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Focus: How can foods support your
immune system?

The focus of Week 2 is to eat more immune-supportive foods. Your immune system is like a finely tuned orchestra whose purpose is to defend your body from unhealthy insults from the world around you. Like an orchestra, your immune system contains many different instruments that work harmoniously together with one goal, protecting you from foreign insults that can cause damage to your body. Each instrument of the immune system—whether it be cells like T-cells or messenger molecules like cytokines— need different nutrients to support it. When you have a strong immune system you are less likely to experience colds and flu. So eating for your immune system can be thought of as eating to help prevent colds and flu.

This week you'll learn more about immune-supportive foods, cooking techniques like "Healthy Saute" that don't use heated oils, and how organic foods are beneficial for health as well as focus on incorporating immune-supportive vegetables into your diet. You'll also learn preparation techniques for foods included in this week's menu, including bell peppers, shiitake mushrooms, eggplant, basil, onions, garlic, chicken, and more.

The Menu for Week 2 includes recipes that feature creative ways of enjoying vegetables throughout your meal. It can be enjoyed as lunch or dinner.

Week 2 Menu:
  • 7-Minute "Quick Broiled" Chicken with Mustard OR Quick Eggplant Parmesan
  • 5-Minute Green Salad with Healthy Vinaigrette
  • Mediterranean Feast: 7-Minute "Healthy Sauteed" Bell Peppers, Cabbage, and Cauliflower
  • Fresh Fruit with Lemon Sauce
  • Healthy Lifestyle Tea

7-Minute "Quick Broiled" Chicken

This recipe is featured on page 579 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

  1. Preheat the broiler and place an all stainless steel skillet (be sure that the handle is also stainless steel) or cast iron pan under the heat for about 10 minutes to get it very hot. The pan should be about 5 to 7 inches from the heat source.
  2. While the pan is heating, rinse and pat the chicken dry and season it with lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Do not remove the skin (this will be done after the chicken has cooked).
  3. Using a hot pad, pull pan away from heat and place chicken breast on hot pan, skin side up. Return pan to broiler. It is not necessary to turn the breast because it is cooking on both sides at once. Depending upon the size, it should be cooked in about 7 minutes.
  4. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the dressing by combining garlic, extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. The breast is done when it is moist, yet its liquid runs clear when pierced. The inside temperature needs to reach 165°F (74°C). Remove the skin before serving; it is left on to keep the chicken moist while broiling.
  6. Drizzle dressing over chicken breasts right before serving.

Cooking Hint:

This recipe is best if chicken breasts are small, such as the 6-ounce size designated in the recipe. Larger breasts will take longer to cook. If you want to cook the recipe in less than 7 minutes (between 4 and 5 minutes) you can slice the 6-ounce chicken breasts in half. If you use thighs for this recipe, be sure to use boneless thighs or they will take much longer to cook.

Preparation Tip: Chicken

When handling raw chicken, be extremely careful that it does not come in contact with other foods, especially those that will be served uncooked, because raw poultry can contain Salmonella bacteria. In fact, you should use a separate plastic cutting board for poultry and meats than you use for vegetables and other foods. If you don't use a separate board, make sure you wash your hands and cutting board very well with hot soapy water after handling chicken. It is a good idea to add 2 TBS of bleach to 2 cups of water in a spray bottle and use this mixture to clean your cutting board. Spray your cutting board with this mixture and let it evaporate (this takes about 20 minutes).

When defrosting a frozen chicken, do so in the refrigerator and not at room temperature. Place it on a plate to capture any liquid drippings.

Preparation Tip: Quick Broil

To "Quick Broil," you want to first preheat the broiler. It heats up very quickly so you don't have to have the broiler on for very long. Place stainless steel skillet (with steel handle) or cast iron skillet under broiler to get it hot. Preheating the pan allows the fish, meat, or poultry that is being "Quick Broiled" to cook on both sides at one time. Because the pan is so hot, it immediately seals the fish or meat on the bottom to retain the juices and keeps it from sticking to the pan. For more on "Quick Broil," see page 60 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.


Preparation Tip: Lemon juice

Rinse lemon before cutting. It's best to juice a lemon when it's at room temperature since it produces more juice when it is not cold. Roll the lemon under the palm of your hand on a flat surface to extract more juice. Cut the lemon in half, removing the visible seeds from the fruit.You can juice the lemon using a juicer or reamer, or squeezing it by hand.

