The countdown is on for spring in Australia and we’ve started getting some beautifully sunny days 🙂 but the effects of winter are still affecting many. I recently spent a few days camping (crazy I know) with my husband and experienced nights of minus 3 degrees. As a result my husband came down with a bad cold and while I’ve been feeling great, I can tell that my immune system is hard at work making sure that I don’t get it. As a result of hubby’s cold and my determination not to catch it, we’ve been ramping up the consumption of some natural remedies. On the menu has been
Lots of vegetables: Hubby has been having kale and mushrooms with his bacon and eggs for breakfast and his lunches have been grilled chicken with steamed veggies and potatoes or leftovers from dinner. For myself I love having sauerkraut (probiotics for the win) with my eggs for breakfast and usually some type of vegetable soup for lunch. Dinner is usually meat (slow cooked stew, curry, roast, mince) with a variety of vegetables. One of my tricks is to add lots of diced pumpkin to my slow cooker stews or curries, by the time I get home from work the pumpkin is falling apart and I just roughly mash it with a fork to thicken the sauce.
Vitamin C foods: this goes hand in hand with the above point because lots of leafy green vegetables (kale, rocket, broccoli) are high in vitamin C but the following fruits are also great sources of vitamin C; strawberries, kiwi fruit, oranges, lemons, grapefruit and rock melon. You can read all about the benefits of starting your day with lemon water here.
Bone broth (or stock): the base that I use for my soups is water and homemade bone broth. Remember when your mum or grandma used to give you chicken soup when you were sick? Well turns out she was onto a good thing. Homemade broth is high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, glucosamine and gelatin (which on a side note also strengthens hair and nails). Not only does it taste great and keeps you warm but it’s so easy and cheap to make yourself (I make a big batch and freeze in portions).If you choose to buy commercially, avoid the powdered stocks which are full of salt, sugar and little to no nutritional benefit and instead choose an organic free-range liquid stock.
Turmeric: Hubby started adding more turmeric to his diet to reduce inflammation from an injury and apparently turmeric is also great for your immune system. Some benefits of turmeric include being a natural liver detoxifier, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and pain killer, in addition to helping heal skin conditions, such as psoriasis, and wounds. We were mixing turmeric powder with water and drinking it in concentrated form as a shot but more recently I’ve been making a hot tea by simmering half water half almond milk in a saucepan and adding turmeric and a bit of honey. It’s also a key ingredient in my clean chicken schnitzel (I’ll post a recipe when I make it next, if it doesn’t get devoured immediately).
Ginger: we upped our consumption of ginger sort of by accident. Note to self, when you ask your husband to pick up a small piece of ginger from the shops it pays to specify exactly how much. Instead of the inch of ginger I was expecting, he bought a piece about 8 inches long by 4 inches wide. Needless to say I’ve bottled plenty of ginger kombucha, made kim chi, ginger tea and have been adding it to stir fries.
Garlic: not only does garlic have the tendency to repel people if we eat too much but it also repels bad bugs; and if you feel a cold coming on then you should avoid getting too close to others anyway. Add it to your meals, salad dressings, soups, stir fries and curries. If you’re worried about garlic breath, keep a sprig of parsley or mint nearby to chew on and neutralise the odour.
Drink plenty of water (coffee and black tea don’t count): it’s easy to get dehydrated in winter as it is but when we are sick we tend to lose a lot of fluid (gastro, vomiting, sweating, etc.). If you struggle to drink plain water in winter, flavour it with a squeeze of lemon, a couple of mint leaves or a slice of ginger. You can also do what I do and keep a 1 L thermos of hot water at your desk and drink lemon water, herbal and green tea throughout the day. I then re-fill the thermos 2 or 3 times… yes that means I do have to pee a lot (over share) but it’s a good excuse to get away from the desk.
Rest: I can’t believe I nearly forgot to add this one, maybe because it’s not ‘food’ related however it is equally, if not more important. Try to go to bed early and aim for 8 hours sleep per night, much less and our immune system weakens and we become more susceptible to catching the next virus that goes around. If you do feel a cold or flu coming on, scale back any intense activities that you have planned and give your body the opportunity to rest.
Stay warm and healthy,