You can protect yourself against illness and enjoy optimal good health by tossing up an immune-boosting "super salad" that a nutrition expert created exclusively for Herald-Guide readers who don't like getting sick.
Dr. Donna Schwontkowski says the inexpensive combination of fresh vegetables, crunchy nuts, tangy apple vinegar, cold-pressed olive oil and zesty spices will fortify your body's defenses against any illness, including colds and flu, Katrina's bacterial "superbugs" and even more frightening afflictions, like cancer.
Not only that, "You can enjoy your super-immunity salad anytime, anywhere, anyplace."
"The dish," she told the Herald-Guide exclusively, "is as much at home as a 'starter' at a posh dinner party as it is stuffed into a plastic bag and shoved into a construction worker's mud-caked lunch box.
"Nothing can protect you 100 percent against colds and the flu, but this salad is packed with foods that can help everyone from the poorest of the poor to the super rich develop maximum immunity to protect their health.
"With cold and flu season on the way, and bacterial threats from Katrina looming throughout the region, this is no time to take chances with your health.
"I urge each of you to start building your defenses without delay. My salad is designed to help you do that. And it's both economical and easy to make. There's no reason you can't enjoy this salad or something similar, varied to suit your tastes, every day.
"It's a terrific dish to help you maintain the best possible health even if you're already feeling great and can't remember the last time you were sick," she adds.
"Healthful fresh foods and a sensible lifestyle that includes age-appropriate exercise can help protect everyone from the big 'shocker diseases' we all fear, things like heart disease and cancers. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you."
All you need to make Dr. Schwontkowski's salad and dressing (for one person) are: 3 leaves Romaine lettuce, 6 leaves Spinach, 1/2 tomato, 2 carrots, 1/2 cup raw broccoli, 1/2 sweet potato; 1/2 cup papaya (optional); 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds; 2 Brazil nuts; 2 oz cheese, cheddar; 1 leaf kale, 1 handful parsley, and 1/2 chili pepper.
Slice, dice or shred all ingredients into bite-size portions and place into a bowl; toss them as you would any other salad. Top with 2 tablespoons toasted wheat germ, available at any supermarket or health food store. If you can't find it, ask the store manager to get it for you.
For your dressing, mix 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar. Add 1 clove pressed garlic and a 1/4 teaspoon of kelp or crumbled seaweed granules from your grocery store's spice rack or ethnic food section. Flick in a dash of crushed red pepper. Shake rapidly to blend.
"The salad is delightfully crunchy, spicy and sweet," says Schwontkowski, noting that each ingredient plays a special role in stimulating our body's defenses and protecting us from illness.
"When it comes to fending off viruses, bacteria and microbes that can make us sick, our stomach acid is a first line of defense.
"Chili peppers and red pepper in the salad stimulate production of stomach acid," she continues. "The thiamine in wheat germ and sunflower seeds and the vitamin B-6 content of the wheat germ also help the production of stomach acid.
"Sunflower seeds also provide fiber, which helps the colon do its job. The last thing you need when you're sick is to be constipated - swimming in your own toxins."
Dr. Schwontkowski points out that broccoli and spinach are excellent sources of vitamin C and B-2.
"Vitamin C speeds recovery from viruses and stimulates the white blood cells to kill bacteria and fungi, while vitamin B-2 is important for the production of antibodies," she explains.
"Vitamin A prevents damage from microbes to the linings of the respiratory, digestive and urinary tracts and produces bacteria-fighting enzymes in tears, saliva and sweat. The sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and papaya are good sources of vitamin A."
Garlic is a good source of selenium, says Schwontkowski, "as are the Brazil nuts, wheat germ, and apple cider vinegar. Selenium enhances the ability of the white blood cells to kill bacteria.
"The olive oil, wheat germ, tomato and dark green vegetables contain vitamin E, which significantly enhances the body's ability to produce antibodies in response to pathogens.
"Wheat germ also is excellent for providing pantothenic acid that helps your body deal with stress. The cheese is a good source of B-12, which helps keep the white blood cell numbers up to kill microbes.
"And the seaweed and kelp provide the body with minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, which help cut down dangerous inflammation in the body."
Cost of the salad will vary slightly depending on where you shop. But you should be able to make a daily serving for about $1 a day, Schwontkowski says.
Question? Comment? Health tip of your own to share? Write to Herald-Guide Editor Derek Clontz at firstname.lastname@example.org . Question or comment for Dr. Donna Schwontkowski? Write to her at email@example.com
Donna Schwontkowski is a retired Doctor of Chiropractic, Master Herbalist - and she also holds a master's degree in nutrition. She has written six books on health and nutrition, hosts her own health television show in Sacramento, California, edits a health magazine and has served as a nutrition consultant for private corporations on two continents.