By now, we have all been informed on how to

defend ourselves against the corona virus,

but it never hurts to fine-tune our immune system, so in addition to a good defensive strategy, we can have an even better offense. One way to do this is to thin mucus and phlegm production, and even though it makes you think, yuck, mucus plays a vital role in your immune and respiratory systems because it coats the inner surfaces of your body like a protective blanket.  It is important for mucus to be kept thin so it doesn’t pool in your head and give bacteria a place to breed, and decreases the chance of it moving from your gut to your chest where it can lead to congestion.

Kimberly Knauf holds a Masters in Clinical Nutrition and Biochemistry from the University of Cincinnati. Kimberly also holds a B.S. in Pre-Med, and also is comprehensive secondary education. She has been conducting nutritional consultations and workshops for 20 years, and has been a Personal Training and Group Exercise Instructor for 34 years.

The following actions can help eliminate excess mucus and phlegm :

Increase the humidity in your home: Steaming does decrease the production of mucus and cool-mist humidifiers are safe to run all day or night.

Stay hydrated with warm drinks: One of my favorite warm drinks is to sip on bone broth. The vitamins, nutrients, and minerals offer tremendous health benefits and keep your intestinal track happy. Warm lemon water is another great mucus-thinning beverage with the added bonus of vitamin C and soluble fiber from the lemon.

Add anti-mucus foods to your diet: Certain fruits, vegetables, and spices rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients, along with anti-inflammatory foods can boost your immunity, improve your ability to heal, and keep mucus secretions thin. Berries, Citrus Fruit, Cantaloupe, Kiwi, Tomatoes, Leafy Greens, Bell Pepper, Radishes, Cayenne, Hot Mustard, Garlic, Salmon, Tuna, Trout, Sardines, Flounder, Olive Oil, Flaxseeds, Walnuts, and Pumpkin seeds are all foods that fit the bill for this.

Gargle with saltwater: Gargling with salt water eases sore throat pain and loosens thick mucus.  Gargling with Celtic sea salt or Himalayan salt also provides you with a dose of immune-boosting minerals.

Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is an ancient treatment for coughs and excess mucus. It can be applied directly to your chest or add eucalyptus oil to a diffuser or warm bath. I like to enjoy a cup of Eucalyptus tea.

Creative ways to use pantry staples during quarantine:

With the right recipes and a bit of creativity, you can turn staples such as rice, pasta, frozen vegetables, and beans into weeks of flavorful, satisfying, and nutritious meals. 

Dried or canned beans including black, cannellini, red, and pinto are all great to have on hand.  It is easy to combine cheese, garlic, tomato paste, cannellini beans, olive oil in a casserole and pair with some crusty bread and a salad.  Beans are also a great protein and fiber source to add to any soup or stew with broth and vegetables. Lentils and chickpeas are also great to add to stews and stir fries with coconut and turmeric for some added anti-inflammatory benefits. They can also be added to pasta sauce, blended into hummus, or enjoyed as a side dish or salad topping. Stews and curries can provide warmth and comfort on cold winter days, but that doesn’t mean you have to give them up just because it’s spring. These dishes build flavor over time and are typically very affordable, making them perfect projects for when you have a lot of time but not a lot of money or access to fresh produce like in times as this.

If you’re someone who enjoys eggs, you probably don’t have to be reminded how great they are. They can be hard boiled, fried, poached, scrambled, steamed, and turned into a wide variety of dishes that aren’t just for breakfast.  Egg frittatas or crustless quiches are excellent as a quick, healthy, customizable, no fuss meal. My favorite is to add spinach, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, basil and other spices, mushrooms and a little feta with some almond milk.  Throw into a baking dish at 350 for 30 minutes.  Pasta dishes can be jazzed up by adding vegetables such as spinach, arugula, beans, shrimp, or frozen calamari for protein.

Quick ways to add frozen vegetables to your diet :

Quesadillas: Load frozen veggies or leftover cooked ones with a low-fat cheese and black beans and whole grain tortilla for a quick healthy vegetarian dinner. Add hot sauce, salsa, sour cream, or guacamole as a topping.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Spinach & Cheese:  Stuff chicken breasts with frozen spinach, broccoli, cream cheese, or mozzarella for a simple-yet-fancy dinner that will provide variety with boneless chicken breasts.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie: Shepherd’s pie is the ultimate way to use up any frozen veggies you might have stashed in the freezer.  I like using ground turkey, mashed cauliflower in place of potatoes, and frozen broccoli or green beans. Layer and bake it.

Chicken Fried Rice: An easy way to use up any frozen veggie is to throw it into a quick fried rice.  You can add whatever vegetables you have; you can also use frozen, cooked rice (or cauliflower rice) to reduce carbohydrates.

Two nourishing immune-boosting recipes:

Warming Beef Vegetable Soup to help thin mucus and phlegm

  • 4 teaspoons ghee or coconut oil, divided
  • 1 pound sirloin or beef stew meat, cut into 1.5 -inch cubes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1⁄2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 2 cups white potatoes, diced
  • 6 cups bone broth
  • 1 14- to 15-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1⁄2 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 2 sprigs marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 cup zucchini

Directions:  Heat 2 teaspoons ghee or coconut oil on medium heat in a large stockpot. When the oil is warm, add the beef and sauté for about 5 minutes until beef is browned. Remove from pan. Add remaining ghee or coconut oil, garlic, and onion and cook for 3 to 5minutes until garlic is fragrant and onions look translucent. Do not brown garlic. Add carrots, celery, and optionally potatoes, and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes.

Add bone broth, tomatoes, parsley, bay leaf, thyme, marjoram, salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Allow soup to simmer for about 50 minutes. Add the green beans and zucchini and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.

Instant Pot Chicken with Leeks and Mushrooms

Here is another easy quick recipe with staples you might have on hand. The delicate flavor and texture of leeks combined with the earthiness of mushrooms turn ordinary chicken breasts into creamy deliciousness. Pressure cooking makes for fast preparation and seals in all the juices and flavors.

Prep time: 15 mins • Cook time: 10 mins • Yield: 6 servings


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon Celtic or Pink Himalayan salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 3 pounds medium leeks, white and pale green parts only, sliced into circles
  • ½ cup chicken bone broth
  • 1¼ pounds cremini or button mushrooms fresh or frozen.
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot
  • ½ cup unsweetened almond milk (not vanilla)
  • Scallions or fresh parsley to garnish, optional

Directions: Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper. Set your Instant Pot/pressure cooker to the sauté setting*, heat butter/ghee and brown chicken on both sides.  Remove chicken from cooker and transfer to a plate. Add broth to cooker and deglaze by boiling on sauté setting or on high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits, until reduced to about 2 tablespoons, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in broth, leeks and mushrooms.

Top leeks and mushrooms with chicken breasts and juices from plate. Using your cooker’s instructions, bring the cooker up to full pressure. Reduce heat to low, maintaining full pressure, and cook for 8 minutes.  Allow to naturally release for 4 minutes, then release any remaining pressure using the quick release method. Transfer chicken to a plate. Stir arrowroot into almond milk and add to Instant Pot returning to sauté setting or on high heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve chicken on top of leeks and mushrooms.

Note:  If your electric pressure cooker does not have sauté setting, sauté ingredients on the stove top. If you are using a non-electric pressure cooker that you use on the stove top, you can sauté in the same pot.