Preparation Tip: Garlic

Separate the individual cloves by placing bulb on cutting board and gently, but firmly, applying pressure with the palm of your hand at an angle. This will cause the layers of skin that hold the bulb together to separate. Alternatively, you can insert a knife between the individual cloves to separate them from the rest of the bulb.

To peel the skin off of the clove, place the side of a chef's knife on it and give it a quick whack with the palm of your hand. This will loosen the skin so you can easily remove it.

Slice the garlic into 1/16-inch pieces. Then cut across the slices of garlic using a rocking motion with your knife, chopping it into the desired size. For minced garlic, chop fine.

Let garlic sit for 5-10 minutes before incorporating it into recipe to allow the conversion of the maximum amount of garlic's sulfur-containing phytonutrients to occur. This will greatly enhance its health-promoting benefits. You'll notice that as you let it sit, its notably pungent aroma appears; that's because the same compounds responsible for its health benefits are also responsible for its famous smell and flavor. For more information on the importance of letting garlic sit before cooking it or eating it, see page 261 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.


Quick Eggplant Parmesan

This recipe is featured on page 257 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.
  1. Mince garlic.
  2. Cut tomatoes into 1/4-inch slices.
  3. Combine garlic with olive oil, basil, and sea salt to taste in a small mixing bowl.
  4. Heat 3 TBS broth over medium heat in a stainless steel skillet.
  5. While broth is heating, cut whole eggplant into 1/2-inch slices.
  6. When broth begins to steam, add eggplant slices, cover, and sauté for 5 minutes.
  7. Turn eggplant and add 3 TBS broth.
  8. Top each slice of eggplant with a thin slice of tomato and 1-1/2 TBS low-fat ricotta cheese.
  9. Continue to sauté, covered, for 2 more minutes.
  10. Remove eggplant from pan and arrange on serving plate. Top each slice with 1 tsp basil sauce.
  11. Grate Parmesan cheese over eggplant and serve.

Preparation Tip: Eggplant

Rinse eggplant under cold running water to clean. Cut off ends of eggplant and slice remainder into 1/2-inch slices. Cutting eggplant into slices of equal thickness will help it to cook more evenly. Unless the eggplant is wax coated, you don't need to peel it. If you do want to peel it, use a vegetable peeler after cutting off ends. If the eggplant is not wax coated, I wouldn't peel it so that you can enjoy the nutrients the peel contains, such as the phytonutrient, nasunin, and dietary fiber. It is good to brush or toss slices in a little lemon juice to keep them from turning brown when exposed to the air. You do not need to sweat the eggplant, as other recipes call for, since the way that it is prepared in the recipe will help reduce its inherent bitterness.

Preparation Tip: Garlic

Separate the individual cloves by placing bulb on cutting board and gently, but firmly, applying pressure with the palm of your hand at an angle. This will cause the layers of skin that hold the bulb together to separate. Alternatively, you can insert a knife between the individual cloves to separate them from the rest of the bulb.

To peel the skin off of the clove, place the side of a chef's knife on it and give it a quick whack with the palm of your hand. This will loosen the skin so you can easily remove it.

Slice the garlic into 1/16-inch pieces. Then cut across the slices of garlic using a rocking motion with your knife, chopping it into the desired size. For minced garlic, chop fine.

Let garlic sit for 5-10 minutes before incorporating it into recipe to allow the conversion of the maximum amount of garlic's sulfur-containing phytonutrients to occur. This will greatly enhance its health-promoting benefits. You'll notice that as you let it sit, its notably pungent aroma appears; that's because the same compounds responsible for its health benefits are also responsible for its famous smell and flavor. For more information on the importance of letting garlic sit before cooking it or eating it, see page 261 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.


5-Minute Green Salad with
Healthy Vinaigrette

This recipe is featured on page 143 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.
  1. Combine extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice (or balsamic vinegar if you prefer), sea salt and pepper in a bowl. For a more well integrated dressing, whisk in the olive oil a little at a time.
  2. Wash salad greens and then toss them with dressing just before serving

10 Variations for Healthy Vinaigrette Dressing

  1. French: add 1 tsp of Dijon mustard
  2. Asian: add a few drops of tamari (soy sauce)
  3. Ginger: add 1/2 tsp of grated ginger
  4. Parsley: add 1 TBS parsley
  5. Chives: add 1 TBS chives
  6. Garlic: add 1 clove pressed garlic
  7. Basil: add 6 leaves of fresh chopped basil
  8. Italian Herb: add 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary and 1 tsp chopped fresh oregano
  9. Anchovy/Capers: add 5 anchovy fillets and 1 tsp capers
  10. Creamy: add 2 TBS low-fat plain yogurt

Preparation Tip: Salad greens

Head lettuce (such as romaine, butter lettuce, green or red leaf lettuce) Remove and discard the outer leaves. Slice off the roots as well as the tips of the remaining leaves since they tend to be bitter. Chop the remaining lettuce, rinse well and then either pat dry or use a salad spinner if you have one available to remove the excess water.

