Our go-go-go, always-on lifestyles don’t just leave us feeling tired. Without proper rest and relaxation, we can also weaken and suppress our immune system. An over-taxed immune system that’s always stressed and overburdened has a more difficult time responding to infection and disease, leaving us more susceptible to numerous health problems. This Labor Day, give your mind and body a break and help restore your immunity. And since many Labor Day celebrations involve food, try the following meal ideas! Each dish is quick to make and delicious, while also containing ingredients that help promote calmness, relaxation, and rejuvenation on a cellular level.
BREAKFAST: Ginger Detox Shake
You expose your body to a lot of toxins on a daily basis, whether it’s from chronic stress, lack of relaxation, poor diet — Labor Day is often celebrated with barbecues and beer, and while these celebratory dishes are delicious, they tax your immune system and liver — or environmental pollution.
Get your day of rest and relaxation off to a healthy start with this detoxification shake. It will help cleanse your body and mind, while the fresh ginger is high in plant compounds shown to soothe away chronic inflammation and energize your immune system. You’ll also get lots of healthy fats from chia seeds and coconut milk, which also promote calmness and rest. But you won’t be thinking of any of that when you take a sip — it’s sweet and creamy with strong tropical flavors, transporting your tastebuds away to a Hawaiian vacation.
1/2 cup frozen peaches
1/2 cup frozen pineapple
1/2 cup frozen mango
3-4 tbsp lemon juice
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
2-inch ginger root, peeled and grated
1/2 tbsp honey, ideally raw and organic
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp chia seeds or flax seeds
Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until creamy. Enjoy!
LUNCH: Mediterranean Quinoa Salad
The mineral magnesium has exceptional benefits when it comes to stress, levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and even muscle relaxation, reports the Linus Pauling Institute. No wonder it’s often referred to as “nature’s chill pill,” and it’s a great way to promote calmness and rest on a cellular level. Whole grains are one of the best natural sources of this mineral, and quinoa is very rich in it.
This lunch takes just a few minutes to whip together, and can be enjoyed chilled or at room temperature — perfect for Labor Day picnics or for packing in a Mason jar to work or school. It’s infused with olive oil, antioxidant-rich herbs, and lemon juice, all inspired by the Mediterranean Diet (one of the most well-researched diets shown to possibly boost immunity, promote weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, and reduce your risks of numerous chronic diseases).
1 c uncooked white or tri-color quinoa
2 c water
1 15-oz can of chickpeas/garbonzo beans, drained
1 cucumber, seeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 red onion, minced
1 c finely minced parsley
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice (ideally fresh-squeezed from 2-3 lemons)
1 tbsp red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a pot, then reduce to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
In a salad bowl, toss the parsley, beans, cucumber, bell pepper and red onion.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, veingar, crushed garlic, salt and pepper.
Toss the quinoa, dressing and veggie mix together and enjoy!
DINNER: Miso Rainbow Trout
It’s well-established that most of us don’t eat enough omega-3 fatty acids, which is why our stressed bodies are so susceptible to chronic inflammation. These healthy fats may also help reduce stress and anxiety, making it the perfect calming ingredient to enjoy in the evening before a night of relaxation.
Many people turn to salmon as a source of omega-3s, but rainbow trout is also a sustainable source of omega-3s. It’s a mild white fish that cooks quickly, is easy to season, and is also a rich source of magnesium, calcium, several B vitamins, and protein.
This delicious dinner pairs the mild flavor of trout with the creamy saltiness of miso, a fermented soy product that adds umami (savoriness) and is also good for your immune system and gut health.
3-4 rainbow trout fillets
1/4 cup maple syrup, ideally organic
2 tbsp yellow or red miso paste
2 tbsp avocado oil or olive oil
2 green onions, chopped with the white stem and bulb removed
1 tbsp chili paste
1 tsp mild yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
In a bowl, whisk together the miso, oil, green onions, and seasoning.
Grease a baking dish and place the rainbow trout fillets skin side facing down.
Brush the marinade over the fish and let it marinate for 15 minutes.
While the fish is marinating, preheat your oven to medium broil. Broil the fish for 10 minutes or until it flakes easily. Enjoy on its own or pair with a healthy side dish (such as the quinoa salad listed above!). Enjoy!