Chicken soup for colds, flu and allergy season!

I love to make this soup whenever I feel a chill in the air or I am starting to feel that I am in need of some TLC. It is warm grounding medicine in a bowl. The chicken soup has healing herbs and spices to nourish your immunity to keep you healthy or support your healing if you are feeling under the weather.

If you are looking for information on some cold and flu remedies, please check out this post.

4-6 chicken thighs bone in with skin removed

Who doesn’t love an aromatic bowl of hot soup?

1 medium onion chopped

2 medium leeks chopped and thoroughly rinsed to remove all sand and grit

2-3 carrots chopped

2 stalks celery chopped

1 red pepper chopped

About 2” piece of fresh ginger finely minced

About 4 cloves of fresh garlic finely minced

6-8 sliced shiitake mushrooms

1 bunch each of Italian parsley, cilantro and dill (chopped including the stems!)

1-2 roasted hatch green chile chopped (it’s a New Mexico thing that is hard to replicate with any other type of chile pepper. You may be able to find canned hatch green chile in your market)

1 small to medium zucchini or yellow squash

4 bay leaves

6 slices of dried Astragulus root

1 Tbs turmeric

1 tsp coriander

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp cardamom

1 tsp fennel

6 whole black pepper corns

6 Sichuan pepper corns

4+ star anise

Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Tea kettle of boiling water

Preheat heavy bottomed stock pot over medium heat. Coat inside bottom of pot with olive oil. Add chopped onions and a pinch of salt. Stir and allow to cook until onions are translucent. Add leeks and another pinch of salt, stir and continue to cook until leeks start to wilt. Add chopped carrots, onions, celery, red bell pepper, another pinch of salt and allow to sauté for a few minutes. Add chopped garlic, ginger and shiitake mushrooms. Give a stir and allow to cook for another couple of minutes. Add bay leaves and other herbs stir to coat the vegetable mixture and now add a tea kettle of boiling water. Place chicken pieces in stock and add parsley, cilantro, dill, hatch green chile and zucchini. Give the pot a good stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to simmer and put lid on pot and cook for about 30-45 minutes. Pull chicken from pot, allow to cool enough to handle so you can shred or chop and return to pot. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking.

Note: remove bay leaves and Astragulus before serving.

Enjoy!

Mighty Mushroom Barley Soup

I love to make this soup on a chilly winter’s day or when I feel like I may be coming down with a cold. It has many immune boosting properties without over taxing your digestion so your body can combat whatever pathogens have entered your system, be it colds, flu or even allergies.

The spices used in this recipe do not just impart flavor, they have medicinal properties as well! 

Rosemary – tonic, stimulant, anti-depressant, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, astringent, anti-oxidant, diuretic. Caraway – carminative, expectorant. Cumin – diuretic, febrifuge, alterative. Onion and leek – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory. Fresh garlic – antibiotic, diaphoretic, expectorant, antioxidant, increases circulation, strengthens immunity. Shitake mushrooms – immune stimulant. Astragulus – adaptogen, immune stimulant, diuretic, antiviral tonic. Bay Leaves – bronchodilator. Turmeric – antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-viral, diuretic, hepatoprotective, immune stimulant. Black Pepper – antipyretic, decongestant, mild pain killer, anti-bacterial, antiseptic, detoxifying, diaphoretic. Barley – cooling thermal nature, light, diuretic.

Ingredients:

1 TBS Rosemary

1 TBS Caraway seeds

1 TBS Cumin seeds

Olive Oil

2 large onions chopped

9 large cloves of garlic chopped

2-3 cups of mushrooms, I used a combination of Shitake and white button mushrooms

6 pieces of Astragulus root

2 Bay leaves

2 tsp Turmeric powder

1 cup of Pearl Barley – rinsed and drained

50 oz. of boiling stock or boiling water

Salt & Pepper

Preparation:

Heat a heavy bottom stock pot over medium heat and gently toast the rosemary, caraway and cumin seeds. Once you begin to smell the spices releasing their fragrant oils, add just olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pot. Add chopped onions and a little salt to help the onions sweat out their liquid. Give a stir and cook until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and cook for about two minutes. Add the mushrooms and a little salt and fresh ground pepper and give everything a stir. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottoms of the pot. Add barley, bay leaves and turmeric powder ensuring that everything is well mixed together. Add stock or water and bring everything to a boil, reduce heat and cover with lid. Cook for about an hour or until the barley is cooked through. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Remove bay leaves and Astragulus before serving.

