This recipe really packs a nutritional punch! Its great for boosting your immune system. All the information you need is at the end of the recipe. A great healthy lunch which, I think, is better served warm, however any leftovers would make a perfect packed lunch too. The sumac gives a tangy lemony flavour and is often used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cookery. It’s now stocked in most supermarkets with the herbs and spices.
400g tin chickpeas
sea salt and black pepper
grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
250g shiitake mushrooms
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ small red onion
100g bag fresh baby spinach, washed
100g feta cheese, crumbled
Drain the chickpeas and rinse well. Drain and
dry on kitchen paper and remove any loose skins. Place the chickpeas in a frying pan and drizzle over a little olive oil and a light sprinkling of sea salt. Shake to coat the chickpeas in the oil and salt. Cook over a medium heat for about 10 minutes until beginning to brown slightly.
Sprinkle over the sumac and return to the heat for 1 minute, shaking the pan. Add the lemon rind and transfer to a bowl to cool slightly. Wipe out the pan to cook the mushrooms.
Clean the mushrooms and tear into large pieces. Heat a little oil in the frying pan and cook the mushrooms with the garlic for 4-5 minutes or until softened. Season well.
Meanwhile, peel and thinly slice the onion and place in a large serving bowl with the lemon juice. Add the spinach to the onions with the mushroom, chickpeas, crumbled feta cheese and a good drizzle of olive oil. Season with plenty of black pepper and toss together to combine. Serve immediately.
Chickpeas are a great source of zinc, which assists the immune response by increasing resistance and reducing recovery time when the body is infected. Zinc also helps to regulate the production of cytokines which are the immune systems way of signalling to white blood cells where infection is causing inflammation.
Shiitake mushrooms contain large sugar molecules called polysaccharides. The type found in shiitake mushrooms is called a beta glucan. Research has shown that they have a powerful effect on the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells. The more white blood cells we can produce the better equipped we are to deal with infection effectively. To do this, the polysaccharides stimulate the Peyer’s Patch in the gut, which in turn triggers a reaction from the body’s immune system. The polysaccharides in shiitake mushrooms are also probiotic, which means they feed the good bacteria in the gut, which in turn helps certain bacteria to regulate the immune response.
Spinach is a good source of Vitamin C, which stimulates the production and activity of white blood cells. It also regulates an immune response called an ‘oxidative burst’ where leukocytes release a cloud of reactive oxygen when faced with pathogen. Vitamin C will also help the white blood cells resist oxidative damage during their normal immune response.
Garlic is known as a powerful anti viral. The sulphur-based essential oils in garlic cannot be removed through the kidneys or bowel. The only way these oils can be removed is on our breath. As they move through the respiratory tract the oils help to kill viruses and bacteria on their way!
A well known, excellent source of vitamin C, vital for efficient functioning of the immune system. Lemons also contain a compound called kaempferol, which has antibiotic properties.
Cheese contains zinc, which is used by the immune system to code their genes and to regulate the immune process.
Rich in omega 3 essential fatty acids, the olive oil will help reduce inflammation and keep cell membranes healthy.