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Recipes with Zerlina Mastin

This month is all about boosting the immune system with delicious, easy to prepare meals!

Dancers in particular are vulnerable to coughs and colds. Despite the known benefits of regular exercise on the immune system, continuous, highly intense training can have a detrimental effect on our defense system, leading to what specialists refer to as ‘temporary post-exercise immune dysfunction’.

We frequently hear of Vitamin C’s role in boosting our immune function, but a healthy immunity requires more than just a single vitamin! In fact, for our immune system to function efficiently, many key micronutrients have been identified as helping us fight off infection, in particular Vitamin B6, C, E, magnesium, zinc and selenium, all of which we can get from a healthy balanced diet.

Even less well known is the role our guts play in our resistance against infection. Approximately 75% of our immune system is located in our gut! This is because the rich and diverse microbes living in our intestine (known as gut flora, or microbiota) act as a barrier against unwanted microorganisms, as well as being key to our overall health. What we eat can quickly change our microbes, from extra virgin olive oil (which contains the highest number of microbe-friendly polyphenols compared to other fats) to omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseed oil and oily fish. Other foods that encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut include prebiotics, found in complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and wholegrains. Products containing friendly live bacteria (for example, live yoghurt) are called ‘probiotics’.

The following recipes provide many beneficial nutrients, however their immune boosting properties are highlighted in this month’s selection.


Amongst many other health benefits, omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the good bacteria that live in our gut. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in oily fish (such as salmon and mackerel) as well as walnuts and walnut and linseed oil (also known as flaxseed oil), all of which are available from supermarkets and health food stores.

Porridge is a great start to a wintery day! Packed with tummy friendly fibre and healthy fats, it is quick and easy to prepare.

Serves: 2


80g porridge oats, 2 small apples (grated), pinch of cinnamon, 400g milk, 2 tbsp. ground linseed, small pot (150ml) of live yoghurt, drizzle of honey.


  • Mix the oats, apples, cinnamon and milk in a saucepan and bring to the boil (stirring occasionally). Turn down the heat and cook on low for 4-5 mins, stirring continuously.

  • Take off the heat, stir in the ground linseeds and divide into 2 breakfast bowls. Top with a large spoonful of live yoghurt, and drizzle with a little honey and cinnamon.

*Note: linseed/flaxseed oil should not be heated (heating the oil destroys much of its nutritional benefits).


The next recipe by Zerlina will be released on Monday 12th March 2018.

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