By Rebecca Mullins, RHN
Preparing foods that contain the nutrients that build the immune system is the key to keeping your family healthy throughout the winter season.
Our immune system is our body’s defence mechanism designed to attack invaders, and it does an excellent job when it’s in good condition.
Our lymphatic system helps to maintain the immune system by filtering and draining waste fluids, so be sure to drink plenty of fresh, clean water daily.
Further support your internal systems by getting enough rest and sleep, and exercising regularly. Enjoy the fresh air and nature – and soak up the sunshine all year-round to increase vitamin D production.
Stock up your kitchen with the following, and you’ll be well-prepared for the season: cayenne, cinnamon, elderberries, garlic, gingerroot, lemons, onions, raw honey, and unfiltered apple cider vinegar
Cayenne stimulates all systems involved with blood flow and digestion.
Cinnamon increases blood flow and aids in releasing toxins.
Elderberries are antiviral, and well-known as a flu preventative and to alleviate flu symptoms.
Garlic is antiviral, antibacterial and antibiotic – great for upper respiratory issues, blood cleansing, maintaining healthy gut bacteria and much more. It can dissolve phlegm, especially in the throat and chest.
Gingerroot is great for chills, colds, fevers and an upset tummy. It’s good for circulatory problems, warming cold hands and feet.
Tip: Peel gingerroot easily with the tip of a spoon.
Lemons dissolve phlegm, and are excellent to use for both colds and flu.
Onions are the best vegetable for immune-building, warding off colds and flu and keeping us healthy. They aid digestion and flush out impurities.
Tip: Sliced onions placed in containers around the house, especially in the bedrooms, have the ability to absorb bacteria and viruses.
Raw Honey is antibacterial, antiseptic and antifungal. It is superb for colds because it tackles infections, dissolves phlegm, calms cough and soothes sore throats – local honey is best. Warning: Not for children younger than one year of age.
Unfiltered apple cider vinegar is naturally antiseptic and antifungal.
Oranges and Lemons and Ginger… Oh My!
- Juice of 2 oranges
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1 inch gingerroot, peeled and grated
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons raw honey
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Dash cayenne
Put first four ingredients in a pot. Bring to a boil; then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Strain into mugs. Stir in honey; sprinkle cinnamon and cayenne on top – serve immediately.
Drink three to four servings per day.
Black Elderberry Syrup
A flu preventative and for flu symptoms.
- ¾ cup black elderberries
- 3 tablespoons grated gingerroot
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 4 cups water
- 1½ cups raw honey
In large saucepan, combine all ingredients except honey. Bring to a boil; then simmer covered on low heat for 45 to 60 minutes. When reduced by about half, remove from heat. Allow to cool completely before pouring through a cheesecloth-lined strainer into a bowl, then wring out the remainder. Pour honey into reduction; mix well. Pour syrup into a glass jar; store in refrigerator.
Child’s dose: ½-1 teaspoon/Adult’s dose: ½ to 1 tablespoon.
Note: This is not as thick as store-bought syrups.
Make-Your-Own Oil of Oregano
Fresh oregano leaves | Olive oil | Note: Oregano to Oil 1:1 ratio
Place oregano in a plastic bag; cover bag with a dishtowel and pound with a meat mallet or hammer to release oils. Heat olive oil until just warm; put into bag with oregano; squeeze mixture for a minute or two. Pour mixture into a jar; place somewhere cool; dry for two weeks. Once ready, strain oregano from oil.
Did you know that avocado pits are jam-packed with nutrients that can provide many health benefits? In fact, the pits contain more nutrients than the avocado itself, as well as most other fruits, vegetables and herbs! They can strengthen your immune system and help protect you from colds and flu. Put pit into a plastic bag; break up with a meat mallet or hammer. Then put crushed pit into blender; grind into fine powder. Sprinkle onto any foods.
Rebecca Mullins RHN is a North Bay-based Registered Holistic Nutritionist.