Bon Appetite & Be Well!

Dharma

“What is your Dharma?” What gifts do you have to serve humanity?

Dharma – moral values, purpose of this lifetime. To most, we would consider this to be our career and achieving higher social status / recognition. We were put onto this earth with certain gifts or talents that we should use in our role in this life time to make the world a better place while fulfilling our soul.

Recently I read The Five Dharma Types: Vedic Wisdom for Discovering Your Purpose and Destiny by Simon Chokoisky that was very interesting.

There are five Dharma archetypes – Warrior, Educator, Merchant, Laborer and Outsider.

Which archetype are you and how will you use it to make your world better?

Colds, Flu – Ah Choooo!!!

Ut Oh!!! You feel it coming on. You are tired, irritable and then your body feels achy and your throat is scratchy…………….NOOOOOO!!!! There is no time to be sick, I have too many things that I need to do!!!!!

We have all been there. We ignore our body’s subtle signs until you have to listen and provide it some love or else you are going down and will be forced to rest.

Winter seems to be the worst. We spend too many hours indoors and not enough time in nature. Our heating system dries out our mucus membranes. There are holiday parties with foods that do not support our digestive system and air travel to spend time with family. All of these things weaken our immune system and unless you are doing something to nourish yourself and support your immune system you will catch a bug.

NIP IT IN THE BUD

When I have over-extended myself and I feel that I am getting achy or a scratchy throat, I up my vitamin C, add zinc and an echinacea tincture. I make myself some freshly sliced ginger tea with a little drizzle of raw local honey and make the time to get more rest and sleep. Usually that in itself will stop me from getting a fully blown cold.  

Usually during this time of year I also make sure that I take a shot of fire cider every day. There are a lot of recipes out there and you can easily make your own and it will keep for a long time as long as you do not add honey until you are going to use it. It is helpful in maintaining your immunity and can help lessen the severity of any cold that you may catch. There are some great brands that you can find in your local herbal shop, just read the ingredients.

To help soothe my dry nasal passage, I like to use nasaya which is an Ayurvedic nasal therapy of special medicated oils used to clear the sinuses.

I am not one to use hand sanitizer, but during the winter when everyone around is feeling unwell, I take advantage of the wipes at the grocery store on my shopping cart handle and keep a little bottle of hand sanitizer in my bag and use whenever I cannot wash my hands with warm soapy water.

Don’t rub your eyes or touch your face with your dirty hands! It is so easy for those pesky germs to get into your body through your eyes, nose and mouth!

Get outside and take a walk, expand your lungs fully to breathe in some fresh clean air!

CONGESTION AND COUGH

When I get congested I will put a few drops of Eucalyptus essential oil on a washcloth on my shower floor and inhale. Rosemary essential oil works equally well to open the bronchi. A word of caution: do not put essential oils directly on the floor of your tub or shower as this will create a slippery floor and could lead to a fall.

Fresh pineapple has bromelain which is really good at breaking up congestion and drinking fresh pineapple juice also can help with cough.

SLOW COOKED, SOUPY, STEWY FOODS

I will give my body a break so it doesn’t have to work hard to digest food. Simple broths and soups with nourishing herbs and spices are all I need to help me heal. To keep from getting more congested stay away from creamy soups made with dairy.

Generally when we are sick, we don’t have too much of an appetite. It is our body’s way to divert our internal energy to fighting those germs and get them out. We just need to pay attention to ensure that we do no dehydrate ourselves so we can flush those toxins out of our system.

Author’s immune boosting chicken soup (recipe)

When I feel that I might be getting sick, I love to make myself a lovely pot of chicken soup (AKA Jewish penicillin). There is something comforting about it and the herbs and spices add an additional punch to help my body rebuild immunity.  

