The holidays are, for many, a time to gather with family and celebrate with holiday feasts. The holiday season is also flu and coronavirus season, which means safety and staying healthy are priorities. In a time of social distancing, wearing masks, avoiding touching your face and washing your hands often, boosting your immune system is a top priority.
And you can do that without sacrificing classic holiday dishes. Check out these five tips to tweak your menu and offer vitamin-packed twists on classics for healthy holiday meals.
When it comes to appetizers, it’s easy to add some immunity-boosting options in fun combinations:
- Garlic and ginger are both immunity-boosters that also boast antiviral properties. Make sure these two flavor fillers have priority seating in any dips or sauces on the menu.
- Adding almonds or sunflower seeds to your salad is one thing, but making these nuts and seeds available at the appetizer bar adds a nutrient-rich, immunity-boosting option.
- Are you offering a ranch dip? Consider a Greek yogurt substitution sweetened with a drizzle of honey. The yogurt provides a source of vitamin D, which is an immune system regulator. And honey is naturally antibacterial and antiviral.
2. Main Dish Marinades
A marinade is a great way to add flavor — whether it’s for turkey, beef, fish or a vegetarian option — and double up on vitamins and antiviral foods.
- Oregano, rosemary, sage, thyme and cloves are antiviral herbs and spices worth adding to your marinade for a little extra protection and a quality flavor punch. When combined, these all mix well with oranges and other citrus fruits.
- And about those citrus fruits — they are packed with flavor, antioxidants and vitamins, such as vitamin C and potassium, that boost your immune system. Sticking to yellow and orange citrus means you are also choosing fruits with antiviral properties. Consider adding some sliced and zested oranges, lemons, limes, and maybe even a bit of grapefruit to maximize your marinade for health and immunity.
3. Salads and Dressings
Salads are a great opportunity to enjoy flavorful, fresh, and vitamin-rich foods. Look also to salad mix-ins and dressings for fun ways to sneak in a variety of immunity-boosting powerhouse foods.
- Broccoli is an A-list veggie. This superfood is packed with vitamins and minerals. Include broccoli florets in your crudité platter, and you can also chop it up and add it to your salad for an immunity boost.
- Throw in some spinach. Dark green veggies are packed with vitamins and antioxidants and spinach is among the healthiest you can add to your salad. Its vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and iron will keep you and your immune system powered up.
- Coordinate your salad dressing with your marinade to double up on the vitamin power. Choose dressing options, whether a yogurt base or olive oil, that have a tangy citrus add-on available.
4. Side Dishes
Side dishes are some of the most popular parts of the holiday feast. Everybody has their favorite, and there is a vast opportunity for vitamin-packed variety.
- Cruciferous veggies like kale and cauliflower are a powerful way to add vitamins and minerals to your dishes while providing foods that fight viruses and even cancer.
- Consider serving warm beets for your salad, or combine them with a soft cheese. Anything orange, such as squash or pumpkin, also offers a superfood antiviral option.
- Mushrooms are also a great choice, being rich in immunity-boosting B-vitamins. Plus, they’re packed with antiviral properties, antioxidants, and brain-boosting adaptogens. As a bonus, mushrooms can be added raw to a salad, sauteed with garlic or stuffed and baked with olive compote or tapenade.
Despite what you might think, you can also maximize the immunity-fighting vitamin content of your desserts! By offering a few options, you can add an impressive buffet of deceivingly healthful options.
- Pie is a crowd-pleaser that can offer healthful options. Not only can you provide healthy fillings, but you have plenty of ways to reduce the sugar content, too. Apples are a delicious go-to filling option and pumpkin offers the highest vitamin and antiviral properties.
- Dark chocolate is also a favorite that offers antioxidants and plenty of immune system support. Serve it up as after-dinner chocolate bites or melt and drizzle over your pie or ice cream. As long as it’s high-quality chocolate without too much added sugar, you’ll hit the mark.
Opting for a virtual family get-together this year? Here’s a few fun ideas to make it a memorable event.