You’ve heard about the benefits of eating healthier food, getting more rest, going out in the sun, and reducing your stress to improve your immune system (all great ideas!). But actually doing these things can be the hard part, so we wanted to offer you some ways to accomplish these things that you might not have thought of, and more importantly are also fun! There will be more tips to come, and we’d love your help with that too (see below for how you can contribute and get rewarded).

1. Find your own food: With long, stressful grocery lines and the uncertainty of online delivery, this is a great time to find your own food! Start with your own backyard or nearby woods: chances are you’re already spending more time outside soaking up the great immune system-supporting vitamin D from the sun (good for you!), so why not pull some weeds for dinner and double your benefits? If you have kids at home, it’s a lot of fun for them – see who can bag the most! (Just don’t let them know it’s educational too!)

Dandelion and purslane are just a few of the common weeds you might have in your backyard or neighborhood right now that are uber-healthy – just make sure they haven’t been sprayed with pesticides! Dandelions are full of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds as well as vitamins A, C and K, and are so very versatile: you can eat the greens raw or cooked, and every part of the plant is edible. The purslane plant is highly nutritious as well, unique in that it is high in omega-3 fatty acids which is important for vegans especially, and is also high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Just google to find many other delicious – or at least healthy – weeds and other plants you can find in the wild, along with ways to prepare them. Foraging is penny-saving and can be addicting, but before you put any of your treasure finds in your mouth, be sure to learn how to identify and eat them safely (especially mushrooms – but any plant or berry).  One veteran expert we like to watch is “Wildman” Steve Brill – check out his youtube video from one of his foraging trips through Central Park – you’ll be amazed at the edibles he finds right in the middle of New York City! https://youtu.be/BeJn3VeCSRA

Purslane – edible “weed”

2. Try a new food every couple days or at least once a week (and if you’re foraging for edibles or buying from a vegetable delivery service, this will be extra easy).  Most of us get stuck in food ruts and eat the same old boring thing or two for breakfast nearly every day. Maybe your lunch and dinner choices lack a little imagination as well. So use your isolation time to break out of your routine and go exploring in the vast world of plant-based foods – because variety is not only the spice of life, it’s much better for your health.

Eating more adventurously ensures you are getting a big fat dose of all the wonderful vitamins and minerals that nature has provided to build our immune systems – and don’t forget to go for colorful foods especially. If you have kids at home, get them involved in making choices or googling or helping with recipes. If you grow your own food, buy some new plants or seeds. Try a new “super” food. Exchange different foods with a neighbor (using safe social distancing and sanitizing practices of course). Google or experiment with different ways to cook and season them, and you are almost bound to find new favorites.

With kids, make it fun – crafting “bugs” made out of vegetables – eggplants, peppers, mushrooms, etc. – was a particularly memorable activity for my kiddos when they were young!

3. Punch something: Stress is one of the worst things for your immune system, and one of the best ways to vent some of the stress and even anger we are all naturally feeling right now is to let it out on a punching bag (non-human one of course!). Since most of us don’t already have one in our homes and can’t go to the gym right now to use one, you can punch a pillow, a big stuffed animal, or even just your bed or couch cushions. You can also order an inexpensive kid-sized one online. Are you creative or sew? Make one! (be sure to send us a pic!). How about just an old-fashioned pillow fight?

Want to scream or yell when you punch? Even better! Just make sure the neighbors can’t hear you or else let them know what you’re doing – having the police show up at your door would only increase your stress!  How long should you punch? Until you feel a lot better or your arms get sore!

Get rewarded for contributing your own tips – if we use one, your name will be included in a monthly drawing for a plant-based cookbook! Just email your ideas to joanna@plantbasednetwork.com and good luck!

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