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First Coast Foodies: Back-to-school foods that will boost your immune system

We did the research so you can amp up your kids' breakfast and lunch.

JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — Whether you are going back to school in-person or staying virtual, we are still in the middle of a pandemic. Staying healthy is more important than ever.

Breakfast

Credit: Leah Shields

Start your day with yogurt and berries. You can put this together the night before to make your morning easier. 

Healthline.com, a health information website, says yogurt is high in Vitamin D and has probiotics, both will boost your immune system. Get plain yogurt and sweeten with honey.

I personally like to buy a bag of frozen berries. They are often cheaper than buying them in the produce section and they defrost perfectly. Berries are known for being loaded with antioxidants. Linwood Health Foods says berries are high in Vitamin C which can "protect the immune system against deficiencies." 

Lunch

Credit: Leah Shields

Switch up the traditional ham and cheese sandwich with these yummy pinwheels. You roll a wrap and then cut it in sections. It looks like sandwich sushi and will be fun for the younger kids to eat!

I used chicken from Boar's Head, spinach, and bell pepper. The glue that holds it all together is vegetable cream cheese, which adds a ton of flavor. 

The UC David Health blog says "good food is good medicine." They say red bell pepper is rich with Vitamin A and C, both vital for your immune system. 

They list meat and poultry as high in zinc and protein. UC Davis Health blog says a lack of zinc has been linked to immune deficiency and the nutrients in protein help your immune system work more effectively. 

Spinach is known as a superfood. Healthline says it is high in antioxidants, Vitamin C, and beta carotene. This sandwich is stuffed with spinach but when you put it in pinwheels, your kids won't know how much greens they're actually getting. 

Dessert

Credit: Leah Shields

I'm not waiting until after dinner to eat these. These faux cookie dough balls are perfect to pack in your kid's lunchbox. Freeze them overnight and they'll defrost gradually throughout the day. By lunchtime, they have the perfect cookie dough texture, but meanwhile they are healthy and full of protein (plus no eggs).

I found this recipe through TikTok by user Alyssa Fontaine. Her video didn't have any measurements so I went rogue. These are my new favorite non-guilty treat. Parents, make sure you make yourself some extra.

I used a can of chickpeas, about a cup of creamy peanut butter, a teaspoon of coconut oil, a quarter cup of maple syrup, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a sprinkle of course sea salt. Feel free to switch out the peanut butter for another nut butter if you are allergic or want a different flavor. 

Blend all of those ingredients together in a food processor or literally a blender. Scoop into a bowl and pour in enough chocolate chips until you are happy. It is seriously a preference, but if you need a measurement I would say start with 1/2 cup. 

Chickpeas and nut butters are full of protein which is not only great for your immune system, but it is good for your brain's health. You can read more about brain power food here.

Make sure you join the First Coast Foodies Facebook page run by digital manager Melissa Guz for more cool stories on food near you. 

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