Kitchen MacGyver: Immunity-Boosting Dinner

This red-pepper recipe can help you fend off illness this winter.

This red-pepper recipe can help you fend off illness this winter.

It’s hard to avoid catching a cold or other illness this time of year, but increasing your intake of vitamins C and B complex as well as zinc can help your body ward off germs. Vitamin B complex helps increase cell growth and division—an immunity-boosting function—and while research shows mixed findings on how effectively vitamin C shortens the duration of a cold, one study reveals that marathon runners who took vitamin C cut their risk of catching a cold in half. While taking vitamin B, C and zinc supplements are convenient ways to make sure you get this essential mineral and vitamins, eating foods rich in these elements also provides additional vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.

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In addition to chicken soup, add these stuffed red peppers into your dinner repertoire to keep you running well all winter long. Red bell peppers and fresh thyme are high in vitamin C; ground turkey, spinach and garlic are rich in B vitamins; and toasted wheat germ and cashews contain lots of zinc.

Immunity-Boosting Stuffed Red Bell Peppers

6 large red bell peppers, tops cut off and deseeded

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 lb. lean ground turkey

1/2 large white onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, destemmed and chopped

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ

4 cups baby spinach, washed and dried

1/4 cup cashews, chopped and roasted

1/2 cup brown basmati rice, cooked

1/2 cup crumbled fat-free feta cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground turkey in the olive oil, breaking up the meat into small chunks. Add onion, garlic, salt, pepper and herbs and cook for about 5 minutes, or until onion softens. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and wheat germ. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add spinach and cook until wilted and water is absorbed. Stir in cashews and brown rice and remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 cup of feta cheese and set mixture aside.

Place peppers in a large casserole dish and fill with mixture. Add remaining 1/4 cup of feta cheese to tops of peppers. Pour about 1/3 cup of water into the bottom of the casserole dish (don’t pour on top of peppers) and bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, or until peppers are a bit wrinkled and semi soft and the cheese is browned. Serve peppers with a mixed green salad.