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Food & Drink by Shari Darling For more information on wine and food, go to www.sharidarling.com I t’s important to maintain a strong immune system in every season, not just in the winter. When we think about supporting our immune system, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) immediately comes to mind. We visualize oranges. Vitamin C improves immune health by making antibodies that help to destroy viruses and bacteria and help clear infected cells in our body. Oranges are not the only source of vitamin C. Many other foods contain this water-soluble vitamin, such as tomatoes, potatoes, straw- berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kiwi, and red and green bell peppers. Did you know that gram for gram, fresh thyme has three times more vitamin C than oranges? This herb offers one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C of all the culinary herbs. Obviously, it’s easier to eat one fresh orange than a handful of fresh thyme. But the point is that we often associate getting vitamin C from fruit. We fail to remember that we can get a good dose of this vitamin from other foods and savoury dishes. For example, preparing dishes such as Creamy LemonThyme Chicken offers an added dose of vitamin C to your daily intake. By sprink- ling about 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme on this dish, you get about 3.9 milligrams of vitamin C. The tablespoon of fresh lemon juice used in the preparation of this dish also brings up your vitamin C intake by another 53 milligrams. This doesn’t seem like much, but every little bit counts toward keeping your immune system healthy. Red and green bell peppers are a powerful source of vitamin C. A cup of raw red peppers provides about 317 per cent of the recom- mended daily value (according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture). Red peppers are also a great source of carotenoids, polyphenols and other phytochemicals. Cooking bell pep- pers does break down some of the vitamin C, but cooking also builds its carotenoids and ferulic acid, thus helping to prevent chronic diseases. Green bell peppers deliver about 200 per cent of our daily intake of vitamin C. Red, green, yellow and orange bell peppers can be utilized in a whole range of savoury dishes. How about Roasted Red Pepper Soup served either hot in winter or chilled as gaz- pacho in the summer? Top this soup with a hefty dollop of crumbled goat cheese, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a teaspoon of fresh thyme. Delicious! Or how about red bell pepper brownies? Have you ever considered adding red peppers to your orange-and-cran- berry muffins? Red, green, yellow and orange peppers can be stuffed with a whole range of ingredient combinations to satisfy your palate and pro- vide a good source of vitamin C. Here are a few ideas: • Diced bacon and eggs • Buffalo chicken cubes with rice, diced mozzarella and topped with sour cream • Baby turkey meatballs, diced mozzarella and marinara sauce • Chicken cubes, broccoli, white rice and shredded cheddar • Chicken cubes, rice, grated fresh Parmigiano and shredded mozzarella • Cheese steak, prepared with steak slices, sautéed diced mushrooms, sautéed diced onion, Italian seasoning and topped with melted provolone cheese • Chicken cubes, spinach, artichoke, shredded mozzarella and grated fresh Parmigiano • Ground turkey, rice, garlic, marinara and mozzarella • Black beans, corn, scallions, chili pepper and Havarti • Quinoa, rice, and even spaghetti with Bolognese sauce. Supporting Your Immune System with Vitamin C 44 | www. snowbirds .org

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