I used to get sick all. the. time. It actually became a constant joke in my immediate family. If I was standing in a room of 3,000 people and one person had a cold, like clockwork in a couple days I’d start feeling a runny nose creep up. Chalk it up to my less-than-desirable lifestyle back in the day (pizza, beer, college…ringing any boozy-bells?) but constantly fighting off a virus sucks. I’m not trying to stand up on my soapbox and preach at you, but I don’t consider it strictly coincidence that when I began to change the way I ate, it changed the way I felt.
As we are currently sandwiched in between the flurry of Thanksgiving and the whirlwind of Christmas, it’s officially “that time of year.” And let’s face it, we tend to get sick more often around this time. That’s why we should aim to take a preventative approach! But that doesn’t mean staying in and missing out on all the spiked eggnog…let’s do it the fun way; let’s cook (and of course, eat) ourselves healthy! Check it:
I’m going to show you how! It’s easy. This creamy, simple, flavorful soup is brimming with good-for-you ingredients that will have you fighting off free radicals, battling viruses, and flipping any impending infections the bird.
Sweet Potatoes: just one cup provides over 1000x your daily recommendation of Vitamin A…this vitamin’s metabolite (Retinoic Acid) may help stimulate the pro-inflammatory immune response to overcome infection.
Ginger: studies show ginger root activates T-cells (your body’s white blood cells that destroy cells infected with viruses) to help balance the immune system and restore it to proper functioning.
Cilantro: these piquant leaves provide Vitamin C, which stimulates white blood cells (especially neutrophils, lymphocytes, and phagocytes) to attack foreign bacteria as well as protect our cells from oxidative damage.
Peanuts: believe it or not; those 6 billion spoonfuls of peanut butter you inhaled when you were sad were actually beneficial to your bod. Peanuts are a good source of vitamin E, which new research is showing may mitigate stress on our immune system (ie. a cold virus) and protect us when we’re sick.
Tomatoes: bursting with lycopene, this carotenoid is a mega-powerful antioxidant that enhances the action of natural-killer cells and B-cells, diminishes oxidative damage to DNA and decreases abnormal cell devision.
Toss those tissues. And…EAT UP.
Chunky Peanut Stew
Makes ~8 servings
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh ginger root, grated
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 shallots, diced
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1/2 cup creamy natural peanut butter (no salt, sugar, or oil in there mmmkay)
- 6 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup quinoa, dry
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 14-oz block firm tofu
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/2-1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup roasted peanuts, for garnish
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, for garnish
- First get dat tofu pressed to release excess moisture. Line a plate with a couple paper towels, stick the block of tofu on top, and cover with another plate. Put something heavy (I fancy 2 or 3 cans) and let it balance on top for 15-20 minutes, until paper towels are soaked through. Remove tofu and cut into cubes. Set aside.
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium high. Toss in ginger, garlic, and shallots and saute for 3 to 5 minutes until fragrant and softened.
- Add in the sweet potatoes, peanut butter, tomatoes, paprika, cumin, coriander, and chili powder. Mix until all ingredients are combined. Pour broth in and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 10 minutes.
- Throw in the quinoa and cook for 5-7 minutes more. Then add in tofu and continue cooking another 7-10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender and quinoa has sprouted (quinoa is properly cooked when the seeds have “sprouted” into little white kernels). Stir in the spinach, add in salt and pepper, and serve warm with cilantro/peanuts on top. Add more salt/peppa if you think it needs more zest. Ya dig?