Friday, February 20, 2009

Old Wife Tells Tale

Is it starve a cold, feed a fever or the other way around? Everyone has experienced their mother's remedy of chicken soup to cure the common cold. With drug counters filled with dozens of pharmaceuticals to make you feel better, sleep better and generally continue to run yourself ragged, is it any wonder that antibiotics are becoming less effective and we find ourselves sick for longer periods of time?

Perhaps there is something to the old wives tales. Good food and plenty of rest may be the cure for the common cold and oddly enough it doesn't cost much other than common sense. WebMD advocates eating good food to help the body fight infection and develop a stronger immune system making us more resistant to the infection in the first place. 

Their top recommendation for feeding the cold is to eat foods high in antioxidants. Unlike OTC medications, antioxidants are designed to help the body fight free radicals which ultimately tear down cells and deplete the immune system. Nothing tasty about an antioxidant pill but grab a bright orange carrot or juicy orange and feel the burn of those nasty free radicals. 

Foods rich in beta carotene rank high in antioxidants, so look for yellow vegetables and fruits to fill your pantry instead of the medicine cabinet. The problem with feeling sick is, you have no energy to cook for yourself and little appetite or strength to gnaw on a carrot or peel an orange. Unless you are into a macrobiotic diet, you probably aren't going to munch on raw broccoli or asparagus. And for the most part, colds are a product of the winter weather, meaning your choices for fresh peaches, nectarines, melons or apricots is probably slim to none. Here is where Mom's chicken soup comes in.

Soup is the most simple of all comfort foods. It nourishes the body and the soul. It provides nutrition and sustenance and it is simple to make. My advice is make soup all year round and freeze it. Then when the cold and flu season hit, you are armed and dangerous!

This is one of my favorite soup recipes. It is filled with nutrients that will scare off even the most radical of radicals and like the apple, might even keep the doctor at bay as well. Give it a try. All you have to lose is your cold. That's What A Wise Grandma Would Do.

Thai Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash
2T vegie oil
1 shallot diced or 1T diced onion
2 cloves of garlic pressed
1tsp freshly grated ginger
1tsp freshly grated lime zest
1tsp paprika, ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayene (optional but sure helps clear the sinuses)
1 1/2 sea salt
1T sugar
3c chicken broth
1 14 oz can coconut milk
1 - 2 T lime juice
splash of soy sauce
coarsely chopped cilantro (optional but why?)

Cut squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place on greased cookie sheet, cut side down. Bake in 400 degree oven until tender. Scoop out the roasted flesh and set aside for the soup.
Meanwhile heat oil in a soup pot over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add shallot, ginger, garlice, lime zest, coriander, paprika and cayene. Stir briskly until sizzling and fragrant.
Add salt sugar, broth, coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add squash and simmer for 15 minutes. Puree the soup with a hand blender or food processor. Add 1c of water if soup is too thick, then stir in lime juice, splash of soy sauce. Taste. 

This soup is bursting with a mix of salty, sweet and tart. Add more lime juice, salt or sugar if needed. Garnish with cilantro and be prepared to indulge your senses!

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