Way back in Spain when Amelia was 1, Alfredo and I used to have a disagreement, it stemmed from my mother-in-laws concern that her grand-daughter would catch a cold if she came into contact with any out-door air. It went something like this:
Me: It’s a virus. It’s not air-born. You catch it from somebody.
A: Yes, but, you know. When you’re cold…….you can catch a cold more easily.
Me: (insistently) It’s a virus. It’s not air-born.
A: Yeah, but-
Me: It’s a virus!
Petty, I know.
I am pretty sure one reason colds and flu spread more easily in winter is because we are all indoors more with closed windows breathing each others air/germs. Or it may be that the extra energy required to keep us warm slightly compromises our immunity? I have no idea. If anyone has the scientific answer, I would be genuinely glad to know.
In any case, another thing that can work against us is that the pull for stodgy comfort foods is greater, and fruit and salads appeal less.There seems to be something harmonious and logical that in a colder climate, the earth brings forth denser starchier foods like pumpkins, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes etc Even winter greens are denser and more, well….wintery. Like winter kale crops, Brussel sprouts and other late brassicas. That’s all good. The problem is when the “comfort foods” are heavy fried foods, processed ready meals, chocolate, cakes, pasties, and pies.
Here are some ways to boost your anti-oxidant and vitamin intake in winter. Just my thoughts y’all, not trying to get all preachy, but I believe your body will be happier and stronger. You may still catch something, but you can get over it more quickly and painlessly if your immune system is stronger and more resilient.
- Go for UNREFINED carbohydrates like brown rice, quinoa, wholewheat couscous or brown rice pasta.
- Try for your plate to be 1/3 – 1/2 colourful veggies. Hello butternut squash!
- Beans and pulses are filling and very nutritious.
- Sugar is a tremendous immune suppressant. Look for alternatives especially when you feel something coming on. I have some ideas in my desserts section, which you may or may not fancy trying. You’re welcome.
- Drink plenty of water and herbal teas.
- EAT SOME RAW EVERY DAY. Yes, even when it’s cold. Here are some ideas.
-A fruit smoothie. Most supermarkets sell frozen mango/berries/mixed fruits quite affordably. I would highly recommend making them with real frozen fruit over bought smoothies, as the pre-made ones are pasteurised and you will get more vitamins in a home-made one. Though 100% fruit shop smoothies still trump Pepsi.
-A green smoothie. Add some raw green leaves to your fruit smoothie. Babyleaf spinach is almost tasteless. Have you drunk your greens today?
-Top your jacket potato with something raw. A crunchy salad is still delicious on a jacket potato in winter (I assume your house is warm inside, right?) Mash up some avocado and a pinch of salt for home-made guacamole (spring onions, bell pepper, chilli, lime juice etc) Even a coleslaw need not be swimming in mayo. Unroasted cashews make amazing mayo-type dressings. Follow this link.
-Make a raw salsa to go with your stew or curry. Like this one.
-Fruit that has been frozen and thawed takes on a cooked compote-like consistency. You can even gently warm them. Examples for your wholegrain pancakes/waffles: Thawed berry “compote”, or thawed frozen apple pieces, blitzed with cinnamon and unpasteurised honey.
-Top your wholegrain pasta with a raw sauce. My favourite is a blitzed avocado; add your favourite herbs and condiments such as basil, chopped chives, onion powder, garlic powder, lemon juice, nutritional yeast etc More ideas for healthsome pasta sauces here
-Buy yourself a juicer, it need not be expensive. Juicing need not be expensive either. Carrots are cheap as chips. But healthier.Carrot,apple and ginger juice with a touch of sparkling water? Yes please!
Enjoy the cold everyone. And do what you can to avoid the colds. Or at least, to nail them more quickly when they come.
P.S. This post is dedicated to flu-ridden Lindsay Burgess. Get well soon! 🙂