I was so sorry to hear (very late, I might add) that my long-lost friend Phoenix was ill last week. Winter's gray skies tend to put us all in a slightly dampened mood and it's also, unfortunately, a common time for sniffles and bleary eyes. A couple weeks ago, I, my boyfriend, my father, and my grandmother all came down with varying degrees of gloomy flu-fulness. Here's a couple things to try to lift your health and your spirit. [*Remember, if you're really feeling sick, go see a doctor. Drugs are good, sometimes. The following suggestions are things that will keep your fluid intake high (even medical doctors agree this is an important step in overcoming colds and flus), and also will hopefully give you an immune system boost.]
Lemon Chicken Soup
(*This recipe was adapted from Giada de Laurentiis's Food Network Recipe.)
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
.75 cup fresh lemon juice
1 dried bay leaf
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup whole wheat spaghetti, broken into two-inch pieces
2 cups diced, cooked rotisserie chicken
1 two-inch Parmesan cheese rind, optional (The rind is actually a very nice addition. You end up taking it out at the end, so it performs more like the bay leaf as a flavoring additive. But you don't have to use it if you don't want to.)
In a large stock pot, bring the chicken broth, lemon juice, bay leaf, and Parmesan rind (if using) to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and simmer until tender, about 5-8 minutes. Then add the broken pasta and cook until the pasta is tender (check the package instructions for the pasta you use, but it should take about 4-8 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add the diced chicken and heat through, about 3 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and the Parmesan rind, discarding both. Season with salt, to taste. Enjoy.
Why is it good for you?
We all know chicken soup is good for the soul. But did you know that's not just because it's warm and yummy to your tummy? Chicken contains an amino acid called cystaine that gets released when you cook it. This amino acid thins mucus in the lungs, aiding in the healing process. In addition, research has proven that chicken soup breaks up congestion, eases the flow of nasal secretions, and may even be responsible for inhibiting the white blood cells that trigger inflammatory responses (which in turn eases sore throats and the production of phlegm).
Lemons are a rich source of vitamin C, are a proven antiseptic, and a renowned anti-scorbutic (remedy preventing disease that assists in cleansing the system of impurities). Lemons also have noticeable levels of potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. They help to fix oxygen and calcium levels in the liver because they regulate blood carbohydrate levels which affect blood oxygen levels. Not to mention, they smell great - which, by the way, some folks say acts as a homeopathic healing element in and of itself. The smell of lemons tends to make people feel happy. Go figure. Maybe we know a good thing when we smell it.
2 tbsp grated ginger root
2 cups water
1 tbsp honey, optional
Boil the water in a small saucepan and stir in the ginger root. Drink straight, or add lemon and/or honey.
Why is it good for you?
One of the active ingredients in ginger is a compound called gingerols, which acts on a specific receptor in the body called the vallinoid receptor. The vallinoid receptor sits on pain nerve endings and normally react to pain and acidity. Yes, that's right. Ginger is a natural pain-reliever. Cool, right? And not only does it relieve pain, it also reduces inflammation. So while it dulls the 'ouch' sensation, it's actually healing you, too. Ginger also is known for reducing dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and cold sweating.
Have you noticed how a lot of cold remedies involve adding honey to teas? It's not just because it's sweet and tasty, and it's not because it coats your throat. Honey is actually anti-bacterial. The Bedouins in Israel have used it for - gosh, a really long while - in conjunction with other herbs on cuts and burns, because it helps to prevent bacterial infections. Why? Well, it contains an enzyme that produces hydrogen peroxide. I know, right? Freaky. Honey is also hygroscopic, which means it naturally absorbs moisture from the air - okay, that doesn't apply so much to cold symptoms, but it's cool, isn't it? Open wound? Smear some honey on it - it'll keep the area mostly free of bacteria and help prevent scarring by keeping the skin moist and encourage the growth of new tissues. Just avoid hungry bears...
Infusions to Try
Lemon Balm is an herb that promotes sweating and is traditionally considered to eliminate toxins from the body. You can get tea empty tea bags from lots of stores, including Teavana and, I think, Bed, Bath, and Beyond. They're useful to have around, if you like that rich flavorful quality that you really only get from loose teas. Simply take the herbs (fresh or dried), slip them in the tea bag or put them into a diffuser, and wait 2-3 minutes for delicious tea.
Catnip is another herb that promotes sweating, which can be very good when you're fighting off a feverish cold. Follow the same instructions as listed for Lemon Balm.
Wishing you a healthy, happy post holiday season. :)
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