As we head into the winter months, eating nutritious meals becomes more important than ever. Entering the oncoming flu season means it's time to perk up our immune systems with healthy foods—but that's easier said than done.
If your kids are picky eaters, it might be hard to keep them from living off an exclusive diet of meat pies and fairy bread, neither of which should be a large part of a healthy diet. To help you out, we've rounded up a list of immune-boosting recipes that are packed with vitamins and essential nutrients. The best part is that they're tasty enough for even the choosiest of children to enjoy.
Read on for seven immune-booster recipes for nutritious breakfasts, lunches, and dinners you can whip up at home all winter long.
1. Lemon Butter Barramundi
When it comes to nutrition and immune health, there's no fish better to eat than farmed Australian barramundi.
Why is barra so good for you? It's full of omega-3 fatty acids, a vital nutrient for brain and heart health, and is also free of harmful chemicals often found in other fish. Even better, it's a sustainable choice that doesn't contribute to overfishing.
One of the most delicious and nutritious ways to eat barramundi is with a simple lemon and herb butter sauce. Start by cooking 3-4 fillets in a lightly-oiled pan. Once they're nicely seared and golden brown, take them off the heat and move them to a serving platter.
In the same pan, melt two tablespoons of butter and sautee a few cloves of chopped fresh garlic, a well-known anti-bacterial food. After about two minutes, throw in a bit of chopped fresh basil and the juice of half a lemon (full of vitamin C).
Stir the sauce until it's mixed and then drizzle or brush it over the cooked barramundi fillets. This dish is fast, light, nutrient-packed, and melts in your mouth. Your little seafood lover will be just as pleased as the adults.
2. Grilled Meat and Vegetables on a Stick
Even kids who won't come near raw vegetables will eat these immune-boosting foods when they're grilled and put on a stick. That's why meat and veggie skewers (or "kebabs") are the perfect way to get your kids to eat the best immunity-boosting foods under the sun.
Start by roughly chopping up some of Australia's favourite vegetables like onion, mushrooms, peppers, zucchini, broccoli, and potatoes. The pieces should be large enough to make up an entire bite or two. If you're feeling adventurous, throw some small bite-sized tomatoes in the mix as well.
Next, chop up some lean meat like chicken into pieces the same size as your vegetables. Put the meat in one container and the veggies in another. Over top, pour a marinade of your choice and let it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
Then, take them out and stack the ingredients on bamboo skewers, alternating meat and veggies so every kebab has some of each. Grill them until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
If the weather is too poor for an outdoor barbeque, you can always use an indoor grill or roast the skewers in the oven for a similar result.
3. Veggie Nuggets
Chicken nuggets are a favourite of children around the world, but they don't do much good for your health. Instead, try swapping the meat out for vegetable nuggets, one of the easiest ways to get your child to eat their recommended 5 servings of vegetables.
To make them, add a mix of steamed broccoli, shredded carrots, and chopped garlic to your food processor. Add in egg and breadcrumbs to bind the vegetables together. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and onion powder, then pulse in the food processor until it's well-combined.
Scoop out spoonfuls of the mixture and shape them into small nuggets. Roll these in breadcrumbs until coated and cook them in a lightly-oiled skillet. Serve with your child's favourite dipping sauce.
These are easy to stick in your child's lunchbox along with some dipping sauce for a quick and healthy meal on the go.
4. Emu Burger Dippers
Australia is blessed with an abundance of native lean meats, many of which are healthier than your average pork or beef. Emu meat, which many insist tastes just like beef, is one of these.
It's a bit of an unconventional choice, but emu meat is high in vitamin C, protein, and iron while being lower in cholesterol and fat than other red meats. This makes it a heart-healthy option for people of all ages. When ground, it can be turned into a juicy burger patty that's perfect for tiny hands.
To make emu burger dippers, add ground emu meat, salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder to a bowl. Toss in some finely-chopped mushrooms for added nutrients and mix until well combined. Scoop the mixture in two-tablespoon portions (the size of a golf ball) and form it into patties.
Cook the burger patties on the grill or in a pan and melt a thin slice of cheese on top. Instead of using a bun, wrap each patty in a small lettuce leaf. These are perfect for kids to dip in their favourite sauce, and they freeze well if you want to save some to heat up later.
5. Prawns and Pasta
Picky eaters around the world turn to pasta as their go-to dish. While noodles are good in moderation, especially if they're whole grain, adding some protein and vegetables helps to make it a more well-rounded meal.
For a healthy pasta that your whole family will gobble up, try adding pan-cooked prawns and zucchini or broccoli. Prawns are a great source of B vitamins, calcium, iron, and selenium. These nutrients are crucial for a healthy immune and nervous system.
Cook the prawns and vegetables in a large skillet and then add the cooked pasta. Toss the mixture with your sauce of choice (tomato sauce or the lemon butter sauce listed above are both delicious). Serve with a light sprinkle of cheese and fresh herbs for a dinner that's both healthy and comforting.
Fruit sushi, also called "frushi", is a fun and tasty way to give your little ones a healthy dessert. It's easy enough to make that your kids can help you in the kitchen before eating the fruits of their labour.
Start by laying a tortilla flat on a plate. Unless your child has a nut allergy, spreading some peanut, cashew, or almond butter on the tortilla is a great way to add protein to this otherwise carb-heavy snack.
Next, mix some cooked white rice with just enough coconut milk to make a creamy, sticky mixture, but not enough to be soupy. Spread a thin layer of the rice over the tortilla.
Finally, top the rice with thin slices of fruits. Strawberries, mangos, and kiwis all work well. Roll the tortilla tight and slice it in one-inch sections like a sushi roll.
To make it fancier, top the "frushi" pieces with shredded coconut, jam, or a light drizzle of melted chocolate.
7. Hidden Veg Smoothies
Delicious and healthy smoothies are the perfect place to sneak veggies into your children's diet on a hot summer day, but they can still be enjoyed year-round.
Smoothie recipes for immune system health often begin with a banana (Australia's most popular fruit, according to market data) to mimic a creamy milkshake. Add one or two other fruits like blueberries, raspberries, or strawberries, and throw in a handful of fresh spinach. Drizzle a bit of honey, add water or your choice of milk and blend until smooth.
Making up for Lost Nutrients
If your little ones refuse to touch a vegetable and turn up their noses at lean meats, all hope isn't lost. You can still make sure they're getting their required vitamins and nutrients by adding supplements into their diet.
Smoothies are the perfect place to toss in a fruit-flavoured immune supplement like Medlab Manuka-C Orange Mango for even more immune-boosting vitamins.
If your child isn't a fan of smoothies, try using a more neutral-flavoured drink powder like Medlab Immune-5 Vanilla. All you have to do is mix a small spoon of powder with a glass of water (or milk, if your child prefers it). Your child gets a tasty vanilla milkshake twice a day, and you rest easy knowing they just got a dose of healthy vitamins and probiotics.
Get Your Daily Vitamins With These Immune-Boosting Recipes
Even young and picky eaters need a steady diet of vitamin-packed foods during the winter months. If you aren't sure how to get them or the rest of your family to eat healthy meals, give these immune-boosting dinner recipes and snacks a try.
For more supplements and tools to help your family stay healthy through this year's flu season, make sure to check out the FeverMates shop.