The festive season is upon us and while it brings the promise of loving family reunions and fun gifts, there’s one thing that coincides with this magical time of year that we’re not looking forward to and that’s cold and flu season. Nothing puts a damper on joyful celebrations more than a stuffy nose or an upset stomach.

Shopping for gifts and stressing over preparations for the holidays often has us taking less than stellar care of ourselves. When stress levels are high and our diet choices include mall food, holiday-themed sugary drinks, and too much fatty comfort food, our immune system takes a hit.

As you know, eating a wide variety of fruits and vegetables is paramount for a healthy and strong immune system. Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants found in colorful foods act as a barrier to these nasty viruses going around. If you’ve been too busy to eat your fair share of salads lately, here are 10 immunity-boosting foods you should work on including in your diet to stay on top of your health game before Santa arrives! Hint: they’re delicious and are the basic ingredients in many amazing festive recipes.

1. Red Bell PepperSimple Red Pepper Bruschetta With Homemade Roasted Garlic Ricotta [Vegan]

Did you know that red bell peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges? In fact, they contain twice the amount for this vitamin and they’re also packed with beta-carotene and vitamin E. Vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene together make bell pepper a powerful immunity-boosting food because these vitamins and compounds contribute to the production of white blood cells in our bodies and help destroy infectious agents.

Want to know tasty recipes featuring red pepper? This Simple Red Pepper Bruschetta With Homemade Roasted Garlic Ricotta, pictured above, is not only delicious, it’s perfect for any holiday celebration. You can also try this Red Pepper Risotto, this Roasted Red Pepper Almond and Harissa Dip, and this Roasted Red Pepper and Toasted Walnut Sandwich.

2. GarlicGarlic and Herb Cream Cheese 1

Garlic may not give us the freshest breath but it’s one of the best flavor enhancing ingredient to add to any recipe in our opinion. Seriously, how delicious does this Cheesy Garlic Bread look? It turns out that garlic is also an amazing anti-microbial and anti-viral agent. It contains many sulfur compounds such as allicin and diallyl disulfide that act on macrophages, lymphocytes, and other types of cells important to strengthen our immune functions.

Feel a cold coming? Enjoy this Garlic and Herb Cream Cheese, pictured above, this Fiery Garlic Tofu, or this Sweet Potato Mash With Roasted Garlic and Cashew Cream. Also, you can Celebrate Garlic’s Power-Packed Benefits With These 15 Recipes.

3. Wheat GermApple Walnut Spice Granola [Vegan]

If you’re not familiar with wheat germ, you should definitely get to know this nutrient-rich powerhouse. Derived from the flour milling process, wheat germ is the seed of the wheat plant. As such, it’s very rich in vitamins and minerals that are essential to our immune functions. Namely, it’s full B-vitamins, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. Wheat germ is also a good source of minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc and manganese. Wheat germ’s impressive nutritious content contributes to the production of antibodies and fortifies our immune system by monitoring our healthy gut bacteria as well.

Not sure how to include this healthy but perhaps foreign nutritious food into your diet? Look no further than this Apple Walnut Spice Granola, pictured above, these Whole Wheat Nectarine Pancakes, and these amazing Maple And Wheat Germ Waffles.

4. GingerMiso Turmeric Ginger Dressing

If there’s one potent immune-boosting food out there, it’s definitely ginger. This rhizome contains a ton of phytochemical compounds that work together to reduce inflammation in our bodies. Gingerols, one of the main antioxidant present in fresh ginger, has the power to filter out toxins from our lymphatic system and is able to fight bacterial infections better than conventional antibiotics.

Not sure how to handle and prepare ginger? Check out our tips and tricks in Why Ginger-fication of our Food Is a Good Thing. Then you have to try out this Miso Turmeric Ginger Dressing, pictured above, in your next salad. If you prefer more comforting dishes, you can make this Carrot Avocado Ginger Soup or this Almond Ginger Pad Thai. Last but not least, have these Chamomile Ginger Lemon Raw Energy Bars for an immunity-boosting snack along with this delicious Ginger Lime Kombucharita.

5. BroccoliCrispy Lemon Ginger Tofu With Broccoli

Broccoli may be snubbed by kids all over America but these ‘little trees’ are a great addition to make to your plate if you want to ward off viruses and strengthen your immunity. Not only are they a good source of vitamin C which helps cells in our immune system such as T-cells and phagocytes do their job but they contain indole-3-carbinol, a compound who stimulates the production of cytokines which are powerful antibodies.