Loose Salad Greens (such as arugula, watercress, mizuna, or prepackaged salad mixes) To wash loose salad greens, first trim their roots, separate the leaves and them place them in a large bowl of tepid water, swishing them around with your hands to dislodge any dirt. Remove the leaves from the water, refill the bowl with clean water, and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water (usually about two to three times will do the trick). For more on preparing delicious salads, see page 140 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

Preparation Tip: Lemon juice

Rinse lemon before cutting. It's best to juice a lemon when it's at room temperature since it produces more juice when it is not cold. Roll the lemon under the palm of your hand on a flat surface to extract more juice. Cut the lemon in half, removing the visible seeds from the fruit.You can juice the lemon using a juicer or reamer, or squeezing it by hand.

Mediterranean Feast: 7-Minute
"Healthy Sauteéd" Bell Peppers,
Cabbage and Cauliflower

This recipe is featured on page 277 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.
  1. Slice onion and let sit for at least 5 minutes before cooking.
  2. Heat 3 TBS broth over medium heat in a stainless steel skillet.
  3. While broth is heating, slice bell pepper and mushrooms (for preparation tips, see below).
  4. When broth begins to steam, add vegetables and sauté covered for 3 minutes.
  5. After 3 minute, stir, and add 3 TBS of broth. Then cook uncovered on low heat for another 4 minutes. If the pan starts to scorch, add a little bit more liquid.
  6. Transfer to a bowl. For more flavor, toss vegetables with the dressing ingredients while it is still hot. (Mediterranean Dressing does not need to be made separately.)

Preparation Tip: "Healthy Sauté"

"Healthy Sauté" is a healthy alternative to sautéing that uses broth instead of oil to cook vegetables and other foods. Healthy Sauté lets you easily make vegetables with robust flavors in a matter of minutes, preserving their inherent nutrient richness. Since it doesn't use heated oils, "Healthy Sauté" avoids the formation of carcinogenic compounds created when oils are heated to high temperatures.

To "Healthy Sauté," heat broth in a stainless steel skillet. When the broth begins to steam, add vegetables, stir and cover. Sauté for recommended amount of time and then remove the cover and stir the vegetables, continuing to cook uncovered for designated amount of time.

Preparation Tip: Bell Peppers

It is best to rinse bell peppers under cold running water before cutting. To slice bell peppers, first cut the pepper lengthwise on all four sides so that you end up with four pieces. Then cut the rib (to which the seeds are attached) out of the inside of each piece and discard. Cut the four pieces into 1/4-inch strips.


Preparation Tip: Cabbage

Remove the outer layers of cabbage head as they are usually bitter and discolored. Cut head in half and then into quarters and cut out core. Slice into 1/4-inch slices. Cutting your cabbage into slices of equal thickness will help it to cook more evenly.

Let the cabbage sit for 5 minutes before incorporating it into the recipe to enhance the activation of enzymes that convert plant nutrients into their active form, which have been show to contain health-promoting properties. For more information on the importance of letting garlic sit before cooking it or eating it, see page 222 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

Preparation Tip: Garlic

Separate the individual cloves by placing bulb on cutting board and gently, but firmly, applying pressure with the palm of your hand at an angle. This will cause the layers of skin that hold the bulb together to separate. Alternatively, you can insert a knife between the individual cloves to separate them from the rest of the bulb.

To peel the skin off of the clove, place the side of a chef's knife on it and give it a quick whack with the palm of your hand. This will loosen the skin so you can easily remove it.

Slice the garlic into 1/16-inch pieces. Then cut across the slices of garlic using a rocking motion with your knife, chopping it into the desired size. For minced garlic, chop fine.

