and you move them to your nose, eyes or mouth the virus can enter your body.  This is a lot more difficult than it sounds! 

Sleep:   Get a good night’s sleep and stick to your usual sleep schedule.  With different work and school schedules, it’s easy to stay up later than usual.  Sleep is where your body rests and rejuvenates; it’s also where your immune system is active. Strive for 7-9 hours per night and sleep in total darkness for proper melatonin production (melatonin is an important antioxidant and can aid immune health).  If you’re feeling anxious, follow our stress tips below to help you relax and get your zzz’s.   

Eat Your Veggies & Fruit Many of us stocked up on pantry items and frozen meals.  However, it’s still important to eat fresh vegetables and fruit every day.  Swing by the grocery store 1-2 times per week to pick up fresh produce.   

  • Vitamin C foods are important for immune defense  – citrus fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges and tangerines; mangos, kiwi, strawberries, pineapple, red, orange and yellow bell peppers, jalapeños and chili peppers, kale, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts. Add fresh lemon or lime wedges to your water each day.   
  • Other foods contain immune-boosting properties such as spinach, onion, apples, leafy green vegetables, olives and extra virgin olive oil, green tea, and unrefined virgin coconut oil. 
  • Garlic – chop or press and let sit for 10 minutes exposed to air before cooking.  This increases its benefits. Roast 1-2 cloves and eat with your veggies (see recipe below). If you’re brave you can also eat raw – limit to 1 clove per serving to minimize any stomachaches.   
  • Ginger  – use the fresh root in a stir fry or curry (see recipe below); chop up a ½ inch piece of the root and add to boiling water to make tea (see other recipes below); use the powder in cooking, sprinkle over butternut or acorn squashes; juice the root to make juice (see recipe below).  
  • Use herbs and spices: in addition to garlic and ginger, turmeric, rosemary, chili pepper, dill, and oregano are immune-boosting herbs and spices.
  • Work with what you’ve got. Add fresh vegetables to the pantry items such as steamed broccoli to ramen noodles or sautéed kale to pasta.   
  • Frozen vegetables have more nutrition than canned, so if your grocery store is limited on fresh or you need to grocery shop less, choose frozen over canned.   
  • Frozen berries can be better than fresh this time of year and keep for longer. Use them in smoothies, breakfast porridge/oatmeal, or on top of salads. 
  • Bone broths – good gut health strengthens your immune system.  You can make broths yourself (see recipes below) or purchase premade. We like the Kettle & Fire brand and Bonafide Provisions found in the freezer section.  Both are from grass-fed, pasture-raised animals.   
  • Copper-containing foods (to balance zinc supplements, listed below) – eat spirulina, shiitake mushrooms, sesame seeds, cocoa powder or 70% or higher dark chocolate. 
  • Cook most of your veggies to avoid any potential contamination. 

Grocery Delivery Options   

  • Amazon Prime offers delivery from Whole Foods.  
  • King Soopers offers ordering online and delivery services.   
  • Instacart delivers from many food stores, including Sprouts and Natural Grocers. 
  • Check your local area for farm-fresh quality restaurants that deliver even when dining rooms are closed.  (Many use Door Dash, Uber Eats, Grub Hub or Hungry Buffs in Boulder).  
  • Many local restaurants are offering take out services during this time. Patron your favorite places to support local businesses. Make this a weekly habit and take a break from cooking!     

 Consume Less Sugar:  sugar decreases your immune function.   

  • It’s a stressful time!  It’s easy to choose comfort and sugary treats to make ourselves feel better.  Try to limit your consumption since it will hinder your immunity.  
  • Remember that soda and fruit juice are basically liquid sugar, so limit or avoid also.    
  • This goes for alcohol too.   

Immune Strengthening Activities:

  • Blast your body (front and back) with a spray of cold water at the end of your shower. Yes, this is chilly, but it also increases the immune cells that kill viruses.
  • Gargle with salt water. Use about 1 tsp of salt to about 8oz of warm water. This increases immune defenses in your throat.
  • Neti pot sinus rinse. Use about 1 tsp salt to 8oz of distilled water. This can rinse viruses and bacteria out of your nasal cavity.

Supplements for Prevention: The following supplements can help strengthen your immunity.   

