(Editorial) Nutrition is key: Recipes for boosting immunity and overall wellness

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The road to a healthier you starts with your nutritionally-sound diet choices and making those choices a habitual lifestyle. Along with elevating your heart rate by exercising at least 30 minutes a day, three times weekly, your nutrition is key in your overall health and wellness. Managing your micronutrients, staying hydrated and getting appropriate sleep–not only will you feel better, but will boost your immunity, allow you to recover better, carry less stress and overall feel more rested.

One of my favorite quotes asks:

“How do you have the energy to work all day, then go work out?”

The answer was: “I have the energy to work all day BECAUSE I work out.”

One way to incorporate a healthier mindset is to get others involved by having accountability from the people closest to you. Creating healthy dinner options is one step forward to a more nutritionally sound lifestyle. Here are a few family-friendly recipes with minimum ingredients:

Salmon and Asparagus sheet pan meal (Pictured above)

Ingredients

1 pound thin asparagus*

1 pound salmon, wild caught if possible

2 tablespoons olive oil

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Lemon

Minced fresh herbs (like chives, mint or thyme), for garnish

Instructions

Allow salmon to come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Trim the asparagus. Place it on the baking sheet and toss it with 2 tablespoon olive oil (this also oils the foil). Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Pat the salmon dry and place it on the foil. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle the salmon with ½ teaspoon kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper. Place asparagus around the salmon. Slice the lemon into wheels and place them on top of the asparagus (but not the salmon). Squeeze juice from the two ends of the lemon onto the tray. Then add the chopped fresh herbs on top of everything.

Bake 9 – 12 minutes until the asparagus is tender at the thickest part, and the salmon is just tender and pink at the center (the internal temperature should be between 125 to 130F in the center for done, or 10 degrees less if you’re broiling). If the salmon is done before the asparagus (the asparagus is thick), remove it from the tray and continue cooking just the asparagus until tender.

Notes

*Thin asparagus is best, so try to find the thinnest you can when shopping. If all you can find is thicker asparagus, you may need a little longer to roast (up to 15 minutes). Just remove the salmon from the tray if it’s already done and finish the asparagus by itself.

Vegan friendly Caprese zoodles (OR add chicken)

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INGREDIENTS

4 large zucchinis

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved

1 c. mozzarella balls, quartered if large

1/4 c. fresh basil leaves

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

OR- add boneless/skinless chicken breast

DIRECTIONS

1. Using a spiralizer, create zoodles out of zucchini.

2. Add zoodles to a large bowl, toss with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Let marinate 15 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, mozzarella and basil to zoodles and toss until combined.

4. Drizzle with balsamic and serve.

Lemon Garlic Butter Chicken + Green Beans skillet

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INGREDIENTS:

3 – 6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs

1 pound (450g) green beans, trimmed

3 tablespoons butter, divided or another butter option

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/4 teaspoon salt and fresh cracked black pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon + lemon slices, for garnish

1/2 cup (125ml) chicken stock

1 tablespoon hot sauce (we used Sriracha)

1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili pepper flakes, optional

1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley

DIRECTIONS

1. To make the lemon garlic butter chicken thighs recipe with green beans: In a small bowl, combine onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Season chicken thighs generously with the spice mixture. Set aside while you prepare green beans.

2. Arrange green beans in a microwave-safe dish with 1/2 cup (125ml) water. Cook in the microwave for 8-10 minutes, until almost done but still crisp.

3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Lay the seasoned chicken thighs in one layer in the skillet. Cook for 5-6 minutes then flip and cook another 5-6 minutes, until cooked through and a cooking thermometer displays 165°F (75°C). If chicken browns too quickly, lower the heat. Adjust timing depending on the thickness. Transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

4. In the same skillet, lower the heat and melt the remaining tablespoon of butter. Add chopped parsley, garlic, hot sauce, red crushed chili pepper flakes and pre-cooked green beans and cook for 4 – 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until cooked to your liking. Add lemon juice and chicken stock and reduce the sauce for a couple of minutes, until slightly thickened.

5. Push green beans to the side and add cooked chicken thighs back to the pan and reheat quickly. Adjust seasoning with pepper and serve the lemon garlic butter chicken thighs immediately, garnished with more crushed chili pepper, fresh parsley, and a slice of lemon if you like. Enjoy!

TIPS FOR THE CHICKEN THIGHS RECIPE

Remove chicken thighs from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before cooking to bring them close to room temperature.

We use boneless and skinless chicken thighs because they render less fat and cook quicker than bone-in. Plus, it is easier to rub the spice mixture deep into the chicken meat.

Season chicken thighs just before cooking to prevent drawing out moisture and drying out the meat. If you want to let it sit longer, omit the salt from the spice mixture, and add it 10 minutes before cooking.

You can add crispy bacon to the green beans for a nice flavor.

For a variant of this chicken thighs recipe, you can use chicken tenders instead of chicken thighs. They’re delicious and cook faster! Just keep an eye on it so they don’t overcook and dry up.

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