Updated: Sep 22, 2021

A strong immune system is the key to staying healthy. As with many aspects of your body and mind, the foods and drinks you consume directly affect your immune system’s performance. Fortunately, there are plenty of delicious immunity-boosting options to enjoy, and many of the ingredients can be sourced locally in Wilmington and the Cape Fear region. Here are five of our favorite recipes to get you started.

By Katie Tajada

1. Oysters (Fried or Fresh)

Oysters are rich in zinc, an essential nutrient that keeps your immune system functioning. That’s great news because North Carolina’s coastline is an ideal place to find them, and Cape Fear oysters in particular are an absolute treat.

Oysters are fantastic whether you’re slurping them down raw on the half shell or dipping fried fritters in cocktail sauce. Just make sure to enjoy them in moderation, as too much zinc can actually reduce immune function, according to WebMD.

Here’s an easy recipe for North Carolina-style crusty fried oysters you can make at home.

● Combine and mix one beaten egg and two tablespoons of cold water

● Place 1-2 cups (less or more as needed) of crushed saltine crackers in a shallow bowl

● Dip oysters into the egg and water mixture

● Roll them in the cracker crumbs

● Fry them in hot vegetable oil for 2 minutes on each side (or until golden brown) Let them rest on paper towels for a few minutes before serving

2. Fruit Smoothies

Many fruits are rich in immune-boosting nutrients and antioxidants, and smoothies are a delicious and nutritious way to consume a variety of fruits. This recipe is formulated specifically for its immunity-boosting properties, but don’t be shy about making it your own. Kiwi and papaya are both fantastic additions.

If you can’t find your favorite fruits locally, you can always stock your fridge with aseptic fruit purees so you can mix up tasty concoctions with ease. Add a portable blender to the mix and you can take your smoothies anywhere, from coastal jogs to sunset adventures on the boat. Splash a little North Carolina gin in the mix for a refreshing cocktail!

● ¾ cup orange juice