  • Elderberry 700-1000 milligrams per day of elderberry extract from syrup, capsules, or lozenges. When using syrup, check the label to make sure the exact amount of elderberry extract is reported. With some syrup, this could be as little as two teaspoons, and with others, it could require as much as four tablespoons (recommendation from Chris Masterjohn). (We like Designs for Health ImmunoBerry with Astragulus. 
  • Zinc Pills – 1mg, 3-4x per day.  Take on an empty stomach, but if you feel nausea, take with food but not with whole grains, nuts, seeds, or legumes (which includes lentils, peas, and beans) since these foods can block your ability to absorb the zinc. (We like Jarrow Zinc Balance since it also contains copper which is anti-viral also.) 
  • Zinc Lozenges – specifically zine acetate is the type that has been researched.  These lozenges dissolve in your mouth over a 30-minute time frame which allows it to completely coat your throat and nasal passage.  Suck one per day, more if you get sick, see below. (We like Life Extension Enhanced Zinc Acetate lozenges.) 
  • Probiotics – good gut health helps immune health.   
  • Immunoglobulins such as colostrum and serum bovine immunoglobulins balance the immune system in your gut. (We like Xymogen IgG 2000 or Ig26, Designs for Health Tegricel Colostrum, and Microbiome Labs MegaMucosa)
  • Mushrooms – such as cordyceps and reishi with beta-glucans. (We like the Real Mushrooms 5 Defenders product) (NOT recommended for those with autoimmune diseases. 
  • Vitamin A – 3,000 – 3,500 IUs per day. You can get from eating liver, fish, and eggs, or taking Cod Liver Oil. You can also supplement with retinol at that same dose(If you are pregnant or nursing check with us or your health care provider about your total vitamin A intake including multi-vitamins/prenatals) (We like Olde World Icelandic Cod Liver Oil from Garden of Life.) 
  • Vitamin D  Continue to supplement if your levels were tested low with 2,000-2,500 per day or 5,000 IUs every other day. Also, get your Vitamin D from the sun by exposing your skin to the sun without sunscreen, but only until your skin turns a little pink then cover up to avoid burning(We like Designs for Health Vitamin D Synergy or Supreme.)  
    • Please avoid higher doses of Vitamin A and D (which are typical for normal colds and flu). This virus is different and gets into your cells through the ACE2 receptor. This receptor is upregulated by Vitamins A and D, so in theory, taking high amounts could increase your risk. To be abundantly cautious, we’re recommending low doses.   
  • Vitamin C – 500 mg3x/day with meals(We like Vital Nutrients Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids.) 
  • Echinacea: 125 mg 250mg 3-4x/day. 
  • If you’re taking a calcium supplement it should contain phosphorous for proper mineral balance. Check with us or your other health care providers for a suitable product.  This mineral imbalance can increase your susceptibility. 

What to Do if You Do Get Sick  

  1. Stay home.  
  2. Call your doctor. There are also telemed options such as Roman TeleHealthan online service if you cannot or do not want to go to your doctor’s office. 
  3. Get tested if your doctor recommends it and has tests available. Many hospitals and doctor’s offices are short on tests.
  4. Honey for coughs – add a tsp to hot water or tea, drink several times per day.  
  5. Zinc Lozenges  specifically Life Extension Enhanced with Zinc Acetate – dissolve in your mouth completely, will take 30 minutes; suck on 5 per day, every 2 hours (only for 1 week). 
  6. NAC – 600 mg per day will help lung recovery. Take on an empty stomach. 
  7. Andrographis – reduces inflammation caused by the virus. (We like Gaia Rapid Immune Response or Wise Woman Herbals tincture.) 
  8. Increase your Vitamin C to 3,000-5,000 mg per day. If bowel movements become loose, decrease the dose. (We like Liposomal Vitamin C.)
  9. Double your probiotic dose.   
  10. Monolaurin – 3 grams, 2-3x/day. (We like Designs for Health Monolaurin-Avail.) 
  11. Continue the prevention supplements above.  
  12. Sleep and rest; do not work.   
  13. Other supplement recommendations may come forth as more information about the virus is known.   
  14. Use Tylenol (acetaminophen) instead of ibuprofen for pain or fever relief. Ibuprofen can be more detrimental to your lungs.  

Regarding supplements, we are stocking up as best we can against some backorders. Let us know if need products. ​

Remember that 80% or more of the cases result in only mild symptoms and most people are recovering.  Stay positive!  

Immune Boosting Recipes

Recipes 

 Roasted Garlic 
1-2 garlic cloves  
½ tsp olive oil 

  1. With the skin still on crush each clove with the side of your knife. This will break open the skin and the clove itself.  Let sit for 10 minutes.  
  2. Wrap in a small amount of tin foil and drizzle the olive oil over the clove(s). Keep the tin foil slightly open on top. I make a little tin foil “purse” for it and keep the top open a little.   
  3. Put in the toaster oven on bake setting at 300-350 degrees for 5-8 minutes.  
  4. Remove clove(s) carefully from tin foil (it will be hot) and remove the garlic skins.   
  5. Mince up garlic and add to your vegetables. Also delicious added to scrambled eggs.   

