As you navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re probably already washing your hands, physical distancing, and wearing masks. You might also be making changes to support and strengthen your immune system. Although no single food or nutrient will protect against illness, eating a balanced diet with specific nutrients can help.
Vitamin D is well known for its role in supporting bone health, but it also plays a role in immune function. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin as well as a hormone the body produces. The role of vitamin D in immune function is complicated, but it appears to keep the immune system in balance and minimize inflammation.
Sunlight helps your body manufacture vitamin D, but sunscreen blocks the UVB light needed for that process. You can increase your vitamin D intake with foods that naturally contain vitamin D (e.g., fatty fish, egg yolks, and beef liver) and vitamin D-fortified products (e.g., milk, cereals, and orange juice).
Try some of these great recipes to incorporate foods with vitamin D in your diet.
Teriyaki Salmon Skewers
This is a quick and easy recipe to make anytime. Salmon is a family-favorite fish and provides vitamin D.
12 ounces salmon fillet
3 ½ tablespoons teriyaki sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
¼ cup minced scallions
¼ teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
Step 1: On a cutting board, cut the salmon into approximately 1-ounce slices.
Step 2: In a bowl, mix the salmon slices with the teriyaki sauce until they’re all evenly coated.
Step 3: Marinate the salmon in the refrigerator for one hour.
Step 4: Put each salmon slice on a separate skewer.
Step 5: Very lightly brush the salmon with the oil, then place the skewers on a hot barbecue or chargrill pan. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, until lightly charred and sticky.
Step 6: Place the skewers on a platter. Garnish with the scallions and sesame seeds.
Labneh Cheese (Yogurt Cheese)
Enjoy this cheese as a spread for crackers or crusty bread or as a dip for vegetables. Milk is the most common dietary source of vitamin D.
2 ⅓ cups plain whole-milk yogurt
½ teaspoon kosher salt
2 ½ tablespoons olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons za’atar seasoning (optional)
Step 1: Line a strainer or colander with cheesecloth or a coffee filter.
Step 2: In a bowl, add the yogurt and salt. Mix well.
Step 3: Transfer the yogurt to the strainer. Fold the edges of the cheesecloth or filter to cover the yogurt.
Step 4: Place the strainer over a container, with at least 3 inches between the bottom of each vessel. Place the container in refrigerator for 36 to 48 hours to drain out the liquid. The longer the cheese drains, the drier it will become.
Step 5: Remove the container from the refrigerator. Spread the cheese out onto a serving platter.
Step 6: Top the cheese with the olive oil and za'atar seasoning (if desired) before serving.
Chef’s tip: The recipe won’t work with Greek, low-fat, or fat-free yogurt.
Bacon and Jalapeño Deviled Eggs
A fun twist on classic deviled eggs, this great snack serves up 2% of your daily vitamin D needs in just half an egg.
3 slices bacon
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
⅛ teaspoon paprika
Step 1: In a pot over medium heat, hard-boil the eggs, then shock them in ice water.
Step 2: In a pan over medium heat, cook the bacon strips until they’re crispy. Remove them from the pan, cool them slightly, then roughly chop them.
Step 3: On a cutting board, cut the jalapeño in half. Remove the stem and seeds, then mince each half. Set the jalapeño pieces aside.
Step 4: Remove the shells from the eggs. Cut each egg in half lengthwise.
Step 5: Remove the yolks from the eggs and place them in a separate bowl. Place the egg whites on a sheet pan.
Step 6: In the bowl with the yolks, add the mayonnaise, Dijon, kosher salt, and white pepper. Using a rubber spatula, stir the ingredients until they become a creamy mixture.
Step 7: Spoon even amounts of the mixture into each egg white.
Step 8: Top each egg white with even amounts of the paprika, chopped bacon, and minced jalapeño. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.
End your day by pairing this dessert with your favorite fresh fruits. This tasty treat will provide you with 4% of your daily vitamin D goal.
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 ¼ teaspoons unflavored gelatin powder
⅔ cup heavy cream
⅔ cup 1% milk
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Step 1: In a bowl, combine the sugar and gelatin. Mix thoroughly.
Step 2: In a saucepan over medium heat, add the heavy cream and milk. Stir until the mixture begins to simmer. Add the sugar-gelatin mixture and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
Step 3: Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Pour the mixture into molds and chill overnight in the refrigerator until set and ready to serve.
Chef’s tip: If you don’t have molds, use small rocks glasses or disposable 5-ounce cups.