The blustery weather and sniffles at the office hold a foreboding omen – you may be the next on the list to catch this season’s flu or cold. Instead of being held up inside all weekend with a box of tissues and a bottle of cough syrup, read on to see what immune boosting superfoods are in season at your local farmer’s market. Wandering stalls filled with organic produce, artesian cheeses, winter blooms and handcrafted jewelry is a much better way to spend your day, anyway!
Winter is prime citrus season, with Navel Oranges, tangerines, grapefruits and blood oranges stacked high in many farmers’ stalls. You’ve probably heard many tales about the importance of Vitamin C during cold and flu season, but do you know why? Vitamin C helps to increase white blood cell count, critical to fighting off infections which may help reduce cold symptoms.
2. Leafy Greens
Greens somehow always make the list when it comes to eating and feeling better, and they don’t escape this one. Kale and spinach (both in season now) are high in immune boosters and antioxidants like vitamin C and vitamin E that help to fight illness. To retain the most amount of nutrients found in these vegetables, try and cook it as little as possible – opt for a fresh salad or a green smoothie instead of a buttery sauté.
Note: Spinach and Kale are included in the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen and therefore it’s always recommended you buy this produce organic – perfect if you’re already at the farmer’s market!
Not the biggest cauliflower fan? While we think using cauliflower in “non-traditional” recipes like cauliflower rice or mashed faux-tatos will trick your taste buds, you can always opt for Brussels sprouts or broccoli instead. Each of these produce offerings contains antioxidant vitamins A, C and E. If you are a cauliflower fan, you’re in luck, a head of this white stuff also contains the antioxidant glutathione which helps your body fight off infection.
Don’t shy away from the knobby carrots at a farmer’s market. Although they can look different than what you’re used to seeing in a grocery store, these crunchy characters are not only good for your eyesight, but the beta-carotene found in carrots also helps our nose and throats while boosting immunity. Bugs Bunny may just have been on to something – he never did seem under the weather, did he?
Although antioxidants and vitamin C may be the first nutrients to consider when searching for immune boosting foods, zinc is an important mineral that also encourages a healthy immune system. The zinc in mushrooms has been shown to increase white blood cells which actively help to fight off infections.
Now that you know what should be on your list – get to writing it down! We’ve created a handy, free printable shopping list that you can plan your farmer’s market shopping day around (if you haven’t already completed your list on your smart phone). And, since we know farmer’s market shopping isn’t just about stocking up on fresh produce, we’ve included a few lines for some additional items – you don’t want to forget those homemade salted caramel squares (yum!).
If you’re ready to plan a few immune boosting meals, add additional ingredients from the recipes below (found on Pinterest) to your shopping list.
Do you have a favorite farmer’s market find and way to enjoy or prepare it? Share it with us in the comments below.