10 Immune-Boosting Recipes (That’ll Become Staples)

Fill your plate with these bright bites and guard against cold and flu at the same time.

by Emily Shiffer Health Writer

Wintertime is notorious as the season of colds and flu. And this year especially, you may be looking for ways to make sure you don’t get sick. In addition to rest and exercise, diet plays a huge role in immunity-boosting. While there’s no single food or ingredient that can wham-bam boost immune health, eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods during winter can help keep your immune system functioning at its best, says Seattle-based registered dietitian nutritionist Ginger Hultin, R.D., owner of ChampagneNutrition in Seattle. The emphasis should be on variety, she says: “Different vitamins and minerals are needed as the building blocks to enzymes and cells that are involved in our immune response.”

But you don’t have to come up with a meal plan on your own. Get started with these 10 recipes, each filled with immunity-boosting goodness to help keep you healthy this winter.

Breakfast

Wild Blueberry Sweet Potato Wheat Bread

“Blueberries and sweet potatoes are both high in antioxidants and anthocyanins to help keep the immune system healthy,” says Sarah Schlichter, R.D., a registered dietitian nutritionist who owns the food blog Bucket List Tummy in Washington, D.C. “Eat this for breakfast for a boost of vitamins A and C, which help with immunity. Slathered with peanut butter or yogurt, it's a tasty, complete meal.”

Ingredients

  • 1 egg

  • 1 cup mashed sweet potatoes, about 2 medium

  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted

  • ¼ cup plain greek yogurt, I used fat-free

  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • ½ cup oat flour, oats grinded into flour

  • ⅓ cup coconut sugar

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ½ tsp baking powder

  • ½ tsp baking soda

  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries (plus extra for topping)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 and grease 9x5 inch loaf pan.

  2. Add the egg, mashed sweet potatoes, coconut oil, greek yogurt and maple syrup to a bowl. Whisk until combined.

  3. To another bowl, add flour, oat flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix the dry into the wet ingredients, folding the blueberries in last. The batter should be thick.

  4. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

  5. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Healthy Pumpkin Pie Breakfast Bake

pumpkin bake
Courtesy of Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN of ChampagneNutrition

“A cup of pumpkin offers nearly 200 percent of your daily value of vitamin A and it offers some vitamin C and iron as well,” says Hultin. “This lightly sweet breakfast presentation is filling and contains anti-inflammatory spices like cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg.”

Ingredients

  • 3 whole wheat English muffins, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 1 medium apple (consider Honeycrisp or Pink Lady)

  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

  • 2 eggs, beaten

  • 1½ cups unsweetened oat or soy milk

  • ½ 15-oz can pumpkin save the rest for another recipe!

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 2 tbsp brown sugar

  • ½ tsp salt

  • ½ tsp ground ginger

  • ⅛ tsp ground cloves

  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Instructions

  1. Lightly coat an 8x8 baking pan with cooking oil.

  2. Place the English muffin pieces on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes until they're lightly toasted and have started to brown.

  3. While the muffins are baking, combine the apples and half the cinnamon in a mixing bowl. When the English muffins are done cooking, add them and toss the mixture to coat. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish.

  4. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, pumpkin, vanilla, sugar, salt, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg. Pour it over the English muffin mixture and gently press any pieces of bread into the mixture so they are coated. Cover the dish with foil or plastic and refrigerate it for up to 12 hours, or overnight. Be sure to let it sit for at least 1 hour if you're baking it the same day you make it.

  5. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the dish for 55-60 minutes until the edges are slightly browned. Let it cool and set before serving (about 15 minutes).

  6. Drizzle the bake with maple syrup before serving it. Add extra as needed/desired!

No Bake Blueberry Oatmeal Bars

“Blueberries are a good source of vitamin C and fiber,” says Amber Pankonin, R.D., a registered dietitian and owner of Stirlist in Lincoln, NE. "The combination of oatmeal and blueberries both provide good nutrients for gut health, which is important to help support your immune system.”

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dry quick oats

  • 1 cup pecan pieces

  • ½ cup dried unsweetened cranberries (or raisins if you prefer)

  • ½ cup crunchy peanut butter

  • 6 tbsp honey or agave nectar

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine oats, pecans, and cranberries. Mix on low speed. Add in peanut butter and honey. Once those items are fully mixed, gently fold in blueberries by hand.

  2. Line an 8-inch square pan with wax paper and spread the mixture in the pan. Using your hands, press the mixture into the pan. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Snack

Baked Veggie Chips

veggie chips
Jonathan Valdez, RDN of Genki Nutrition

“These chips are baked instead of fried which makes them trans-fat free and the fat content lower overall. They’re loaded with vitamin A which helps with vision, is anti-inflammatory and helps with the integrity of your skin (the first layer of defense),” says New York City-based Jonathan Valdez, R.D., a registered dietitian nutritionist at Genki Nutrition and spokesperson for New York State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “These chips are high in antioxidants, which aid in preventing inflammation. They have tons of fiber to help keep you full, which helps prevent weight gain.”