Jen’s Curried Lentils  
1 cup of French lentils, soaked for 4-6 hours with 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, then rinsed well   
1 small yellow onion, diced  
2 celery stocks, diced 
2 carrots, diced 
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, minced 
4 garlic cloves, minced 
1 TBSP coconut oil  
1-2 tsp cumin  
1-2 tsp turmeric 
1-2 tsp curry powder 
Pinch of cayenne (optional)  
4 cups of water or stock (you can buy chicken/ veggie stock in the same aisle as broth, but the stock does not contain the high amounts of sodium) 
2 cups of spinach leaves or chopped kale  

  1. In a pot sauté minced fresh ginger, garlic, onions, celery and carrots in coconut oil  
  2. Add cumin, turmeric, curry powder, and cayenne
  3. Cook until veggies are soft 
  4. Add lentils and 4 cups of water or chicken stock  
  5. Bring to boil 
  6. Reduce and simmer covered until lentils are cooked and water/ stock is absorbed 
  7. When finished add spinach or chopped kale and cook just until greens are wilted

Great for breakfast!

Makes 4-6 servings   

Coconut Chicken Vegetable Curry    
(can be made vegetarian without chicken) 
 
1 can of full-fat coconut milk  
1 pound of organic chicken breasts, boneless & skinless, cut into cubes (optional)  
1 small red onion, diced 
1 cup chopped broccoli 
1 cup chopped zucchini 
1 cup chopped cauliflower  
4-8 garlic cloves, minced (amount dependent on your love of garlic)  
1-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced  
1 TBSP turmeric powder  
1 TBSP curry powder  
1 TBSP cumin powder  
1 tsp garam masala 
½ tsp of salt and black pepper  
1 TBSP coconut oil  
1 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock  

  1. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet, wok or pot over medium heat  
  2. Add raw chicken and cook for about 8-10 minutes  
  3. Add onions, garlic, ginger, all spices, salt, and pepper, sauté until onions are soft 
  4. Add ½ cup chicken stock, all vegetables and cook 5-8 minutes longer until vegetables are soft  
  5. Add can of coconut milk, and the other half cup of stock, stir well   
  6. Cook for another 10 minutes until all flavors are blended  

Makes 3 – 4 servings  

 

Anti-Inflammatory Ginger Tea 
(from Dr. Rawls, Restore Guide 
Ginger is excellent for reducing inflammation in the entire GI tract. It helps to settle the stomach and reduce nausea.  Ginger has antiviral and immune-enhancing properties and is a synergist that helps other herbs work better.  Making ginger tea is easy!   

  1. Take a large piece of ginger, peel it by scraping it with the edge of a spoon. Slice/chop it into small pieces; enough for a double handful.
  2. Pour a gallon of spring water into a large pot and toss in the ginger pieces. Bring to a boil and then reduce to simmer for about 10 minutes. 
  3. Sweeten with honey if desired.  
  4. Strain/filter the tea back into the jug. Store in the refrigerator and enjoy several times a day.  

Option to drink cold or reheat and drink warm.   If caffeine is a necessity, add a couple of bags of green tea.  

 

Ginger Juice  
(from ChrisKresser.com) 

  1. Juice (or grate on a fine setting) 1–2 pounds of ginger; place juice in a jar and refrigerate 
  2. Place 2–4 ounces of ginger juice in a mug with the juice of half of one lemon and a large tablespoon of raw honey (honey is also anti-viral).  
  3. Add 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper and 6 ounces of hot water. 
  4. Drink 2–6 cups of this a day, sipping slowly throughout the day

     

Bone Broths

  • Can use any type of bones with some marrow and cartilage, such as raw bones or bones leftover from a bone-in meal or a rotisserie chicken carcass   
  • If using cooked bones, there is no need to roast first (as instructed below)  
  • Choose bones from organic and/ or grass-fed raised animals  
  • Drink 8-12 ounces per day warmed, or use in soups  
  • Cook on the stovetop or in a crockpot  

Beef Broth 
Makes about 4 quarts 
4 pounds of raw beef bones (marrow and knuckle work best); if frozen, defrost first  
2 onions, halved 
carrots, cut into large pieces 
2 bay leaves, fresh or dried (optional)  
2 tsp fresh thyme (optional) 
4 garlic cloves (optional) 
4 celery stalks, chopped  
1 cup parsley (optional) 
Note: the herbs and vegetables just add more flavor. You can simply just use bones for a super easy broth.   

