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HEALTH & WELL BEING - January 2008

No Colds This Winter
by Kathy Hands, Moonflower manager,
and Molly McClish, master herbalist

Wintertime. For many of us, winter is a chance to spend more time with our family and friends, catch up on our reading, and experience our town and its beautiful surroundings without the tourist crowds common other times of the year.

Winter also holds some challenges for us; cold and flu season are in full force, our children are bringing home the latest bug from school, and oftentimes we overdo it during the holiday season. Not to mention the stress of money worries for the seasonally employed. Not enough sleep or too much overindulgence can leave us susceptible to illness.

There are simple ways to cope during the winter. Eat lots of green foods, eat your fruits (or drink them, if you are a juice lover), drink plenty of water. Keep the air in your house humidified; a pot of water on the stove works great for this. Put some dried thyme or eucalyptus leaves in the water; these herbs are good for your sinuses, and they smell wonderful as well.

Apple cider vinegar is another simple tonic you can use. We are more susceptible to colds and flu when the ph level in our body is out of whack. Taking apple cider vinegar can help keep your body’s PH in balance. It is also a great thing to use for stomach upset. Put 1-2 tsp of apple cider vinegar in 8 oz of water, or tea, and sweeten with honey.

Soups are a great winter indulgence; they help warm and hydrate our bodies. They are a wonderful way to get those vitamins and minerals out of your vegetables.

Add ginger, or cayenne, to your soup to help your circulation get moving, and help your sinuses stay clear

Astragalus root is a good herb for nourishing your body’s immune system. Put a couple slices of the dried root in that pot of soup you have simmering away on your stove; remove the root before serving. Shiitake mushrooms are also a great immune system booster, so toss those in as well; they also taste wonderful sautéed, and complement anything, not just soup.

Following is a simple recipe for hot and sour soup taken from “Secrets of Fat-Free Chinese Cooking” by Ying Chang Compestine:

Tofu Hot-and-Sour Soup

6 cups water
8 Shiitake mushrooms
8 ounces firm tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes
kale or collard greens, sliced
1 green onion, minced
1.5 TB rice vinegar
3 TB soy sauce
¼ tsp chili pepper flakes
2 TB cornstarch
1 tsp sesame oil
¼ tsp ground black pepper

1) Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Add the mushrooms, tofu, and greens. Boil for 2 minutes.
2) Reduce the heat to low and add the vinegar, soy sauce, and chili flakes. Dissolve the cornstarch in a little water and add it to the pot. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes while stirring occasionally. Stir in the sesame oil.
3) Garnish with green onion and black pepper before serving.

If you do succumb, drink plenty of fluids – coffee doesn’t count! – and get your rest. And Moonflower Market offers a large array of herbal supplements, for adults and children both, that can help ease discomfort and help you recover.

Stay well!

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