Ingredients

  • Your choice of veggies, but highly recommended: sweet potatoes, beets, zucchini, carrots, rutabaga, etc.

  • ½ tsp of sea salt

  • ½ tsp of pepper

  • Oil of choice (avocado oil is a great one for this recipe!)

Instructions

(It is highly recommended you use a mandolin to cut the slices thinly.)

  1. First, wash and clean your vegetables. You can choose to peel them if desired.

  2. With either a knife or a mandolin, slice the vegetables into thin-shaped disks

  3. Lay the veggies on a paper towel and sprinkle salt all over them. Pat dry and let sit for around 15 minutes. This will allow the veggies to sweat out any extra moisture and make the chips extra-crisp!

  4. Lay the chips on a baking pan. Sprinkle on pepper and any other seasoning of choice. Lightly toss with oil.

  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. After 15, rotate the pan for an additional 15 minutes. You can bake longer to achieve the level of crispiness you desire.

Lunch

Broccoli Kale Salad With Lemon Garlic Alaska Salmon

“Salmon is one of the few food sources high in vitamin D, which plays a role in helping to activate the immune system, as well as essential anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids,” says Schlichter. “Many people are low in vitamin D, especially in the winter months, so incorporating regular food sources is helpful. This salad includes kale and broccoli, which offer a slew of immune boosting nutrients, like antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. Bonus: The vitamin C can also help with iron absorption, which aids with immunity.”

Ingredients

  • 2 Alaska salmon filets

  • salt and pepper

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 clove garlic

  • 2 tsp lemon juice

  • 1 bunch of kale or kale salad mix

  • ½ bunch asparagus, chopped

  • 2 cups broccoli florets, chopped

  • 1 lemon

  • ⅓ cup dried cranberries

  • ⅓ cup grape tomatoes, halved

  • Lemon Honey Dressing

  • 3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • Juice from 2 lemons

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Season your salmon with salt and pepper.

  2. Add olive oil to a pan over medium high to high heat. Once hot, add salmon filets. Cook for about 3 minutes, skin side down. Flip the filets and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

  3. Remove filets from pan when done and put them on a plate. Add garlic clove and lemon juice to pan and stir. Add salmon filets back in and mix, letting them soak up the juice.

  4. Turn off heat and place salmon filets aside.

  5. Add broccoli and asparagus to medium pan and sauté with olive oil over medium high heat. While broccoli and asparagus are cooking, prepare the kale salad.

  6. Remove stems, wash and massage your kale leaves. Dry them, and place in a bowl. Add olive oil, juice from 1 lemon and sea salt. Peel carrots and add to salad.

  7. Once broccoli and asparagus are done, add them to salad bowl. Add salmon filets in, and garnish with dried cranberries and grape tomatoes.

  8. Top with additional carrot peels, if desired.

  9. To make the lemon dressing, whisk ingredients in small bowl or shake them in a jar. Adjust to taste. Serve dressing along with salad.

No Bake Greek Bites

Bell peppers and broccoli are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and fiber,” says Pankonin. “Filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables is a great way to get the nutrients your body needs in order to prevent nutrient deficiencies.”

Ingredients

  • Pita Bread Pocket - Whole Wheat

  • 2 tbsp Hummus

  • 1 cup Persian cucumbers (sliced, quartered)

  • 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes (quartered)

  • 1 baby bell pepper (sliced)

  • 5 olives low-sodium (sliced)

  • 1 tbsp red onion

  • 2 tbsp Virgin Olive Oil

  • 2 tbsp White Vinegar

  • ¼ tsp pepper

  • Dash of salt (or 1/8 tsp)

  • 2 tbsp goat cheese crumbles

Instructions

  1. Chop and combine cucumbers, tomatoes, olives, bell pepper, red onion, olive oil, vinegar, pepper, and salt. Mix all ingredients together. Set aside.

  2. Spread hummus on pita bread and then top with vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with goat cheese, slice, and serve.

Dinner

Healthy Minestrone Soup

minestrone
Courtesy of Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN owner of ChampagneNutrition

“Maximize vitamin C and a number of B-vitamins from the tomato, whole grain pasta, and other veggies in this simple, vegan-friendly soup,” says Hultin. “This minestrone is easy to make and freezes well for meal prep.”

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion diced

  • 2 carrots peeled and cut into rounds

  • ½ pound green beans trimmed and cut in half

  • 1 zucchini halved and cut into ¼-inch half-moons

  • 1 yellow squash halved and cut into ¼-inch half-moons

  • 3 cloves garlic minced

  • 1 tsp dried basil

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp black pepper

  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes

  • 4 cups vegetable broth

  • 1 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 cup whole wheat or bean pasta spirals

  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. In a large soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium-high heat then add the onion, carrots, beans, zucchini, and squash and cook for 12 minutes or until onions are translucent and vegetables soften. Add the garlic, basil, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

  2. Add tomatoes and broth. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring the soup to a boil. Then cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and let simmer for 15 minutes. If needed, another cup of water ½ cup at a time.

