Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kitchen Recipes for the Fall: Food & Home Therapy for the Colds & Flu of Fall

By Karen Litton, L.Ac.

As the weather begins to get cooler, and the wind changes its nature and starts to feel more "invasive" to the body, it is important to protect ourselves through proper dress and foods. Making sure we are dressed for the weather is important. Wearing a scarf around the neck or protecting the head keeps that "wind" from invading our bodies.

In Chinese medicine, we call wind the Bearer of "100 diseases." It can help the cold to penetrate our bodies; and if our defenses are weak, we can begin to feel those early signs of an impending cold or flu.

An important part of our body's defenses comes from the food we eat. Eating nourishing squashes, hot cereals, and warming grains will help our defenses stay strong.

One way to cook grains that are easily digested is in the form of a "congee." It is a grain-based porridge that is very strengthening for the digestive system. It is cooked in a crock-pot or simmered over very low heat on the stove.

Any number of grains can be used: rice, millet, quinoa, barley, spelt, etc. You can also add sweet potatoes or squashes, various nuts, spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and the flavorings of molasses, honey, rice milk or maple syrup.

You can get creative!

Suggested Congee Grain Combinations:

1 part grain (1/4 cup)
5 parts water (1 and ¼ cup)
Combine in crock-pot & cook on low overnight
(8 hours)
The proportions of grain and water can be adjusted so that you get the consistency you want.

Another way to be prepared for when that "wind" carries some cold or flu past your defenses, is to have on hand at home a remedy for when you first start to feel those signs that you may be "coming down" with something: runny nose, achiness, slight headache, maybe slight chills or a very mild fever.

Directions for the Early Stages of a Cold:

One of the earliest ways to treat these symptoms at home is to brew some tea using spring onions, or scallions, and prepared (fermented) soybeans, which can be bought at your local health food store.

Use 2-5 stalks of the onion with 12 - 30 grams (about a ¼ cup) of the soybeans. Brew for no longer than 10 minutes and drink up to 6 cups a day.

To increase the effect of this "tea" helping to drive the cold back out of the body, lie down and cover yourself with a blanket to induce sweating. Be sure to get plenty of rest and replenish your fluids through drinking enough plain water and herbal teas.

If you are not feeling better, come see us! In the meantime, keep yourself healthy through your food choices and having on hand at home a response to those initial cold symptoms.