You’ve all read the news, or at least heard the scary stats from this year’s flu season.  Ick!  So, in addition to all those preventative measures you’ve already been relying on, check out this list of helpful, immune boosting additions you can put in your soups this winter.

According to Nutritionist Molly Gerster, the best soups are ones that contain:

Liquid – of course all soups contain a broth or stock to make them be… well… soupy, but did you know one of the leading causes of congestion is dehydration?  As the months get cold a nice glass of water is often the last thing we want, however, we need extra hydration in the winter to produce mucous to rid our bodies of invading pathogens in our nose and throat, so slurp up!

Garlic – garlic is a natural antimicrobial and antibiotic.  With other strong flavors in a soup the powerful taste of garlic can be masked, so chop in a few extra cloves than your recipe calls for, and let mother nature’s antibiotic do its work.

Veggies – greens and other veggies are full of vitamins and minerals that keep us healthy:  Vitamins C and A, and a host of minerals.  Most of these vitamins and minerals are co-factors in cellular reproduction, and the better our cells divide the faster our immune response.  For suspicious youngsters, purée the veggies before adding them into the soup so they cannot be picked out!  Additionally, unlike other methods of cooking vegetables, when you cook veggies in soup, all the nutrients stay within the soup becoming a nutrient rich broth.  Soups and stews are also a great way to get little ones to eat some extra veggies in the winter months, and studies have proven that kids who eat soup are better overall vegetable eaters.

Whole grains – add some whole grains to your soups.  Whole grains are a great source of energy, fiber, and micronutrients like selenium and zinc that reduce inflammation and boost immunity.  Whole grains also provide fiber for you gastrointestinal flora to eat.  The bacteria in your intestines are key players in your immune response.  Try adding in barley, brown rice, whole grain pasta, quinoa or faro.

Lean protein – protein is an excellent source of zinc.  Zinc is one of the best immune boosting minerals.  Protein is also key in the reproduction of immune cells, so having a good store of protein in your body will boost the speed of you immune response should you get sick.  The protein in soup is also generally softer, more flavorful, and easier to chew than plain meats, which often appeals to younger eaters.

Easy to make – Soups are pretty foolproof for even the most inexperienced chef.  Start with a base of diced onions, celery, and carrots sautéed in olive oil.  From there add stock, a whole grain, protein, any veggies you have on hand, and some flavorings like Parmesan, salt/pepper, herbs and/or spices.  Simmer and enjoy!

Thank you Molly!  And to all you moms out there, stay healthy, because you know there is no such thing as taking a “sick day” when you are a MOM!

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