If these unusual times we are living in have taught us one thing, it’s that our health is not something we can take for granted. A tough, no-compromise stance has to be taken when it comes to our physical well-being. There are a number of ways to do this, one of which is to make sure we eat the correct foods.
Fighting off illness and disease is helped along by a healthy immune system, which gets the boost it needs from healthy, mindful eating and living. Immune-boosting fruit and vegetables include citrus, bell peppers (especially red), broccoli, garlic, ginger, spinach, almonds, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, turmeric, papaya and kiwi fruit. While it’s not always easy to eat healthily, especially when you are on the run or at work, there are ways of making it easier, which is why we recommend rustling up an immune-boosting jar.
There’s a reason why jar food is such a popular thing. Economical, versatile and easy, you can whip up something yummy and nutritious the night before, and by the time you open it up for lunch the next day, it will be the perfect pick-me-up. Delicious and wholesome, it’s the next best thing to a healthy spread at home.
What you put into your jar is up to you, as is your preferred order of ingredients. There really are no hard and fast rules when assembling your items. Either way, the first thing to remember is that fresh is always best. Next, concentrate on getting your prep right by making sure everything is washed and/or peeled, and diced or chopped accordingly.
Our jar started off with a layer of cooked red lentils, then we added quartered tomato and bell peppers. Then our greens came into play. We used torn Swiss chard, but you can use lettuce, kale or baby spinach, whatever you fancy. Then we added sliced red onion and smoked chicken. You can also use marinated feta, smoked tofu or cubed gouda/mozzarella/cheddar, the sky is the limit. Next up is sliced avocado, but bear in mind that if you are not going to be eating your jar soon after making it, the avo must be rubbed with a little lime or lemon juice to prevent it from turning black.
Last but not least is a delicious dressing, lightly drizzled over the top (see our homemade, simple vinaigrette recipe). You can also squeeze the juice of half an orange over your final ingredients. It’s delicious. The finishing touches are a scattering of nuts and seeds of your choice, such as pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, peanuts or cashews. Pop the lid on and into the fridge, and your lunch for the next day is sorted, if you can wait that long!
A few other items that you can put into your goodie jar are diced cucumbers, carrots, beans, broccoli, peas, corn and mushrooms. Instead of lentils you can use pasta, rice, couscous or quinoa. Planning nourishing meals around our immune-boosting guide is easy, and as appetising as you choose to make it. You can make salad, as we have, or you can make a soup for when the weather turns. Another firm favourite is a breakfast jar, with oats and fresh fruit such as strawberries and blueberries. The sky is the limit, so give it a go; we promise you’ll feel better than ever!
• Juice from from ½ lemon
• 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 5 tbs olive oil
• ½ teaspoon dried herbs
• Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
• Chilli flakes (optional).
Text: MELLISSA BUSHBY