Just Say No to the Swizine!

If there’s anything that screams last season, it’s a hospital mask and the oh-so-feminine fragrance
of eau de vom. Let’s discuss staying healthy for dummies, shall we?


*Garlic, which not only neutralizes many strains of bacteria, it also helps your bod get rid of heavy metal contamination and lowers cholesterol and blood pressure. Get over your fear of garlic breath and add it to omelets, stir-fries, and pasta dishes. Sautee a clove or two in a teaspoon of olive oil and drizzle it over steamed veggies!

*Cumin, an antimicrobial that adds a complex, mildly spicy flavour to hummus, scrambled tofu, ground beef or savory mashed sweet potatoes. Try it in Curry Bonanza! (Though the research I’m familiar with suggests that cumin’s antimicrobial properties are more effective on fungal and yeast cultures than bacteria, loading up on the yummy spice can’t hurt!)

*Broccoli, which is high in antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatory properties. Steamed broccoli makes the perfect addition to any meal; try something new and sprinkle your broc with salt, pepper and nutritional yeast.

*Mushrooms-particularly shiitake, which are packed with beta-glucans, a fungal property that kicks the immune system into superhero mode. Throw some chopped mushrooms into any salad or pasta dish or try them with spinach in an egg white omelet.

*Shrimp! The phytonutrient astaxanthin that gives shrimp its color stimulates the immune system and provides you with heightened protection from the harmful effects of UV rays (but don’t forget, you should still slather that pretty face with sunscreen all winter long!)


*Wheatgrass juice, a super-concentrated source of enzymes, vitamins and minerals, which acts as a natural energizer and cleanser of the lymph system. Juicing this badass plant requires special machinery, so most of us have to hit the coffee shop or smoothie stand to get our fix, shelling out several bucks a shot. The other downside is that the straight-up grass taste isn’t for everyone…but I love it! Mmm, lawn.

*Green tea, the goddess of the immune system. Start with a strong cup in the morning (I double-bag it) and guzzle a decaf version all day long. You can never have too much green tea!

*Creamsicle Juice, which combines your immune system’s BFFs, Vitamin C and ginger (which also settles an upset tummy.)

*and of course, Water. Aim for two liters a day, but stop drinking at least two hours before bedtime. If you get really thirsty pre-beddie bye, allow yourself just a sip.

AVOID (as always)…

*factory-farmed animal products. cruelty tastes yucky. hit up local farms and farmers markets whenever possible!
*tuna and other large fish, which can contain high levels of toxic heavy metals like mercury.
*processed foods, white flour, and sugar (indulge in small amounts, and use alternatives like raw honey whenever possible)

and finally

*Get plenty of sleep! At least 7 1/2 hours a night is optimal. Resolve to shave 30 minutes off your evening routine (turn the TV off! step away from the Facebook!) and turn in early, and your rested bod will thank you tomorrow!

* This should go without saying, but do like yo mama said and KEEP YOUR HANDS TO YOURSELF! Wash ’em frequently, regardless of whether you think you’ve touched anything germy. When my job required me to take a food safety course a couple of years ago, I learned this fun fact: getting your hands squeaky clean requires washing with warm water and plenty of soap while you sing TWO rounds of “happy birthday”. Fun times for everyone!

Tummy Taming Ginger Soda

When we were little, my brother and I were only allowed to drink soda to settle our stomachs when we were sick. Godless child that I was, my first prayer, circa age 4, went like this (direct quote, overheard by my mother): “Dear God, please let me throw up thirteen times in the night so I can drink Coke.”

Nowadays, having recovered from my childhood deprivation of soda (and white bread, fruit roll-ups, processed peanut butter and cereal with more than 8 grams of sugar) I’ve returned to my roots and only drink soda to settle an upset tummy. Though my mom claims that carbonation helps soothe a stomachache, it’s my opinion that sodas that do not contain real ginger are pretty useless in the tummy-settling department. This afternoon, feeling a little yucky and not up for a natural soda hunt, I decided to experiment with what I already had in my kitchen.

I always keep a little fresh ginger around; it’s great for Asian-inspired dishes (like Vegetable Fried Bulgar,) Creamsicle juice, and baking projects, among other things. To make this soda, I simply grated a one-inch piece of ginger (use a little less if you want a weaker flavor) into a glass and added a 500ml-bottle of sparkling mineral water. The orange slice I used as a garnish got me thinkin’, so I added the juice of one half of the orange for a nice vitamin C boost! You don’t have to consume all the ginger for it to have a soothing effect; the infusion will help on its own.

As a warm alternative to this fresh, cooling drink, try simmering a one-inch piece of ginger in 1 cup water for about five minutes, then drink as a tea.

Creamsicle Juice

If you buy a juicer and use it once to make a glass of this juice, it would totally be worth the investment (you’d also be crazy, but hey, I’m not here to judge.) When Santa delighted me with my new favourite appliance last Christmas, I totally went overboard, spending a fortune on produce and juicing everything I could get my hands on like a madwoman. Alas, the honeymoon couldn’t last; I’ve scaled down my fresh juice addiction to accommodate my budget by treating myself on the weekends.

Juicing extracts the fibery pulp from produce. Fiber is the part of fruits and vegetables that fills you up; because you’re not consuming the fiber, it’s easy to put away 4 or 5 servings of fruits or vegetables by drinking one glass of juice (you still have to eat whole fruits and veggies, though, or your heart and digestive tract will be very sad.) Your body can process the high concentration of nutrients in fresh juice very quickly because of the absence of fiber, so it’s kind of like freebasing vitamins-a perfect thing to do first thing in the morning; it’ll wake you right up and your body will be ready to start the day!

Orange fruits & veggies are high in vitamin C, so this is a great tonic to make if you feel a cold coming on. Ginger is a great tummy-settler and makes this juice taste amazing. If you’re very sensitive to sugar, this recipe might not be for you, as both carrots and oranges are pretty high in sugar. Low-sugar veggies like spinach help counteract the high content in other produce, so sugar-sensitive people might want to consider my other favourite juice concoction: 3 cored granny smith apples and 1/2 a 6-oz. bag of fresh spinach leaves. MMMM!

Ingredients (serves 2):
3 valencia oranges, peeled & halved
6-8 carrots, peeled, ends cut off
1-1/2″ piece fresh ginger, peeled

…juice it up, y’all!