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FOOD WISE: Say shoo to the flu!

Toasted Coconut Trail Mix Bites
Toasted Coconut Trail Mix Bites - Contributed

By Ellen Greenan

Flu season is almost upon us, and if you’re one of the one billion influenza cases that occur each year, you may be looking at a rough road to recovery. While most cases last seven to 10 days, the flu can drag on for up to two full weeks.

It takes a lot of work for our bodies to fight the flu, so getting the nutrients we need is important. Eating well is key for giving you and your family the nutrients your body needs during cold and flu season. While making healthy food choices is a good idea all year, you may want to think about certain foods now, as we head into flu season, in order to ensure your body gets the particular nutrients it needs to help keep the flu at bay (or recover from it).

Antioxidants are compounds found naturally in food that help to protect our cells. Vitamin C, vitamin A and vitamin E work as antioxidants in foods and are important for overall immune health. Not only are citrus fruits a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A, they’re naturally delicious so they are a great option for adding antioxidants to your diet. Some other antioxidant-rich fruits include strawberries, plums, cherries, blueberries and kiwi. Remember, if fresh fruit is not an option, try frozen – it is just as nutritious as fresh, and is delicious in smoothies, on top of yogurt or cereal. Vitamin E can be found in a variety foods containing healthy fats such as nuts and seeds, nut butters, avocado and some types of fish, including salmon, mackerel, halibut and tuna.

Protein and zinc both aid in supporting immune function and are found in legumes such as lentils and chickpeas. Protein is an essential part of the body’s defense mechanism as it helps to build and repair body tissues. Zinc is a mineral that can help to reduce some of your cold symptoms. Other great sources of zinc and protein include unsalted pumpkin seeds, seafood, beef and baked beans.

Probiotic foods like kefir and probiotic yogurt contain bacteria, which may control immune function. Eating foods that contain probiotics is preferred to taking a probiotic supplement because then you also get the other nutrients in the food, like protein and calcium.

Many B vitamins act as helpers in our cells and support healthy function of our metabolism. There are eight B vitamins, and because our body does not store these, it’s important to eat food with B vitamins often. Try to eat a variety of foods from all of the food groups to replenish your B vitamins. Good options to include are leafy greens, whole grains and winter squashes, just to name a few.

Whip up a batch of these Toasted Coconut Trail Mix Bites to keep in the fridge for a quick and satisfying grab-and-go snack. Packed with nutrients, this recipe is sure to help keep your immune system strong during the colder months when the flu bug is circulating.

For more information on flu prevention and recovery, stop by the store to talk with me or our in-store pharmacists anytime! And remember to get your flu shot – it is the single most important way you can reduce your chance of getting the flu (you can even get your shot when you come in to do your grocery shopping).

Toasted Coconut Trail Mix Bites

½ cup (125 mL) Medjool dates, pitted
2 tbsp (25 mL) PC Blue Menu Just Almonds Smooth Almond Butter
1 tbsp (15 mL) PC 100% Pure Light Maple Syrup
½ tsp (2 mL) pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) PC Blue Menu Trail Mix
2 tbsp (25 mL) PC Blue Menu Ancient Grains and Super Seeds Blend
½ cup (125 mL) PC Crispy Rice Cereal
¼ cup (50 mL) dried apricots, roughly chopped
1/4 cup (50 mL) PC The Decadent Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
2 Tbsp (25 mL) unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted


1. Pulse dates, almond butter, maple syrup, vanilla and salt in food processor until smooth, stopping to scrape down bowl if necessary.

2. Add trail mix and seeds blend; pulse until coarsely chopped. Add cereal, apricots and chocolate chips; pulse until combined.

3. Transfer to large bowl; mix with moistened hands if necessary to combine. Roll by heaping 1 tbsp into balls; roll into coconut to coat. Arrange in single layer on large plate or baking sheet. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes.

Makes about 20 pieces

Per serving (1 piece): 100 calories, fat 5 g (1 g of which is saturated), sodium 45 mg, carbohydrate 12 g, fibre 2 g, sugars 7 g, protein 2 g

Recipe Source:

Ellen Greenan is a Registered Dietitian with Atlantic Superstore in New Glasgow.

Have a nutrition question? Want to book an appointment or shop with the dietitian? Book online at www.atlanticsuperstore/dietitians or contact me by phone at 902-921-0700 or by email at

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