Let garlic sit for 5-10 minutes before incorporating it into recipe to allow the conversion of the maximum amount of garlic's sulfur-containing phytonutrients to occur. This will greatly enhance its health-promoting benefits. You'll notice that as you let it sit, its notably pungent aroma appears; that's because the same compounds responsible for its health benefits are also responsible for its famous smell and flavor. For more information on the importance of letting garlic sit before cooking it or eating it, see page 261 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.


Fruit with Lemon Sauce

This recipe is featured on page 431 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.
  1. Wash fruit and cut into desired size.
  2. Mix cream honey, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Spoon over fresh fruit.

Preparation Tip: Lemon zest

Ideally, when making lemon zest, you should use organic lemons since they will not have the wax coating that conventionally grown lemons may have and you won't have to worry about pesticide residues. Rinse lemon before grating. Using a hand grater, grate the skin of the lemon, being careful to avoid the white membrane beneath the peel as it is bitter. Scrape the grated zest off the underside of the grater. You can use the same lemon for lemon juice.

Preparation Tip: Lemon juice

It's best to juice a lemon when it's at room temperature since it produces more juice when it is not cold. Roll the washed lemon under the palm of your hand on a flat surface to extract more juice. Cut the lemon in half, removing the visible seeds from the fruit. You can juice the lemon using a juicer or reamer, or squeezing it by hand.

Preparation Tip: Cream honey

Cream honey is whipped honey found in most health food stores. It may be a little harder to find but it is well worth it since it gives this sauce (and other recipes) a delightful texture.

Preparation Tip: "No Bake Recipes"

I have discovered that fruit retains their maximum nutrients and their best taste when they are enjoyed fresh and not prepared in a cooked recipe. That is because their nutrients including vitamins, antioxidants, and enzymes, are unable to withstand the temperature (350°F/175°C) used in baking. So that you can get the most enjoyment and benefit from fruit, I created quick and easy recipes, such as this Fresh Fruit with Lemon Sauce, which require no baking. I call these recipes "No Bake Recipes."

Healthy Lifestyle Tea

For more information about Healthy Lifestyle Tea, see page 31 of The World's Healthiest Foods book.

  1. Add 1 tsp lemon juice to 1 cup of brewed tea.
    Optional: if you're sensitive to caffeine, you can drink decaffeinated green tea instead.
    Serves 2

Preparation Tip: Green tea

Green tea has numerous health benefits. Research has shown that three cups of green tea a day can reduce body weight and waist circumference by 5% in three months. Not only does it inhibit the breakdown of fats, it also increases your metabolism. Concentrated in antioxidant catechin phytonutrients such as epigallocatechingallate (EGCG), green tea also helps to inhibit the oxidation of LDLcholesterol, which when oxidized is one of the contributing causes of atherosclerosis. Therefore, green tea can play an important role in a diet that promotes cardiovascular health. Additionally, research has shown a connection between catchin intake and decreased risk of many types of cancers.

When preparing green tea, use four grams of loose tea leaves for each eight ounces of water. Although heartily boiling water is used to brew black and oolong teas, green tea needs much lower temperatures (160-170°F; 79-85°C). Some types of green tea only need to steep for 30 to 60 seconds although varieties such as Nilgiri and Dragonwell will take longer.

Preparation Tip: Lemon juice

Rinse lemon before cutting. It's best to juice a lemon when it's at room temperature since it produces more juice when it is not cold. Roll the lemon under the palm of your hand on a flat surface to extract more juice. Cut the lemon in half, removing the visible seeds from the fruit.You can juice the lemon using a juicer or reamer, or squeezing it by hand.

SHOPPING LIST FOR WEEK 2 MENU

(If Quick Broiled Chicken is served)

This shopping list will prepare Week 2's menu for two people. If your group consists of four people, you should buy double the amount of ingredients listed. If your group consists of six people, you should buy triple the amount of ingredients listed. If your group consists of eight people you should multiply by four times the amount of ingredients listed.


SHOPPING LIST FOR WEEK 2 MENU

(If Eggplant Parmesan is served)

This shopping list will prepare Week 2.s menu for two people. If your group consists of four people, you should buy double the amount of ingredients listed. If your group consists of six people, you should buy triple the amount of ingredients listed. If your group consists of eight people you should multiply by four times the amount of ingredients listed.


Healthy Eating Topics of Interest

Nutrient-rich foods can support a healthy immune system

Research over the past ten years has shown that nutrition plays a major role in supporting the production and action of both the cells and the soluble factors of the immune system. Protein, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and certain vitamins and minerals are all key to a healthy immune system.