  3. Add the canned beans and uncooked pasta; then cook, uncovered, for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the pasta is tender. Garnish with crushed red pepper flakes.

Garlic Turmeric Parsnip Fries

“Garlic and turmeric are both known for their anti-inflammatory properties and can help strengthen the immune system,” says Schlichter. “These parsnip fries have both, and are a great, healthy side dish for any meal, and a great way to include more plants in your diet!”

Ingredients

  • 3-4 large parsnips

  • ¼ cup avocado oil (or olive oil)

  • 1 tsp garlic powder

  • ½ tsp minced garlic

  • 1 tsp turmeric

  • Sea salt, to taste

  • 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

  2. Slice parsnips in even slices and toss in small bowl with avocado oil. Add garlic and turmeric.

  3. Transfer parsnips to baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and parmesan cheese and bake for 15 minutes.

  4. Take baking sheet out and carefully flip parsnips with a spatula. Sprinkle with more parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake for 15 more minutes, until parsnips are evenly browned.

Dessert

Pomegranate Chia Pudding With Amaretto Aquafaba Whip

chia pomegranate
Courtesy of Ginger Hultin, MS, RDN owner of ChampagneNutrition

“There's nearly 10 mg of vitamin C in just a half-cup of pomegranate arils (seeds) and they also offer a beautiful presentation to this chia seed pudding that you can enjoy for breakfast or a snack or even a dessert,” says Hultin. “Use vitamin D-fortified dairy or non-dairy milk to boost your intake of that critical nutrient through food.”

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup chia seeds

  • 1 cup unsweetened soy milk

  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

  • 1½ cups pomegranate arils

Amaretto Aquafaba Whip

  • 1 15.5 oz can chickpeas, liquid separated from the beans

  • 1 tsp cream of tartar

  • ½ cup powdered sugar

  • 1 tsp amaretto non-alcohol substitution, ½ tsp almond extract

Instructions

  1. Combine the chia seeds, soy milk, and vanilla in a small to medium mixing bowl with a whisk then cover it and set it in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Stir it well as it starts to thicken then keep it covered in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours. Overnight works well, too.

  2. When the chia pudding is firm, assemble the mini mason jars or small bowls by placing a layer (about 1-2 tablespoons) of pomegranate arils on the bottom of each then topping with about ¼ cup of chia pudding then topping with another 2-3 tablespoons of arils.

  3. Right before serving, prepare the whip by putting the chickpea liquid in a large mixer and beating it for 5 minutes until it starts to froth. Add the cream of tartar and continue whipping for another 4-5 minutes until it really starts to thicken. Add the powdered sugar while whipping and when the peaks are stiff and it looks like whipped cream, add in the amaretto and whip it for another 1 minute.

Apple Pie Bars

apple pie bars
Courtesy of Amber Pankonin, RD of Stirlist

“The bars are a healthy alternative for anyone who needs a quick pick-me-up snack, or usually grabs breakfast in a rush,” says Valdez. “They’re high in fiber and full of vitamins A, B, C, E, and K as well as potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, and phosphorus. Vitamin C prevents free radicals in the body, and helps the immune system adapt to new viruses.”

Ingredients

Dough

  • 2½ cups oats

  • 1½ cup almond flour

  • 1½ cup oat flour (You can blend oats into oat flour)

  • 1½ bananas, mashed

  • ¼ cup dates, pitted

  • ¼ cup hot water

  • 2 tsp baking powder

  • ½ cup of coconut milk

Apple Filling

  • 5 small granny smith apples, diced

  • 2 tsp cinnamon

  • 1½ tbsp arrowroot powder (or cornstarch)

  • 2 tsp coconut oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  2. Blend hot water and dates into a paste.

  3. Mix date paste with dough ingredients by hand in a bowl. Form into a dough.

  4. Remove 1/3 of dough and set aside.

  5. Press the remainder of the dough into a baking dish (13 in. x 9 in.).

  6. Heat coconut oil in a pot. Add apples and cinnamon.

  7. When apples cook down and release water, add arrowroot powder/cornstarch. The apple filling will thicken.

  8. Spread apple filling over the pressed dough.

  9. Crumble remainder of the dough over the apple filling.

  10. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before cutting.

Diet and Immune Function: Nutrients. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6723551/

Emily Shiffer
Meet Our Writer
Emily Shiffer

Emily Shiffer is a former digital web producer for Men’s Health and Prevention, and is currently a freelancer writer specializing in health, wellness, weight loss, and fitness. She is currently based in Pennsylvania and loves all things antiques, cilantro, and American history.