You may also want to peruse my blog for allergy season as colds and allergies should be treated similarly. Both are due to unwanted pathogens in your body.

SOME HERBS TRADITIONALLY USED TO HELP WITH COLDS AND BUILD IMMUNITY

Here are some of my favorite herbs with their healing properties for colds that are good to keep on hand in your kitchen apothecary.

Fresh ginger – analgesic, anti-asthmatic, antiseptic, antispasmodic, circulatory stimulant, diaphoretic, inhibits coughing.

Fresh garlic – antibiotic, diaphoretic, expectorant, antioxidant, increases circulation, strengthens immunity.

Onion and leek – antioxidant, anti-inflammatory.

Shitake mushrooms – immune stimulant.

Bay Leaves – bronchodilator.

Turmeric – antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-viral, diuretic, hepatoprotective, immune stimulant.

Coriander / Cilantro – digestive, laxative, appetite stimulant, alterative, diuretic, diaphoretic, antioxidant, febrifuge, refrigerant.

Cumin – diuretic, febrifuge, alterative.

Cardamom – antiemetic, expectorant, diuretic, analgesic, expectorant.

Fennel seed– mild expectorant, analgesic.

Black Pepper – antipyretic, decongestant, mild pain killer, anti-bacterial, antiseptic, detoxifying, diaphoretic.

Fresh Parsley – anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, diuretic.

Thyme -antiseptic, antibacterial, expectorant, anti-oxidant, antibiotic, antifungal, anti-tussive, anti-inflammatory.

Astragulus – adaptogen, immune stimulant, diuretic, antiviral tonic.

Cinnamon – alterative, antiseptic, antiviral, diaphoretic, anti-inflammatory, improves circulation.

Peppermint – analgesic, diaphoretic, antiseptic, expectorant.

Clove – antiseptic, refrigerant, analgesic.

Cayenne Pepper – diaphoretic, expectorant, muscle pain reliever, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory

Red or Green Chile – a staple here in New Mexico that most people have in their freezers. Loaded with Vitamin C it also acts as an analgesic, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, diaphoretic, expectorant, circulatory stimulant.

I hope that you found value in what you have learned to help you and your family to lessen the severity of any colds and keep your immunity up! Be well!

Resolutions

Why do we make New Year’s resolutions? Why don’t we make our resolutions as we celebrate our birthdays? It would be a more accurate new year for oneself than January 1.

New Year’s resolutions began over 4000 years ago with the Babylonians who held the first recorded celebrations to honor the new year —though their celebrations coincided with crop planting in the spring. Promises were made to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. If promises were kept, they would have good fortune and an abundant crop. (source: https://www.history.com/news/the-history-of-new-years-resolutions)

This year, New Year’s day falls on a Wednesday. If you follow astrology, Mercury rules not only Wednesday but is the ruler of our rational mind and speech. It is a good day for you to take action on those things that you have been thinking about adding into your life.

As I look back on this past year I may not have checked off all of my goals, but it was an amazing year learning and stretching outside of my comfort zone to be a stronger and more centered being.

Sunset in Albuquerque NM

As we end 2019, reflect on what has gone great this past year. Don’t beat yourself up over what wasn’t accomplished. The universe has a plan for you and maybe it is just not quite the time to achieve it. Keep working on yourself. Be kind to beings regardless of their views, religion, ethnicity or situation. Stretch and get out in nature every day. Try to find at least one thing that you are grateful every day and write it down on little pieces of paper, put it into a jar and in a year look back at all of those wonderful things.

The Breakfast Experiment

Recently I tried a little breakfast experiment to see how I would react to the same ingredients prepared two different ways.

Ingredients: 1 banana, handful of blueberries, 3 dates, about ¼ cup of walnuts, about a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, about ½ tablespoon of chia seeds and a generous drizzle of honey.

The first preparation was a smoothie. So yummy and creamy that I unconsciously slurped that deliciousness up! Shortly thereafter, I noticed that my belly felt cold and heavy. Definitely had an affect on my digestive fire and I didn’t feel quite right for the rest of the day.