NUTRIENT IMMUNE SYSTEM FUNCTION NUTRIENT-RICH FOODS
Vitamin C Decreases severity of upper respiratory infections, supports healthy function of immune system components called T-cells Bell peppers, parsley, broccoli, strawberries, cauliflower, lemon juice, romaine lettuce, Brussels sprouts
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) Promotes production and release of antibodies from immune system B-cells Crimini mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, strawberries, winter squash, collard greens, Swiss chard, corn
Vitamin B6 Deficiency impairs T-cell functioning and results in decrease in lymphocyte counts Spinach, bell peppers, garlic, cauliflower, bananas, broccoli, celery, asparagus, cabbage, crimini mushrooms, kale
Folic acid Deficiency leads to decrease in T-cells and reduced effectiveness of messenger molecules called cytokines Romaine lettuce, spinach, asparagus, collard greens, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, celery, Brussels sprouts
Zinc Potent immunostimulant whose deficiency can result in suppression of T-cell function Crimini mushrooms, spinach, summer squash, asparagus, Swiss chard, collard greens, green peas, broccoli, mustard greens
Vitamin A Deficiency impairs antibody and T-cell activity Carrots, spinach, kale, parsley, bell peppers, romaine lettuce, Swiss chard, sweet potatoes
Vitamin E Important antioxidant that supports healthy inflammatory response Swiss chard, spinach, collard greens, kale, olives, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes
Phytonutrients (flavonoids, carotenoids and others) Powerful antioxidants that maintain healthy tissue around sites of infection and support healing Sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, tomatoes, collard greens, parsley, onions, celery
Phytonutrients (lentinan) Supports immune system, stimulates T cells Shiitake mushrooms

For more information on immune supportive nutrients, please see: The World's Healthiest Foods book: Pages 733, 809 The World's Healthiest Foods website: http://whfoods.org/nutrientstoc.php and http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=24#disctopics


Foods that are unsupportive of immune system health

Your immune system is not just involved in fighting invaders like bacteria, but also becomes activated when you eat foods to which you are intolerant or allergic. Reactions to allergic foods can be quick, like the anaphylactic reaction often seen with peanut or shellfish allergies, but food allergy reactions can also be delayed and cause a number of symptoms like headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, rashes, and other systemic (whole body) effects that develop over time. The most common allergenic foods include peanuts and shellfish, cow's milk, wheat, and soy; however, everyone is unique in their food intolerances and allergies.

Processed foods and foods produced with pesticides and not grown organically may also be problematic for your immune function. Toxic metals such as cadmium, lead, and mercury are immunosuppressive. Some pesticides and preservatives can negatively affect the gastrointestinal lining. Food additives can also have untoward effects on the nutrient content of the food. For example, sulfites destroy thiamin (vitamin B1) in foods to which they have been added.

For more information on how diet can support the immune system, please see: The World's Healthiest Foods book: Page 719, 733, The World's Healthiest Foods website: http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=24#disctopics and http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=30#faqdiscussion

Cooking without oil

Extra virgin olive oil is my favorite oil. At the foundation of the health-promoting Mediterranean Diet, extra virgin olive oil features heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and powerful antioxidant phytonutrients, such as oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol.

As much as I love olive oil, I don't like to cook with it since the heat can damage its fatty acids and destroy its beneficial phytonutrients. Plus, since the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is so variable, seeming to differ depending upon manufacturer, I don't trust that the temperatures used in cooking do not oxidize its delicate oils. If extra virgin olive oil is heated not only will you lose the immune-supportive antioxidants but you'll also risk consuming immune-compromising (and heart-health compromising) free radicals that can form when the oil is heated.

This is why I developed the "Healthy Sauté" method, a preparation technique I created to avoid the heating of oils and one that is featured in this week's menu. For more about "Healthy Sauté," please see the Mediterranean Feast recipe.

While I don't like to heat oils when cooking, I understand that some people do. What you want to look for when choosing an oil to cook with is one that has a high smoke point. Some oils that have high smoke points include high-oleic safflower oil (smoke point about 450°F, or 232°C) high-oleic sunflower oil (450°F, or 232°C), avocado oil (520°F, or 271°C, refined coconut oil (450°F or 232°C), and unrefined coconut oil (350°F, or 170°C).


Overview - Week 1 - Week 2 - Week 3 - Week 4