Immune Boosting Foods

Cold and flu season aren’t over just yet (not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic) and in addition to good handwashing techniques, you can help to boost your immune system through the foods that you eat. 

Vitamin C is an antioxidant (stops oxidation/damage to cells) and helps your body to better absorb iron. Both of these functions are important for your immune system. You’ll find vitamin C in foods like:

  • Citrus fruits (oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, and grapefruit)
  • Red bell peppers
  • Papaya 
  • Mango
  • Spinach and other dark leafy greens
  • Broccoli
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes

Zinc is an important part of making protein for the healing process. Some zinc containing foods include:

  • Beef
  • Dark meat chicken
  • Pork chops
  • Crab
  • Clams
  • Chickpeas
  • Hemp seeds
  • Lentils
  • Oatmeal

Vitamin E is also an antioxidant. It also helps keep your immune system strong against viruses and other bacteria because it helps with the creation of your red blood cells. Vitamin E is found in: 

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Avocados
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pine nuts
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Rainbow trout
  • Kiwi

Flavonoids rich in antioxidants and can help your body stay healthy and possibly decrease your risk of some chronic health conditions. Various flavonoids are found in:

  • Green tea
  • Black tea
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Elderberries

Check out the following recipes for a few ways to include some of these immune-boosting foods in your diet. Recipes from MayoClinic.org. 

Fresh Fruit Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple chunks
  • 1/2 cup cantaloupe or other melon chunks
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries
  • Juice of 2 oranges
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 tablespoon honey

Directions

Remove rind from pineapple and melon. Cut into chunks. Remove stems from strawberries. Place all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth. Serve cold.

Fresh Fruit Kebabs

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces low-fat, sugar-free lemon yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 4 pineapple chunks (about 1/2 inch each)
  • 4 strawberries
  • 1 kiwi, peeled and quartered
  • 1/2 banana, cut into 4 1/2-inch chunks
  • 4 red grapes
  • 4 wooden skewers

Directions

In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt, lime juice and lime zest. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

Thread 1 of each fruit onto the skewer. Repeat with the other skewers until the fruit is gone. Serve with the lemon lime dip.

Whole-Wheat Blueberry Pancakes

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup white whole-wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen whole blueberries

Directions

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, sugar and cinnamon together.

In another bowl, beat milk, egg and oil together. Add the liquid mixture to the flour mixture, and stir until the flour is moistened.

Add blueberries and stir gently.

Coat a griddle or skillet with cooking spray and heat to medium-high heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot griddle and cook until browned. Flip and brown the other side.

Written by Keri Smith, Lead Dietitian

Free Lunches in the Inland Northwest During COVID-19

A number of school districts in our area will be distributing free lunches throughout this time. Check out the list below for resources in your area (please visit each website to confirm availability):


Spokane Public Schools:

Spokane schools will begin distributing grab-and-go breakfast and lunch meals every weekday at schools beginning Thursday, March 19 from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. These meals are offered to any child 18 years or younger. To see where these meals are being handed out, click here.

Central Valley School District:

The Central Valley School District has 11 designated locations for meal pickup, beginning Tuesday, March 17. These meals are open to any student – even those not registered in the CVSD. However, parents and/or guardians must bring the children with them during pickup to receive those meals. To see a full list of those pickup locations, click here.

East Valley School District:

The East Valley School District is still determining how it will support students and their families during the closure. At this time, no meal pickup plans have been put into place. To read a letter from Superintendent Kelly Shea discussing the district’s plans, click here.

West Valley School District:

West Valley schools will provide breakfast and lunch meals to students in the district beginning Tuesday, March 17. All of the district’s elementary schools, Centennial Middle School, and West Valley High School will distribute meals between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. More information is available here.

Mead School District:

Meal service for Mead schools will begin Monday, March 23. Meals will be delivered to various hubs throughout the school district, but those locations have not yet been determined. You can read more information on the district’s response here.

Deer Park School District:

Breakfast and lunch grab-and-go meals will be offered to students in the Deer Park School District beginning Thursday, March 19. Distribution will take place between 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at Deer Park Elementary, Deer Park Middle, and Deer Park Home Link (beginning Monday, March 23). Students needing meals are asked to fill out a form to the district is prepared with enough meals ahead of time. A link to that sign-up sheet and more information is available here.

Cheney School District:

Breakfast and lunch meals will be distributed beginning Wednesday, March 18 between 9 – 10:30 a.m. No specific pickup location or times have been determined yet. You can read more from the district here.

Medical Lake School District:

Meal pickup plans have not been finalized by the district. The Medical Lake School District will have an update by Thursday, March 19, with how it’ll proceed with services like meal distribution. You can read the latest from Superintendent Timothy Ames here.

Pullman School District:

Each school in the Pullman School district will be open for meal pickup beginning Wednesday, March 18, between 7:30 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. The district will also send vans out into the community to deliver meals to designated locations for those who cannot get to the schools. The breakfast and lunch meals will be grab-and-go style and free to any student. Families are free to pick those meals up at any school in the district. To see more information on those distribution locations and times, click here.

Moses Lake School District:

The district said food service plans are in progress to have a neighborhood meal program for breakfast and lunch, but no further specifics have been shared. Read more here.

Coeur d’Alene School District:

Breakfast and lunch meal pickup will begin Wednesday, March 18, at several different schools throughout the district between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. You can find those specific locations here.

Moscow School District:

Students in the Moscow School District are on spring break from March 16 – 20. However, the schools will be closed through April 6. In a letter to district families, Superintendent Gregory Bailey says the district is working to make lunch available to students once spring break is over. More information is expected closer to the end of spring break. You can read Bailey’s letter here.

Additionally, the Mad Greek restaurant is offering free lunches for kids for the next three weeks. Those lunch meals include a slice of pizza or a cup of soup. Meal pickup is available from 2 – 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday. More information is available here.

Lewiston School District:

Meal pickup will be available from March 16 – 20 at Jenifer Jr. High and Sacajawea Jr. High for any Lewiston School District students and members of their household 18 years and younger from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. Family members older than 18 will be able to purchase meals from the schools. More information is available here.