Get your green vegetables and protect yourself from those nasty colds with this Crispy Lemon Ginger Tofu With Broccoli, pictured above, this 10-Minute Seitan ‘Beef’ and Broccoli, or these Broccoli ‘Wings’. You also have to make any of these 15 Amazing Vegan Recipes Powered by Nutritious and Delicious Broccoli. You won’t regret it!

6. TurmericHealing Pumpkin Turmeric Soup

The benefits of turmeric have been discussed in length in recent years and we are here to tell you that the hype is totally justified. Turmeric, or rather curcumin, the orange-yellow component of the spice, is a strong immunomodulator which means it has the ability to either stimulate or inhibit the expression of cytokines in our immune system. Consumed at low doses like as a flavor enhancer in meals, turmeric will enhance antibody responses.

Want to boost your immune system by getting on the turmeric bandwagon? You have to read on these Unique and Delicious Ways to Use Turmeric More Often and check out these 10 Must-Try Healing Turmeric-Powered Elixirs. You can also give this Healing Pumpkin Turmeric Soup, pictured above, these Turmeric Zucchini Fritters, or this Spicy Cabbage Turmeric Stew a try.

7. MisoRaw Instant Miso Soup Bombs

This traditional Japanese dish is both comforting and healthy. In fact, its content in Aspergillus oryzae fungus and other microorganisms gives miso strong healing properties and the ability to prevent infections and common illnesses. How? Well, these microorganisms promote a healthy gut flora which is essential for optimal immune functions. When the microbes in our gut are out of balance, it can cause our immune system to become dis-regulated and weakened, leaving us more susceptible to harmful pathogens and infectious agents.

Thankfully for us, miso can help prevent this from happening and give us delicious meals full of that ‘umami’ flavor at the same time. We suggest giving these Raw Instant Miso Soup Bombs, pictured above, these Kale Avocado Wraps With Spicy Miso-Dipped Tempeh, these Miso Kimchi Nachos With Cashew Cheese and this Miso Vegetable Pad Thai a try.

8. AlmondsRosemary and Garlic Roasted Almonds

If you like snacking as much as we do, especially while holiday shopping, it won’t come as a surprise that almonds are on our list. Did you know that almonds’ skin contains polyphenols, a type of antioxidant, that has been found to benefit the immune system greatly? It is believed that these compounds are responsible for almonds’ ability to increase the fighting power of white blood cells in our immune system. T-cells, especially, are positively impacted by polyphenols, which give almonds their antiviral properties.

Get your snacking on and ward off unwanted colds and viruses with these delicious Rosemary and Garlic Roasted Almonds, pictured above. You can also give these Almond Curry Lentils, these Almond, Carrot, and Chickpea Burgers, or this Smoky Tomato Almond Pasta Sauce a try.

9. SpinachSpinach Salad With Barley Bacon 1

When it comes to winter greens, spinach is one of our favorites. Not only does it add some beautiful color and a healthy feel to common dishes but they provide our bodies with a much needed boost, especially in the cold season. Spinach leaves are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that stimulate our immune system and keep us protected from viral invaders. Vitamin A and C, folate, magnesium, iron, and zinc found in spinach all play an important role in supporting the production of lymphocytes and other antibodies needed for warding off viruses and infections.

Load up on spinach with this Spinach Salad With Barley Bacon, pictured above, this Chickpea Spinach Stew With Lentils and Quinoa, this Creamy Pumpkin and Spinach Lasagna, and this Smoked Tofu and Artichoke Spinach Sandwich. Also, check out these 20 Recipes So Good No One Will Have to Tell You to Eat Your Spinach.

10. Avocado

Naan Avocado Toast with Dukkah & Pan-Fried Chickpeas
Avocado, the queen of plant-based fats, is great for your immune system. Why? It’s packed with essential fatty acids and B-vitamins which help our immune system produce the antibodies we need. Avocados are also a good source of antioxidants that support immune functions by their inhibiting effect on free-radicals.

Want to try out new recipes featuring this healthy kind of fat? Try out this Naan Avocado Toast With Dukkah and Pan-Fried Chickpeas, pictured above, this Spicy Cucumber Avocado Onion Salad, or this Spicy Bean, Mushroom, and Avocado Quesadilla. This Green Pea Avocado Spread is also amazing and perfect for the holidays!

Recommended Resources and Recipes

Want to know more tips and recipes that will help you boost your immune system before flu season arrives? Here are a few articles that might interest you:

If you’re looking for more plant-based recipes featuring immune-boosting ingredients, as well as cooking tips, then we highly recommend downloading the Food Monster Appwhich is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 10,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to new recipes every day. Check it out!

Lead image source: Turmeric Tofu Cashew Curry