The second preparation was to take the same ingredients, cut them up and arrange into a bowl. First I admired the various colors of the ingredients and with each spoonful I felt every texture and tasted each ingredient on my tongue as I chewed and swallowed. Equally as tasty as the smoothie was, but the experience was much more satisfying and my digestive system was not stressed and I was full of energy for my morning activities.

From this experiment I learned that if I want to have a smoothie for breakfast, I need to add warm spices such as cinnamon or dried ginger to not put out the digestive fire (agni) in my stomach!

They say that we not only eat with our mouths, but with all of our senses. Take time to enjoy your food – look at it, smell it, taste it, feel the textures, listen to the crunches.  

Experiment to see what you enjoy and works best for your digestion. Do you feel cold and sluggish or energized and vibrant?

DETOX, CLEANSE, FAST

Detox: a process or period of time in which one abstains from or rids the body of toxic or unhealthy substances; detoxification.

Cleanse: a process or period of time during which a person attempts to rid the body of substances regarded as toxic or unhealthy, typically by consuming only water or other liquids.

Fast: abstain from all or some kinds of food or drink, especially as a religious observance.

Photo credit: Pexels.com

There are so many compelling arguments in the media that we need to detox. We are all loaded with toxins that need to get out of our bodies and by not cleansing we are setting ourselves up to get a disease.

There is some truth to this. We live in a polluted environment and are bombarded with all sorts of chemicals from the soap that we use to clean our bodies and clothes, air fresheners, candles and incense to make our homes smell better, the fumes from the vehicles that are on the roadways. The list goes on and on, without including media and other outside stimuli that our nervous system would benefit a detox from.

If you consciously prepare and cook a healthy diet that is appropriate for your constitution, don’t eat too much, pay attention to eating seasonally and have a daily bowel movement there isn’t a need to go through a detox or cleanse. 

Seasonal eating is our natural way of detoxing. For example after a winter of eating heavy and hearty foods to warm you on those cold days, the bitter greens of spring, such as dandelion greens, are a wonderful way to help lighten up the body and help detoxify our blood.

If you are someone whose diet consists of the drive thru fast foods and other quick processed meals, a detox or cleanse could be your first step to taking back your health and resetting your body.

By paying attention to what we put into our mouths and listen to the signals that our body gives us for what we consume, we can learn what does and doesn’t work for us.  If something makes us feel tired or bloaty after eating it, our body probably cannot properly digest it. Start keeping a food journal and note how you feel while you eating and how you feel afterward. You can begin to notice patterns of what makes you feel energized and ready to conquer the world.

If you have spent your summer holiday indulging in too many rich calorie dense foods and now you feel a bit bloated, you might need a little resetting.

There is no need to buy into any expensive diet plans if you can develop an understanding of basic nutrition.  Learn how to properly nourish your body and create a meal plan that will be easy for you to follow so that you can stop following fads of random dieting to reduce belly bloat and other digestive issues. If you don’t treat the root of your digestive distress, it won’t matter how many detoxes, cleanses, fasts or colonics you subject your body to you will never completely eliminate the toxins and your body will remain in a state of distress.   

Be gentle, kind and loving to your body. It is your home for this lifetime.

Greens – Greens – Greens!

Dark leafy greens, cabbages, broccoli, kale, dandelion greens, chard, spinach, mustard greens, collards, watercress, arugula just to name a few of the most popular.

These beautiful vegetables are packed with vitamin A, C, E and K, contain lots of fiber to help promote healthy intestinal flora, contain folic acid, chlorophyll and phyto-nutrients. So many benefits including blood purification and boosting immune function!

But can eating too much hurt you?

Spinach, chard and beet greens all have high levels of oxalic acid which depletes calcium from the bones and teeth. Eating large quantities can lead to osteoporosis. Kale contains goitrogens and can interfere with thyroid function. Large quantities are contra indicated for anyone with iodine deficiency. Kale also contains oxalate which can cause kidney stones. Spinach as mentioned above contain oxalate which may cause kidney stones and also contains purines, which if you have gout, consume in moderation. Broccoli also contains goitrogens and are reduced through the cooking process. If you have thyroid condition, you might want to consider reducing your consumption of raw cabbage family vegetables. 

