After a few days of Spring-like weather, we are back in the deep freeze! Stay warm and eat well to keep your body limber.
Listed below are some quick and easy ideas to provide your body with an important nutrient boost throughout this cold season, all while giving your everyday foods and drinks more flavour and texture. They are particularly beneficial at the onset of a cold or once a cold has hit. So go ahead, chop, grate, squeeze, grind or whatever you need to do to get these into your food sand drinks.
Staple foods to have on hand
Raw honey – Use for a cough (raw for maximum health benefits, as pasteurization kills therapeutic qualities). Honey is anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and helps with elimination. Add it to warm lemon water for a cough or simply take 1/2-2 tsp before bed. Note: Raw honey can be toxic for children under 24 months.
Lemon – Use for colds, flu, coughs and parasitic infections. Lemon also helps digestion, mineral absorption and is antiseptic and antimicrobial. Plus it contains Vitamin C.
Ginger – Use for colds, flu, throat and lung congestion. It has many medicinal properties which include boosting circulation, anti-inflammation and destroying many intestinal parasites. For more on ginger’s medicinal benefits.
Garlic – Use for the onset of a cold. Garlic is antibacterial and antiviral and has many other anti type therapeutic qualities. Peel, cut and let it sit for 10 minutes to liberate its therapeutic qualities. Eat whole, or chop further and use it as a seasoning. If the taste is too strong, consider buying it in tablet form. For more on garlic’s therapeutic uses and contraindications
Black pepper – For the onset of a cold. Pepper stimulates the warming flow of energy in the body and helps you sweat by opening the pores. The hot/pungent flavour benefits the lungs and helps protect against simple viral infections such as colds and flu. Use several times a day when you have a cold. Add it to your foods and teas!1
Other spices – The kind used in slow-cooked foods, roasts and winter baking are loaded with nutrients and anti-oxidants. Think cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, star anise, nutmeg, ginger….some of these spices have anti-oxidant levels that dwarf the mighty berries. Because nutrient profile differs from one spice to another, variety is always good. Masala chai anyone?
Italian Herbs – are among the most prevalent herbs in treating colds. Think sage, basil, oregano, thyme. They’ll add great flavour and support your digestion. They are also restorative and warming.
Want inspiration? Here’s a useful reference for some herb & spice food combinations.
Buy organic herbs and spices for maximum therapeutic effects. This I understand to be a guarantee against irradiation, a process which destroys many nutritive properties.
Morning Elixir– Restores balance and re-hydrates the body on waking. Combine 1 cup hot water, 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, honey, to taste. If your body feels stiff and your mind cloudy when you wake-up, substitute ¼ tsp turmeric for the honey.2
Honey-Thyme Cough Syrup – 3 ingredients (honey, thyme, water) + about 10 minutes = a syrup that will last several months in the fridge. Click on the link for details.
Lemon-Honey-Thyme Syrup – same as above + lemon and a little more prep time. Lasts about one month in the fridge. Click on the link for details.
Immune Boosting Tea – The claim: you will not get sick this winter if you drink this every day. In any case, the mix of spices is healing, the smell of warming spices in the kitchen is wonderful – plus it tastes delicious. How to:
- Combine 3 liters of water, 6 slices fresh, peeled, ginger root, 1 Tbsp crushed green cardamom, 5 cinnamon sticks, 1 tsp whole black pepper, 1 tsp whole cloves. Simmer covered for 1.5 hours.
- Add 1-3Tbsp honey to 1 cup of hot or cold water to sweeten, if you wish.
It keeps for weeks in the fridge and is a strong concentrate; dilute to taste.(unfortunately, the author of this recipe is unknown to me).
- Don’t abuse a good thing – play with a wide variety of superfoods, which will allow your body to get all kinds of good nutrition over time.
- Check that there are no contraindications, with any over the counter/prescription drugs you might be taking, if you are pregnant or nursing and/or have a medical condition.
- If you are taking supplements, it’s always a good idea to take one day/week off.
1 Pitchford, P. Healing with Whole Foods, Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition. North Atlantic Books: Berkley, California, Print.
2 Wood, R. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia (1999). Penguin Compass: New York, New York, Print.