Flu Fighting Food
With cold and flu season fast approaching, you’re probably dreading rummaging through your medicine cabinet with its awful tasting cough syrup and odd smelling remedies that your grandmother swears by. But instead of torturing your taste buds to stay healthy, why not raid your fridge? The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, dubbed the father of medicine, had just that idea. “The wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings. Let food be your medicine.” You have the tools to steer clear of sneezing and sore throats in your own kitchen, and they’ve been under your runny nose this whole time.
Garlic is one flavor-packed ingredient I can’t seem to leave out of a recipe. It’s a natural immune booster that assists in multiplying infection-fighting white cells and increasing antibody production. These properties are largely due to its sulfur-containing compounds like allicin and sulfides. Garlic is one of many so-called “hot foods” that contains mucolytics, which liquefy mucus that builds up in the sinuses and breathing passages when you’re under the weather. Ancient Egyptians even considered garlic holy and used it as currency!
Your local supermarket may not be too keen on you paying in garlic cloves, but next time you’re there, be sure to add bell peppers, ginger, and broccoli to your shopping list. As a member of the nightshade family, bell peppers are packed with nutrients. They’re loaded with beta carotene and vitamin C. Surprisingly, they even have twice the vitamin C per gram of most vitamin C-containing fruits and vegetables. We need Vitamin C because it maintains the skin, which is the body’s guard against microbes and viruses.
The next item that should be on your shopping list is ginger. There’s nothing like the smell of freshly grated ginger root permeating your kitchen, so if you’re not a habitual ginger grater, you will be soon. Ginger actually makes you sweat more, so we can get rid of germs by sweating out toxins in our system. It also helps to settle your stomach, which is why we reach for a can of ginger ale when we’re sick.
Lastly, despite your less than fond memories of being forced to eat broccoli as a child, grab some before you hit the cash register. Your parents were on to something. Broccoli is a great source of vitamins A, C and E. It’s also high in glucosinolates, which stimulate the body’s immune system. On the downside, broccoli can cause gas and bloating problems, but lucky for us, this can be easily combated by eating it with garlic and ginger!
So with garlic, bell peppers, ginger, and garlic, I would go for an Asian – inspired dish. Here’s one of my recipes for noodles that I make at home all the time. It’s as quick and easy as noodle dishes get, so you can spend less time cooking and more time eating towards better health!
3 to 4 servings
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 pound spaghetti
1 red bell pepper, julienned
½ cup broccoli, fresh or defrosted
1 sprig scallions, chopped
5 tablespoons of the hot water (for a saucier consistency)
2 tablespoons (brown/white) sugar
Cook the pasta and set aside. In a saucepan, heat vegetable oil and a splash of sesame oil over medium-low heat. Add the scallions, ginger, garlic, and bell pepper. Cook and stir for a minute until soft. Then add the sugar, peanut butter, soy sauce, and hot water (from the pasta). Stir until the sugar dissolves and the peanut butter has a smooth consistency. Toss in broccoli and remaining spices, and cook through for one minute. Mix noodles with the sauce. Add more sesame oil to taste.
To wash all this down, why not have a cup of green tea? Green tea originated in China and is rich in polyphenols (plant antioxidants) and other chemicals to help fight off the cold or flu. Now, all you need is a fortune cookie to finish off the meal. Let’s hope it predicts good health for the coming season! Happy eating