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From Our Dietitians: Immune-Supportive Recipes with Protein

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While navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be looking for ways to support your immune system. No single food or nutrient is the solution, but a well-balanced diet with select nutrients can help. After sharing information and recipes for vitamin C, vitamin D, beta-carotene, and zinc, we’re doing the same for protein!

This macronutrient is necessary for a variety of functions within our bodies, including helping with immunity. Proteins help form antibodies, which protect the body from harmful bacteria and viruses. Other uses for protein include building and repairing tissues along with producing hormones and enzymes that promote a healthy immune system.

Proteins are made up of building blocks called amino acids, some of which the body can make on its own (nonessential) and some that are consumed through food (essential). It’s important for your diet to include a variety of protein-rich foods — such as poultry, meats, seafood, eggs, legumes, grains, and seeds — to get all the amino acids your immune system needs. Try some of the recipes below, which pack a serious protein punch!

Three-Bean Soup
Serve this quick and comforting soup, which provides 8 grams of protein per cup.
Servings: 10

2 cloves garlic
15 ounces canned diced tomatoes
15 ounces canned kidney beans
15 ounces canned garbanzo beans
1 ½ teaspoons vegetable oil
¾ cup diced onions
5 cups vegetable broth
½ cup dry lentils
1 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
⅓ cup part-skim shredded mozzarella

Step 1: On a cutting board, mince the garlic cloves. In a strainer, drain the tomatoes, then drain and rinse the beans. Set aside.

Step 2: In a soup pot, heat the vegetable oil. Add the onions and garlic, sautéing until browned.

Step 3: Add the broth, tomatoes, beans, lentils, tomato paste, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Let the soup simmer for 20 minutes.

Step 4: Sprinkle in the mozzarella. Stir until mixed in.

Butter Chicken
Cook up this savory chicken dish for an easy weeknight meal with 15 grams of protein per serving.
Servings: 6

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 garlic cloves
¾ teaspoon lime juice
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon chile powder
2 tablespoons plain nonfat yogurt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon garam masala
⅛ teaspoon ground coriander
⅛ teaspoon ground cumin
⅛ teaspoon turmeric
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ teaspoon vegetable oil
½ cup diced onions
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
⅓ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 ½ tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Step 1: On a cutting board, trim and dice the chicken breasts. On a separate cutting board, mince the garlic cloves. Set aside.

Step 2: In a bowl, combine the lime juice, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, and chile powder. Mix well. Add the diced chicken. Put the bowl in the fridge to chill and marinate for 1 hour.

Step 3: In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, cardamom, garam masala, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves. Add the mixture to the chicken.

Step 4: In a skillet over medium heat, add the vegetable oil and onions. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until the onions are caramelized.

Step 5: Add the garlic and ginger. Cook for 3 minutes.

Step 6: Add the chicken with the marinade. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165⁰F.

Step 7: Reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the chicken broth and tomato paste. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Step 8: Stir in ½ teaspoon kosher salt, heavy cream, and butter.

Step 9: Garnish with the cilantro.

OLD BAY® Tuna Salad
Whip up this easy tuna salad with a twist for an on-the-go lunch that adds lean fish to your diet and contains 20 grams of protein per serving.
Servings: 6

16 ounces canned albacore tuna
½ cup diced celery
¼ cup diced red onion
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon OLD BAY® Seasoning
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon minced chives
2 scallions

Step 1: In a strainer, drain the tuna. Set aside.

Step 2: In a bowl, combine the celery, red onion, lemon juice, Old Bay, cayenne pepper, mayonnaise, chives, and scallions. Mix well.

Step 3: Fold the drained tuna into the mayonnaise mixture.

Step 4: Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat.

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