(Family Features) Staying healthy is important year-round, but especially in the cooler months when temperatures drop, people spend more time inside and germs can spread easily. What you eat and the lifestyle you embrace are critical components of staying healthy.
Nourishing meals full of fruits, vegetables, protein-rich foods and whole grains help provide the body's immune system with the nutrients it needs. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle by getting enough sleep, being physically active every day, having enough fluids and reducing stress also help keep the immune system in shape.
As a nutritious food to include on your grocery list, grapes of all colors - red, green and black - contain more than 1,600 natural plant compounds such as antioxidants and other polyphenols that help protect the health of cells throughout the body. They also contain about 82% water, so they provide important fluids for hydration, which is also critical to a healthy immune system.
Grapes can be enjoyed as a healthy snack or an immune-boosting ingredient in recipes like Chicken, Spinach and Grape Pita sandwiches and Grape and Salmon Power Salad. Each provides a mix of immune-supporting nutrients, including zinc in chicken, vitamins A and C in kale, polyphenols in grapes and other important nutrients in the salmon, walnuts and barley.
Chicken, Spinach and Grape Pita
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons minced shallot
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- 1/4 teaspoon ground sumac
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 package (5-6 ounces) fresh baby spinach, washed and dried
- 1 1/2 cups shredded, cooked chicken (about 8 ounces)
- 1 cup red California grapes, sliced
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 4 whole-wheat pita breads (6 1/2 inches each), warmed and halved
- In small skillet over medium-high heat, toast pine nuts, stirring constantly until toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl and let cool. In large bowl, whisk lemon juice, shallot, olive oil, red pepper flakes, sumac, salt and pepper. Add spinach, chicken, grapes, feta and pine nuts; toss to mix. Stuff into pita breads and serve.
Nutritional information per serving: 445 calories; 24 g protein; 46 g carbohydrates; 20 g fat (39% calories from fat); 5 g saturated fat (10% calories from saturated fat); 57 mg cholesterol; 658 mg sodium; 6 g fiber.
Grape and Salmon Power Salad
- 3/4 cup pearled barley
- 3 cups firmly packed kale leaves, torn and sliced into ribbons
- 1 cup halved red or black seedless California grapes
- 8 ounces cold, cooked salmon, skin and bones removed
- 1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Cook barley according to package directions. Drain and cool.
- Tenderize kale by blanching in boiling water 2-3 seconds or microwaving 1 minute. Rinse pieces in cold water to stop cooking; squeeze dry. Fluff and uncrimp dry kale pieces with fingers. In medium bowl, mix barley, kale, grapes, salmon and walnuts.
- To make dressing: In small bowl, whisk lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and cayenne. Gradually mix in olive oil. Pour onto salad and fold gently to combine.
Nutritional information per serving: 413 calories; 15 g protein; 30 g carbohydrates; 16 g fat (47% calories from fat); 3 g saturated fat (8% calories from saturated fat); 22 mg cholesterol; 232 mg sodium; 500 mg potassium; 4 g fiber.
(Family Features) If spending more time at home than usual has you reaching for snacks more often, keep some quick, flavorful options on-hand to help fuel you and your family throughout the day when hunger pangs strike.
One versatile pantry staple that can fit a variety of snack cravings: popcorn. With no artificial additives or preservatives, light and airy popcorn is naturally low in fat and calories, non-GMO and gluten free, making it a sensible option to enjoy one handful at a time or sprinkled with seasonings that satisfy your taste buds. A whole-grain food, popcorn has energy-producing carbohydrates and fiber, which can help keep you satisfied longer. Plus, it’s simple enough to make that kids can help in the kitchen by popping it themselves or adding toppings.
Whether you’re craving something sweet, salty, spicy – or nearly anything else – freshly popped popcorn can serve as the perfect base ingredient to simply mix in your favorite toppings or create more unique tastes by combining a variety of herbs and spices. For example, consider these hacks to add easy flavor:
- Pop it on the stove. Stovetop popping allows you to choose your toppings. Cover the bottom of a pot with a thin layer of oil and popcorn kernels, shake to coat, cover with a lid then turn on the heat. Once popping has slowed to 2-second intervals, remove from heat and add toppings.
- Add some sweetness. When you’re in the mood for something sweet, add a dash of salt and a pinch of sugar (or more to meet your taste) to a bowl of popcorn. Or add sugar to the pan before it’s popped, like this recipe for Sugar Corn.
- Melt some butter. For a classic taste treat, melt a little butter and pour over your bowl of popped corn.
- Satisfy multiple cravings. Pop a large pot of popcorn and divide it in half; top one half with sweeter toppings like honey, which is a key ingredient in Honey Matcha Popcorn, and the other with something savory, like nutritional yeast or dill. When hunger strikes, you’re ready, regardless of the flavor craving.
- Spice it up. Cayenne pepper and a blend of other spices can be sprinkled on popcorn to create a spicier snack like Cajun Corn.
- Add mix-ins. Add dried fruits, nuts or candies to a bowl of popcorn to make your own trail mix.
- Cheese, please. A sprinkle of Parmesan cheese can make your snack a bit more substantial. Mix in some dried herbs like basil and parsley to create this Popcorn Con Pesto.
For more snack ideas that deliver on both flavor and nutrition, visit popcorn.org.
Yield: 8 cups
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil, for popping
- 1/2 cup popcorn kernels
- 1 pinch white sugar, plus additional, to taste
- In medium pan, heat oil until hot.
- Add popcorn to pan and sprinkle sugar over it. Add more sugar, if desired, to taste.
- Cover and shake pan continuously until popcorn is popped.
Honey Matcha Popcorn
Yield: 12 cups
- 12 cups unsalted, unbuttered popped popcorn
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 teaspoon matcha green tea powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
- Preheat oven to 300 F.
- Line large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place popped popcorn in large mixing bowl.
- In small saucepan over medium heat, melt together butter, honey, matcha powder and salt, stirring until dissolved. Pour over popcorn; toss to combine. Spread onto baking sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
- Bake, stirring occasionally, 25-30 minutes, or until popcorn is dry. Let cool completely before serving.
Tip: Matcha powder can be found in the tea and coffee aisle at supermarkets.
Popcorn Con Pesto
Yield: 5 quarts
- 5 quarts popped popcorn
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 tablespoon dried basil leaves, crushed
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley, crushed
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 cup pine nuts (optional)
- Place popped popcorn in large bowl and keep warm.
- In small saucepan, melt butter; add basil, parsley, garlic, Parmesan cheese and nuts, if using.
- Stir to blend.
- Pour over popped popcorn, stirring well.
Note: Dried thyme or oregano, or combination of ingredients, may be used in place of basil.
Yield: 2 1/2 quarts
- 1/4 cup butter, melted
- 2 1/2 quarts popped popcorn, warm
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
- Heat oven to 300° F.
- In bowl, pour butter over warm popcorn.
- In separate bowl, combine paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and lemon pepper; sprinkle over popcorn. Toss to mix.
- Bake 5-10 minutes for crispy popcorn.
Source: Popcorn Board