Welcome to winter, with her beautiful crisp mornings, cool days, the promise of great skiing and my personal favourite, big bowls of soup and steaming mugs of rich hot chocolate.
Winter also means, that around every corner people are coughing, sneezing and feeling pretty miserable.
We are all busy, living in the real world with high stress levels, less than 8 hours sleep, taking public transport and eating quick fix diets. It seems that getting at least one cold or flu every winter is inevitable, especially if you have children because they love to bring a home a vicious lurgy and share it around.
Prevention is far better than the cure so here are my top tips for staying healthy this winter:
- Wash your hands to avoid spreading germs, we all need reminding every now and then.
- Get at least 8 hours of good quality sleep every night, it’s true that an hour before midnight is worth two after. Aim to have at least 3 nights a week in bed before 10:30, go on give it a go.
- Reduce your sugar consumption! Sugar is an immune suppressant with the effects lasting up to five hours after consumption.
- Drink water or plain herbal teas, aim for around 2 litres a day
- Eat vegetables of all colours, the brighter the better as these colourful guys are full of anti-oxidants and vitamins.
- Consume good quality proteins such as fish, organic chicken, grass fed meat, eggs and nuts. Protein provides the building blocks for every cell in your body including those that fight infection.
- Increase consumption of infection fighting foods such as onions, garlic, ginger, chilli, turmeric and cinnamon.
- At the first sign of a sniffle make a big batch of flu bomb tea (recipe below) and have an early night– trust me this really works.
- Exercise, outdoors if possible, this not only helps you stay fit this winter but will improve mood and give you a great dose of immune boosting vitamin D from the sun.
- Include probiotic foods such as yoghurt, kefir, kim chi, sauerkraut and Kombucha in your diet. 70% of the body’s immune system is found in the gut so healthy gut bacteria is vital.
My two favourite immune boosting recipes are:
Flu Bomb Tea – make this in a big batch and store in the fridge ( I also recommend this for anyone who suffers from cold hands and feet as it is a great circulation booster)
- 5cm piece ginger
- 1 lemon – sliced
- 1 stick of cinnamon
- ½ tsp chilli flakes or small chilli chopped
- 1 clove garlic crushed – this releases the allium which is what does all the good.
- 500mls boiling water
- Honey to taste (but not too much due to sugar content)
- Bring the water to the boil and add all ingredients, except honey and allow to steep for 10 minutes- strain out the pieces add honey to taste and enjoy.
- Can also be made in a plunger.
Speedy Immune boosting chicken soup
Our grandmothers were right, nearly everything seems better after a steaming bowl of soup. This recipe is a favourite in my house. I make a huge pot of chicken stock every couple of weeks, then reduce it, till it becomes thick and gelatinous cause I only have a tiny freezer, then I add it to everything. If you don’t have homemade stock look for a brand with no nasties, cooked for as long as possible to extract maximum goodness. I like stock by Maggie Beer, Simon Johnson and Woolworths Gold.
- 1 tbsp oil of choice, I like olive oil, butter or coconut oil
- 1 leek, sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 stalks of celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 2cm piece ginger, grated
- 1 ltr chicken stock
- 1 chicken breast, thinly sliced
- ½ cup corn kernels
- 1 tomato diced
- 1 egg
- Spring onions – sliced
- Heat your oil in a heavy based pan, sweat leek, onion, carrot and celery for about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, ginger and chicken stock then bring to boil.
- Add the thinly sliced chicken breast and corn.
- Put lid on the pot and turn the heat off. Leave for 15 minutes, add tomato, a beaten egg and spring onions and serve.
- At the table add dash of soy and fresh chilli for extra spice if you feel like it.
Wishing you great health and happy cooking!
Do you have any immune boosting ideas to share? Please comment below.