Healthy Recipes to Boost Your Immune System

Healthy Recipes to Boost Your Immune System

By: Jim Perko Sr. CEC, AAC • Posted on January 29, 2024

Evidence based science shows that what we eat, and how we prepare our food is significant to the foundation of good health, and building a strong immune system that supports the formation of wellness. This is especially true for meals that can boost your immune system. Eating meals that include immune boosting ingredients can help you ward off illnesses and protect your body from cold and flu viruses – which is especially important during the winter months.

I’m devoted to our Culinary Medicine program at Cleveland Clinic that helps our patients, caregivers, and the communities we serve to teach people how to cook healthy meals for any dietary restrictions. In this column, I’m sharing some of our most popular recipes that are easy-to-make and filled with healthy ingredients that can help fight inflammation and boost our immune system.    

Tips and Recipes to Start your Day

Egg White Frittata

This egg white frittata recipe is made with ginger, turmeric, spinach, peppers, chives and basil, which make eating immune boosting foods taste fabulous and a joy to eat!

Oatmeal Berrie Crisp

This oatmeal berrie crisp recipe is a patient favorite in our programs and loaded with immune boosting berries, whole oats, chia and flax seed.


Eating legumes for breakfast is a time-tested way to start your day. Our traditional chickpea hummus, sweet potato, and roasted red pepper hummus recipes are easy and affordable.

Tips and Recipes for Soups and Snacks to Desserts

Broccoli, dark leafy greens, bright vegetables, garlic, legumes, whole grains, spices, nuts, seeds, mushrooms, fatty fish and citrus are all shown in studies to boost our immune system. These recipes below are made with many of these ingredients and are quick and easy for a healthy snack.

Broccoli and Bean Salad

This broccoli and bean salad recipe uses legumes to displace two thirds of oil in a traditional vinaigrette by mashing them in to thicken the dressing.

Broccoli, Bean and Leek Soup

This broccoli, bean and leek soup recipe is thick, creamy and healthy without the use of added dairy products.

Cauliflower Gold

The cauliflower gold recipe transforms this cruciferous vegetable into a delicious noshing item with toasted walnuts, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, chili powder and tomato paste.

Pesto Green Beans

This pesto green beans recipe makes pesto from parsley, spinach, basil, raw garlic, pecans, walnuts, and extra virgin olive oil. There is NO cheese, and instead of pasta, we serve it over fresh tiny cut blanched green beans. It tastes incredible!

Harissa Baked Salmon

This harissa baked salmon recipe is made for the What to Eat When Cookbook, co-Authored with Drs. Roizen and Crupain. I intentionally buy four pounds of fresh king salmon, so we have leftovers! My wife and I have it the first day right out of the oven, and then serve it cold over a raw massaged kale salad the next two days.  

Quinoa Ragout

Our quinoa ragout recipe is a patient favorite. It combines onions, garlic, broccoli, black beans, tomato sauce, spinach, arugula, and cooked quinoa in one pan.

MLT Sandwich

This MLT sandwich recipe is my version of a BLT made with Shitake mushrooms, arugula and tomato that uses Cashew-naise instead of mayo or vegenaise. Patients and especially Dr. Roizen love it.

Chocolate Chunk and Nut Chewies 

The chocolate chunk and nut chewie cookie recipe uses the raising reduction and is perfect when you need something sweet. They freeze great, contain no butter, eggs, or added sugars, and our four grandsons love them!

You can watch myself and Emeritus Chief Wellness Officer Dr. Michael Roizen cook many of these recipes on our In the Kitchen with Chef Jim and Dr. Mike Vimeo channel. All these recipes are a great way to eat healthy - and delicious foods - while boosting your immune system.

And our culinary team has put together a Culinary Medicine Toolkit document with cooking method tips, food safety, knife skills and plant-based protein and calcium sources – a good go to sheet for safe cooking. Visit for more resources from our Cleveland Clinic Wellness Culinary Medicine team and to learn more about culinary medicine consults.

Be Strong, Be Healthy, Be in Charge!
-Jim Perko Sr. CEC, AAC, Executive Chef for Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine
Department of Wellness and Preventive Medicine Appointments: 216-448-4325


About Jim Perko Sr. CEC, AAC

Chef Jim has been with the Cleveland Clinic for 39 years.  He has collaborated with physicians to develop the first evidence-based, technique-driven culinary medicine initiatives for the Cleveland Clinic.  He has developed culinary curricula for six patient programs and is the creator and provider of the first Cleveland Clinic Culinary Medicine patient consult to help patients execute prescribed nutritional plans.  He provides culinary medicine education for physicians, residents, medical students, nurses, patients, caregivers, community initiatives and he has partnered with Dr. Michael Roizen recording over 113 episodes of “In the Kitchen with Chef Jim and Dr. Mike”.  Jim has participated in studies on Cooking and Nutrition Education for Health among Adults with Diabetes, Lifestyle Education & Nutrition for senior citizens, teaching Culinary Medicine to Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine medical students, and presently to patients as part of a Brain Health Study.

Jim is a 1977 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park NY, was one of four apprentices to the American Culinary Federation (ACF) 1976 US Culinary Olympic Team and a member of the 1977/78 US Antarctic Expedition cooking for scientists in Antarctica.  Jim competed nationally to become a member of the ACF 1992 US Culinary Olympic Team winning five gold medals from the United States tryouts, and competitions in England, Ireland and with his teammates finished third out of 52 teams from 30 countries in the 1992 Culinary Olympics in Frankfurt, Germany.  He has been an ACF certified Judge for 26 years, recipient of the 1991 ACF National Chef and Child Award, 1991 ACF Cleveland Chapter Chef of The Year, 2002 and 2012 ACF Cleveland Educator of The Year and 2006 ACF National True Spirit Award along with numerous others.  He is the co-author with Michael F. Roizen. M.D., and Michael Crupain M.D., M.P.H., in the groundbreaking lifestyle guide What To Eat When Cookbook.

Learn first-hand from Chef Perko during a private Culinary Medicine appointment or shared medical appointment.

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