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F and roast bones in a roasting pan for 15 minutes until well browned. Add ½ inch of water to the pan so drippings won’t burn or stick  
  2. This just adds more flavor, it can be skipped  
  3. Add everything from the roasting pan (be sure to scrape the bottom) and the rest of the ingredients to 6 quarts of water in a large stockpot  
  4. Bring to a boil 
  5. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 3 hours at least; can be simmered up to 12 hours, add more water if it evaporates   
         Crockpot option:  Cook on low heat for 8-12 hours  
  6. While simmering, periodically skim the top with a slotted spoon to remove impurities  
  7. Strain the stock through a small-holed, wire mesh colander  
  8. Cool completely in the refrigerator; once cooled excess fat will rise to the top, remove and discard  
  9. Store the cooled broth in glass mason jars for up to 1 week in the fridge; if it congeals (from using bones with a lot of fat) simply warm up and it will resume its broth-like consistency  
  10. To store for later use, freeze in freezer-safe plastic bags  

Drink 8-12 ounces per day of warmed broth for minerals and healing amino acids for gut health  

 

Chicken Broth  
4 – 6 lbs of raw bone-in chicken thighs or a whole chicken (cooked or raw, see separate directions below)  
4-6 Carrots, cut into large pieces  
4-6 Celery stalks, cut into large pieces  
4-6 Garlic cloves  
1-2 Onions, cut into large pieces 
Fresh Poultry herbs – rosemary, sage, thyme – about a TBSP of each  
Handful of parsley 
Sea Salt 
Black pepper 

Note: the herbs and vegetables just add more flavor.  You can simply just use bones for a super easy broth.   

Directions for Raw chicken

  1. Using a large stockpot or a crockpot, insert the raw full chicken or thighs.   
  2. Add the cut veggies.   
  3. Mince or press garlic, add to the pot.   
  4. Add parsley, herbs, salt, and pepper.  
  5. Fill the pot with filtered water, leaving 1 – 2” un-filled at the top.   
  6. Simmer for 4 – 5 hours on stovetop. 
    Crockpot option: 3-4 hours on high  
  7. Let the soup cool and remove the chicken using 2 spatulas or tongs.   
  8. Place the chicken on a plate and have an extra plate next to it.   
  9. Using kitchen tongs and forks peel the meat away from the bone and put the meat on the empty plate leaving behind any bones or inedible parts of the chicken.   
  10. Put the meat in the refrigerator.  
  11. Put the chicken bones back in the pot or crockpot with the broth and continue to cook for 8 hours or overnight.  Simmer for stovetop and low for the crockpot.  When done remove the bones and strain the soup.   
    Option for a shorter cook on the stovetop for only 4 hours if time is limited.  
  12. Strain the bones, herbs, and veggies so only the broth remains.    
  13. Put the broth in a large container and refrigerate.  The excess fat will solidify on top, you can remove and put the broth in smaller containers.   
  14. Freeze or use up within 7 days.   
  15. Drink 8-12 ounces of the warm broth daily, or use it and the chicken to make chicken soup.  

Directions for Pre-cooked Chicken Bones

  1. Pick the meat off of the chicken so only the bones and cartilage remain 
  2. Using a large stockpot or a crockpot, insert the bones.    
  3. Add the cut veggies.   
  4. Mince or press garlic, add to the pot.   
  5. Add parsley, herbs, salt, and pepper.  
  6. Fill the pot with filtered water, leaving 1 – 2” un-filled at the top.   
  7. Simmer for 4 – 8 hours on stovetop on low.  
    Crockpot option: Cook for 4-8 hours on low. 
  8. Strain the bones, herbs, and veggies so only the broth remains.    
  9. Put broth in a large container and refrigerate.  The excess fat will solidify on top, you can remove and put the broth in smaller containers.   
  10. Freeze or use up within 7 days.   
  11. Drink 8-12 ounces of the warm broth daily, or use it to make chicken soup.  

Making Chicken Soup 
2-3 carrots, peeled and diced  
2-3 celery stalks, peeled and diced  
1 large onion, diced 
3-4 garlic cloves, minced   
2 bay leaves  
1 TBSP each of fresh herbs: rosemary, sage, thyme or 1 tsp each of dried herbs  
Handful of fresh parsley 
1 tsp sea salt 
1 tsp black pepper 
1 cup wild rice (optional)  

  1. Sauté veggies in large stock pot with coconut oil until tender 
  2. Add garlic and sauté another couple of minutes  
  3. Add broth created from Chicken Bone Broth recipe  
  4. Add chicken, picked off of bones from Chicken Bone Broth recipe  
  5. Add bay leaves, herbs, parsley, salt and pepper  
  6. Simmer for 1 hour until all flavors are blended  
  7. Salt and pepper further to taste if needed  
  8. Add rice and cook for another 20-30 minutes until rice is tender  

Take care of each other and stay positive. 

For more information and resources on COVID-19, please read our other blogs: 

COVID-19 Stress, Anxiety, and Isolation Support

COVID-19 Support for Kids