Immune Boosting Gluten-Free Snacks
The immune system involves many processes that require certain nutrients to function. Including a variety of the foods which provide these nutrients daily can help provide optimal immune support.
Vitamin A (beta carotene) can be found in carrots, spinach, and sweet potatoes and it helps reduce inflammation and strengthen immune cells as well as the skin, which is the first line barrier to infection. Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help to reduce free radical damage. Free radicals are substances that cause oxidative damage to our bodies. They are formed during normal processes, like metabolism, and our bodies have systems to get rid of them. However, when too many free radicals are formed, damage can occur. Having antioxidant support like foods rich in vitamins C and E helps rid the body of free radicals. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, berries, and many other fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E can be found in nuts and seeds. Vitamin D plays a role in regulating the immune system. It is produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight, but it can also be found in a few foods like wild caught salmon and mushrooms that have been exposed to UV light. Zinc is important for the development of immune cells, and some food sources include meat, nuts, beans, and whole grains.
The snacks listed below are good sources of these essential nutrients and can help support and boost the immune system. Some of these recipes produce one serving while others yield multiple servings that can be used as quick snacks throughout the week.
Yogurt Parfait with Pumpkin Seeds and Blueberries
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup blueberries
- 2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
- Layer yogurt with blueberries and pumpkin seeds.
Herb Roasted Nuts
- 1 cup mixed nuts (walnuts, cashews, almonds, peanuts, etc.)
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. each dried rosemary and thyme
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Toss nuts with oil and seasonings.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
Note: this recipe makes 4 servings and is meant to have leftovers. If you prefer only one serving, use ¼ cup of nuts, 1 teaspoon oil, and a pinch of each seasoning. You can also add a variety of spices that boost flavor and health benefits. Turmeric is a great option that has anti-inflammatory properties.
Apple Slices with Nut Butter
- 1 medium apple, any variety
- 1 Tbsp. nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew depending on preference)
- Slice apple and spread nut butter evenly over each slice.
Vegetables and Hummus
- 1 medium carrot
- ¼ red bell pepper
- ¼ cup snap peas
- ¼ cup hummus
- Slice carrot into rounds.
- Slice bell pepper.
- Arrange vegetables on a plate with hummus.
Raspberry Chia Seed Pudding
- 1 cup milk of choice (dairy milk or any fortified plant milk works well)
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- 1 Tbsp. cocoa powder
- ½ cup raspberries
- Mix milk with chia seeds and cocoa powder. Set in refrigerator for 30 minutes.
- Stir well as chia seeds begin to thicken, place back into refrigerator for at least three hours.
- Enjoy ¼ cup of chia seed pudding with a handful of raspberries on top.
Note: this recipe makes four servings that can be stored in the refrigerator for future use. If making individual servings, use a 1 to 4 ratio of chia seeds to milk and reduce cocoa powder to 1 teaspoon.
Radish Slices with Avocado Mash
- 4 red radishes
- ½ avocado
- ½ Tbsp. dried cilantro
- 1 tsp. lime juice
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Slice radishes into thin disks.
- Mash avocado with a fork and mix with cilantro, lime juice, and salt and pepper.
- Use radish slices like chips and enjoy with the avocado mash.
Smoked Salmon Roll Ups
- 1 oz wild caught smoked salmon
- 1 Tbsp. cream cheese
- 1 Tbsp. craisins
- Spread cream cheese onto smoked salmon slices and top with craisins. Roll up the ingredients in the salmon, using a toothpick if needed to keep the rolls together.
Immune Boosting Oat Balls
- 1 cup gluten-free oats
- ½ cup peanut butter
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup or honey
- ½ cup walnuts
- ½ cup craisins
- Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl until well coated.
- Form into 1-inch balls and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container or bag for up to 7 days.
This recipe makes 10 immune boosting oat balls. Each ball is one serving.
Note: Original recipe from dietetic intern Katie White.
Mandarin Orange with Toasted Almonds
- 1 mandarin orange
- 7 almonds
- Add almonds to a small frying pan over medium high heat.
- Toast until fragrant, continuously moving almonds in pan with a spatula.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. Serve with mandarin orange slices.
Cottage Cheese and Strawberries
- ¼ cup cottage cheese
- 4 strawberries
- Slice strawberries and serve on top of cottage cheese.
- Huang Z, Liu Y, Qi G, Brand D, Zheng SG. Role of Vitamin A in the Immune System. J Clin Med. 2018;7(9):258. Published 2018 Sep 6. doi:10.3390/jcm7090258. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6162863/
- Mora JR, Iwata M, von Andrian UH. Vitamin effects on the immune system: vitamins A and D take centre stage. Nat Rev Immunol. 2008;8(9):685-698. doi:10.1038/nri2378. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2906676/
- Prasad AS. Zinc in human health: Effect of zinc on immune cells. Mol Med. 2008;14(5-6):353-357. doi:10.2119/2008-00033.Prasad. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2277319/
Written for GIG by Katie White, Bastyr University Dietetic Intern (2020-2021)
This article has been assessed and approved by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.
Disclaimer: GIG does not endorse any particular diet. We provide educational information to people living gluten-free. With any change in diet, consult your healthcare provider.
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