Make these gummies to help boost kids’ immune systems

Immune Boost Gummies are made with elderberries, ginger root, turmeric and peppercorns. CONTRIBUTED BY DR. DEE
Immune Boost Gummies are made with elderberries, ginger root, turmeric and peppercorns. CONTRIBUTED BY DR. DEE

Denise Pickett-Bernard, also known as “Dr. Dee,” is in the business of “using culinary medicine to help people reverse disease, optimize health, halt aging and flourish.”

Pickett-Bernard, who has a Ph.D, is an adjunct associate professor and functional nutrition liaison at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where she teaches in the master’s degree program.

But, she also has a private practice, Dr. Dee Nutrition, in Roswell, where she lives with her husband.

“Usually the people who end up in my office are people who have exhausted their options,” Pickett-Bernard said, “or they’re somehow sick of their options, so they want to use food as medicine. My art of expertise is functional culinary medicine. It’s all food-based protocols, and people see lots of success.”

Pickett-Bernard attended the Culinary Institute of America, and is a registered dietitian, so much of her professional and personal life revolves around cooking and testing recipes.

“I have always cooked every day,” she said. “Interestingly, though, since COVID, we’ve been going out more, because we’re trying to support local restaurants with takeout. So, there’s some irony there. But, I cook all the time, and I develop recipes with very specific goals in mind. I’ve always felt that healthy food and delicious food should not be mutually exclusive.”

In search of food to help her clients, Pickett-Bernard said she often turns to international cultures and cuisines, and modifies those recipes for home cooks.

“Some get all the hype, like Mediterranean, but if you go to any international cuisine, there are aspects that can be really healthy,” she said. “For example, Asian cuisine is going to have a lot of ginger and garlic. Indian cuisine is going to have a lot of turmeric and garlic and ginger, all of which are very powerful anti-inflammatories. And, rather than just making a smoothie or something, you can eat real food.”

Immune Boost Gummies is a recipe Pickett-Bernard created for moms who want to give their kids something fun to help boost their immune systems.

It’s made with elderberries, fresh ginger and turmeric, and raw honey, and the gummies can be molded in a variety of shapes, or simply cut into squares.

“Boosting the immune system is something that needs to be happening all the time, not just when you get sick,” Pickett-Bernard said. “And, each ingredient in the gummies recipe has a reason for being in there, as an anti-inflammatory.”

In response to COVID-19, Pickett-Bernard is offering a free course, Food As Medicine, 10 Simple Steps:

Denise Pickett-Bernard is a functional food, nutrition and culinary consultant. CONTRIBUTED BY DR. DEE
Denise Pickett-Bernard is a functional food, nutrition and culinary consultant. CONTRIBUTED BY DR. DEE

Immune Boost Gummies

Foods that boost the immune system are packed into these tasty gummies, useful for children or adults. This preparation is plant-based, easy to make, and lasts for up to two weeks in an airtight container.

Immune Boost Gummies
  • 2 cups fresh or 1 cup dried elderberries
  • 2 pieces fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 3 pieces fresh turmeric, thinly sliced
  • 10-15 black peppercorns
  • 6 tablespoons grass-fed gelatin
  • ¼ cup raw honey, preferably local or Manuka
  • 2 cups filtered water or bottled water, if filtered is unavailable
  • Slightly bruise the roots and peppercorns to release their potency during cooking.
  • Pour water into a large saucepan.
  • Add the elderberries, ginger root, turmeric and peppercorns.
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer about 20 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep in the covered saucepan for about 30 minutes, or until cool enough to handle.
  • Strain the mixture into a bowl with a fine mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Squeeze out all liquid. If you don’t have cheesecloth, press the mixture against the strainer with the back of a spoon.
  • You should have 2 cups of liquid. If you come up short, add some more water or fresh citrus juice.
  • Pour the liquid back into the pan and turn the heat up to simmer.
  • Sprinkle the gelatin into the pan. It can clump easily, so do this slowly, and be sure to stir it in.
  • Stir in the honey and cool to room temperature.
  • To set, pour all the liquid into a parchment lined pan, drop teaspoonfuls onto parchment, or use silicone molds.
  • Allow to set in the refrigerator for a few hours, then cut into squares or remove from molds. Makes 2 cups or 96 1 teaspoon servings

Nutritional information

Per serving: Per serving: 7 calories (percent of calories from fat, 2), trace protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, trace fiber, trace fat (no saturated fat), no cholesterol, 1 milligram sodium.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your cooking? Have less frequent shopping trips taught you a lesson in resourcefulness? Did you prepare a recipe that reminded you of a loved one? Send your story and recipe to


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