So many of us struggle with weak immune systems during the cold months of the year. We’re endlessly fighting a running nose or scratchy throat, and feeling run-down is simply the way we run our lives. But not everyone battles winter illness. There are always a few who seem to dodge every nasty bug that makes its way around the office. So what’s their secret?
If there’s one thing that people with strong immune systems know, it’s that immunity is maintained on your plate. Just as your diet is the key to looking youthful, the foods you eat have the power to support— or seriously compromise— how well you fight off illness. Sugar is a major saboteur of your immunity, so steer clear of sweet stuff (that means orange juice too!) if you feel a cold coming on.
Last winter I wrote an Organic Spa magazine column about my favorite immunity-boosting beauty foods, from green tea to salmon and sauerkraut. These are the secret staples of any beauty-friendly kitchen during the winter months. But once you haul them home in a grocery bag, what will you do with them? For a quick, hearty supper that supports your immunity (as well as a trim waistline and glowing skin), try my Smoky Chipotle Farro, below. This spicy dish revs up your immune system with three immune superstars: garlic, mushrooms and kale. I like to combine several different varieties of mushrooms (this is a forgiving dish to use to experiment with all the unfamiliar mushrooms found in your grocery store), from shiitake to oyster to plain old white button. Use them to get through the winter sniffle-free!
Smoky Chipotle Farro
While farro isn’t a completely gluten-free grain, it’s low in gluten, and therefore easier to digest. For a fully gluten-free sub, try buckwheat.
2 cups farro, soaked in water for 20 minutes and drained
3 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp coconut oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 lb mushrooms, sliced
1/4 tsp sea salt
6 kale leaves, stemmed and chopped
15 oz can kidney beans*
15 oz can diced tomatoes*
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped, plus 1 tsp sauce*
In a medium pot, combine farro and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, about 15 minutes, until broth is almost fully absorbed.
While farro cooks, melt coconut oil in a large pan over low heat and add garlic, mushrooms and salt. Cook until mushrooms begin to soften, then raise heat slightly and add kale. When kale is wilted, remove from heat.
When farro is ready, add beans, tomatoes, chipotle pepper, adobo sauce and cooked veggies into the pot and stir to combine. Heat for 2 to 3 minutes more before serving.
*Look for these ingredients in BPA-free cans, from companies like Eden Organics, or in tetra-packs.