My kids have been coming home every day with reports of yet another classmate (or four) taken out by an ugly tummy bug that’s been working its way through their school. Fueled by tales of friends having all nighters doubled over a bucket, Isabelle, my oldest, wanted to know how she could avoid the dreaded flu.
There are the obvious suggestions—hand washing, not sharing food or utensils, perhaps extra vitamin C-rich foods. But one commonly overlooked approach for warding off winter bugs is to load up on foods rich in healthy bacteria: probiotics.
The GI tract plays a giant role in overall immunity, which is why keeping plenty of good bacteria in there is important. Unfortunately, the very antibiotics used to fight illness can also throw the balance of bacteria out of whack. Eating foods rich in L. acidophilus, B. bifidum, and other beneficial bacteria can help.
In our house, we rely largely on good quality yogurt and kefir for our probiotics. Kefir is essentially fermented milk that has the consistency and taste of drinkable yogurt. Since a lot of fermented foods aren’t particularly rich in healthy bacteria, look for products that feature the Live and Active Cultures seal. Stonyfield Farm plain, organic yogurt? Yes. Little containers of Trix-themed yogurt with plastic pouches of colored sprinkles? Not so much.
Smoothies are one of the most appealing ways to get healthy fermented foods into your kids. In the case of yogurt and kefir, they’ll also take in extra calcium and protein. Peach Raspberry Spoon Smoothie is a favorite. Suitable for breakfast or an afternoon snack, it’s so thick, you can eat it with a spoon. Topped with granola or other crunchy cereal, it feels a little more like a meal than a traditional smoothie. You’ll find two more healthy smoothie recipes here.
Peach Raspberry Spoon Smoothie
• 3/4 cup low-fat peach kefir
• 1 medium frozen banana, sliced
• 1/2 cup frozen sliced peaches
• 1/2 cup frozen raspberries
• 1/3 cup prepared granola or crunchy, whole-grain breakfast cereal
Pour the kefir into a blender. Add the banana and blend until smooth. Add the peaches and continue to blend. Finish by adding the raspberries and blend well.
With the aid of a spoon, pour the smoothie into two cups or small bowls and top with the granola. Serve with spoons.
Makes 2 servings