If your diet consists mainly of green juices or eating many cups a day of these green raw  vegetables, maybe it may be time to re-evaluate this diet as you may be giving yourself thallium poisoning. Symptoms include: fatigue, brain fog, digestive troubles, nausea, and skin and hair issues. You may just think that you are cleansing your body of toxins and that is why you are feeling crappy. Actually your body is telling you to STOP! You are poisoning me!

But by cooking these vegetables it would be very hard to cause yourself harm, especially if you are eating a diet that is diverse and colorful. How many colors of the rainbow can you get onto your plate every day? Anytime a mono diet is introduced for an extended period of time there can be consequences to one’s health.

As with everything that we do, moderation is key and a meal serving size should be no more than two cups of cooked or raw food.

What to Eat?

We are living in the age of designer diets. There are diets for every ill and every belief. I have yet to meet one person on a designer diet who, before commencing that new diet, had eaten a high-quality, balanced diet of traditional foods. ~ Steve Gagné, Food Energetics.

We are bombarded with different diet recommendations that lead us to believe that it will be beneficial for everyone. We are all unique beings and with this each of us has a unique constitution and requires different nutrients to thrive.

Some people do well as vegans or vegetarians. Others must eat meat to feel grounded and nourished. You just need to listen to what your body tells you, there is no perfect diet for everyone and we should not judge a person on their food choices. Just make sure that your diet is made up of whole unprocessed foods.

I do not do well with dairy. It is something that has been an issue my whole life. I can tolerate a small amount in a cup of chai, but give me a bowl of cereal with milk or an ice-cream sundae and I will feel the effects very shortly, starting with the rumbling in my belly, increased phlegm in my mouth and congestion like I am coming down with a head cold. This feeling lasts for about a day or until my body has eliminated the dairy from my system.

Whatever dietary choice that you make, please make sure that it is balanced and you are eating real foods and not food like substances. Shop the perimeter of your grocery store focusing on good quality organic fruits, vegetables, free range grass fed beef, pasture raised chicken and eggs. Limit your shopping on the isles with boxed foodstuffs that are packed full of ingredients that you cannot pronounce. Experiment with different grains and dried beans from the bulk bins. Try new fresh herbs as well as spices to bring new flavors to your meals.

Maybe you were lucky enough to have grown up with parents or grandparents who had a garden and grew some if not all of their own food. Remember that connection and time spent in the kitchen preparing the food that was harvested fresh from the garden. This food was clean and organic before those terms were hip and current buzzwords.

If you find that you have indigestion after eating your meal. Check in with yourself. Were you distracted or rushed and not chew your food well? Was there a new food introduced during the meal? Are eating vegetables or other fibrous foods new to you? Become a food detective to see how your body reacts to what you eat.

I find my clients who see me for indigestion have a weakened digestive fire. Here are a few recommendations that help rebuild that digestive fire (Agni) in your stomach. Reduce your caffeine consumption and replace it with a ginger tea that is made from taking a few slices of fresh ginger and steeping in boiling water for several minutes. 

Ginger is one of my favorite herbs that I use as a tea as well as part of my cooking. It is a powerful helper for digestive issues such as nausea, diarrhea, dispelling gas from the gastrointestinal tract and don’t forget that ginger pickle to stimulate your appetite.

Eat simpler foods that are easier to digest such as a slow cooked soup that you can even puree so your body can more readily absorb the nutrients. Use spices that help build up your digestive fire.

If you have been on antibiotics for a long time, you need to re-establish the good bacteria in the gut. Try adding fermented foods to your diet such as sauerkraut, kimchee, miso, plain yogurt or kefir to help rebuild that gut bacteria. This should only be done once you have completed your antibiotics and your infection has cleared up.

Take time to see what your body likes. If eating whole foods is new, allow yourself time to adjust how whole vegetables and grains fill you up. Soon you will be able to see what type of foods energize you to help you return to vibrant health.