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8 Vegetable-Packed Side Dish Recipes That Boost Your Immune Health

By Ariane Resnick, CNC
March 7, 2022
Image credit: The Busy Baker

Vegetables have been shown to contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients that help to boost your immune system and keep it strong. In turn, this minimizes your potential to come down with assorted illnesses and diseases. 

Read next: The Best Vegan Products on the Market According to Someone Who’s Been Vegan for 12 Years

So eating our vegetables is one of the simplest ways to keep our immunity as high as possible… but the truth is, the same old steamed broccoli can get pretty dull after a while. Variety is key when it comes to making vegetables enticing, so we’ve rounded up a bunch of vegetable packed side dishes that can help to boost your immune health. We’ve highlighted eight vegetable side dishes with immune-boosting properties — read on to learn new methods of preparation and how your body can benefit from them. 

1. Italian Roasted Bell Peppers with Olive Oil

Italian Roasted Bell Peppers With Olive Oil

Image credit: Healthy Recipes

Citrus fruit gets all the glory for being high in vitamin C, but did you know that bell peppers actually contain even more than they do? You’d have to eat several lemons to get even close to the C in one serving of bell peppers, which makes this roasted peppers with olive oil dish as immune-boosting as it is delicious. Vitamin C helps your cells create a blockade, also known as a “barrier function,” against illness. We love the simple seasonings of garlic, oregano, and pepper flakes, giving the dish an Italian flair while keeping everything light and fresh. 

2. Mustard-y Pan Fried Broccoli

Mustard-y Pan Fried Broccoli

Image credit: A Couple Cooks

If steamed broccoli has gotten you down, it might take just a quick sauté to cheer you back up. By sautéing broccoli, you get a chewier, crunchier texture than you do from steaming it. Not only is broccoli anti-inflammatory, it’s also full of antioxidants that help our bodies ward off disease. This pan-fried broccoli recipe uses dry mustard powder for flavor, which doesn’t only add some heat and tang — it’s immune boosting, too. Mustard seeds have actually been studied in relation to potential treatments for Covid-19.

3. Garlic Mushroom Quinoa

Garlic Mushroom Quinoa

Image credit: Damn Delicious

You’ll need five cloves of garlic and an entire pound of mushrooms for this garlic mushroom quinoa side dish. Garlic improves the functionality of our immune systems, and mushrooms are well-proven to help protect the body from cancer, particularly tumorous cancers. Flavored with thyme, which helps fight coughs (and just a hint of delicious parmesan), the combination of tastes in this simple side will pack a big punch. If you can’t find creminis, which also go by the name baby portabellas, rest assured that even the humble button mushroom is an immune booster, too.

4. No-Fail Sea Salt and Garlic Kale Chips

No-Fail Sea Salt and Garlic Kale Chips

Image credit: The Busy Baker

It’s been over a decade since the world discovered the beauty of kale chips, but one fact remains: they’re an easy and healthy way to eat a whole lot of kale. If you don’t love the ubiquitous kale Caesar salad on every restaurant menu, try these no fail sea salt and garlic kale chips instead. You’ll have joyfully eaten an entire bunch of kale before you realize it, thanks to their ultra crispy texture. Why is so much kale consumption that great? Because kale is high in immune-boosting vitamins C and E, can reduce systemic inflammation, and can help prevent cancer. What other chip could offer those perks?!

5. Sugar-Free Pickled Red Onions

Sugar-Free Pickled Red Onions

Image credit: Cook at Home Mom

You might be wondering what about sugar-free pickled red onions would be great for immunity since pickles aren’t always the first thing we think of for a vegetable side. But here’s why you should consider incorporating them more: Onions are full of sulphuric compounds that are hugely beneficial to our immune systems, but those compounds lessen when we cook them. Pickling a vegetable instead of cooking it is a way to eat a healthy vegetable in a more raw state but with a milder flavor. And while pickling often involves pouring boiling liquid over veggies, this recipe calls for a cold marinade instead. In addition to the onions, you get the immune-boosting probiotics of apple cider vinegar, too. 

6. Honey Glazed Carrots with Ginger

Honey Glazed Carrots With Ginger

Image credit: The Cookie Rookie

Nearly every component of this delicious honey glazed carrots with ginger recipe is a boon for your immune system. Carrots are high in vitamin A and can increase the amount of antioxidants in your body. Honey also helps reduce oxidative stress, and ginger can aid with respiratory ailments and functions as a strong anti-inflammatory agent. The spices in this dish, which include cinnamon and nutmeg, are also excellent for your overall health. 

7. Lemon Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Lemon Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Image credit: Shutterstock

If you think you don’t love Brussels sprouts, you probably haven’t had them roasted. Roasting them yields a crispy, much more enjoyable texture than the old fashioned boiling method does. These lemon garlic roasted Brussels sprouts offer the benefits of garlic along with the manifold immune boosting components of Brussels sprouts. Brussels sprouts have been shown to reduce breast cancer risk. They’re also a great source of vitamin K, which is vital to healthy bones. And while bell peppers have citrus beat on vitamin C content, lemons do still contain a beneficial amount of it. 

8. The Best Sautéed Spinach

The Best Sauteed Spinach

Image credit: Shutterstock

While spinach can’t exactly give you the amount of superpower it bestowed upon a certain cartoon character, it is still fabulous for your immune system. Spinach is considered one of the most potent antiviral foods and contains immune boosting vitamins, including vitamin A and vitamin E, the latter of which is also awesome for your cognitive well-being. We love that this sautéed spinach recipe uses lots of fresh garlic along with some soy sauce to mellow out any of the green’s bitterness.

Read next: 10 Vegan Recipes That Support Your Plant-Based Whole30

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