8 natural immunity boosters to get you through cold and flu season

February 2, 2017 by  
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Even if you get your flu shot , wash your hands religiously, and try to steer clear of people at home or in the office who are hacking and sneezing, fighting against all the germs and illnesses that seem to proliferate in winter is an uphill battle. While we can’t promise these seven natural immunity boosters will keep you from needing to take a single sick day this winter, incorporating them into your life may improve your chances of a less severe sickness, a quicker recovery time, and even avoiding “catching” a bug in the first place. Some of them (such as getting enough sleep, exercising, and eating foods rich in vitamins and minerals) are pretty obviously the basic building blocks of a healthy lifestyle, but its always good to have a little reminder how to stay healhty. Hit the jump to find out how to boost your immune system nature’s way. Image © flickr user planetchopstick 1. Rest up and get some sleep We all know this one, but its easier said than done, right? Instead of fighting long nights with blue screens, Netflix binges, and snacks, try to make an early (or earlier) bedtime a priority. Sleeping does more than feel good: it gives your body a chance to repair itself on a cellular level. Numerous studies have shown that being sleep-deprived makes you more likely to get colds; long-term sleep deprivation may be linked with more serious illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Many of us are pretty exhausted , but if going to sleep is challenging, experiment with a few of the following suggestions: Dim the lights and turn off electronic devices about an hour before bed. Give yourself time to digest before heading to Snoozetown. Falling asleep on a full stomach can be difficult so try to make your last meal or snack a few hours before bedtime. Smell your way to sleep. Dab a bit of lavender essential oil on your pressure points (including wrists and behind the ears) to help your mind relax. 2. Whip up some Golden Milk Golden Milk , a creamy turmeric-spiked drink that has recently been added to menus on coffee and tea shops in the United States, has its origins in Ayurveda. Turmeric ’s active ingredient is curcumin, which has been touted as being anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-fungal. You’ll love this drink as a warm and soothing alternative to coffee or tea any time of the day, but we especially adore it when winding down at night. Choose your favorite non-dairy milk as the base; try cashew, which has sleep-inducing and regulating tryptophan. Another healthy turmeric-tinged drink: make a “tea” by mixing lemon juice, slices of ginger, turmeric, and a little liquid sweetener (such as honey) with warm water. Image via Pixabay 3. Eat a vegetable rainbow Incorporating a wide array of veggies and veggie colors is recommended for most healthful and nourishing diets, but it’s especially important for boosting immunity. Vitamins such as C and A have been studied for their ability to fight off illness, so add plenty of dark leafy greens, citrus fruits, and carrots, squash, and sweet potatoes . Actually eating your vitamins in whole veggie form is preferable to supplementing with often unregulated pills and capsules. Selenium, a mineral found in garlic, broccoli, and brazil nuts , also has been touted as an immune system booster. Image © Pixabay 4. Find some magical mushrooms The fungus kingdom is notoriously defensive against bacteria and viruses – after all, it was funguses (specifically the Penicillium mold) which lead to the development of modern day antibiotics. Many funguses produce chemicals that kill viruses and bacteria. Some funguses are believe to have anti-cancer and anti-tumor properties as well. Mushrooms, especially Asian varieties such as shiitake, enoki, and maitake , contain natural anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties including the immune-boosting chemical beta-glucan . Plus, they’re delicious can be added to virtually any meal — breakfast, lunch or dinner. Always make sure you fully cook mushrooms for optimal nutrition and so that you can digest them properly! Image © Aris Setya via Shutterstock 5. Feed your gut flora Speaking of funguses, having a healthy ecosystem of good gut bacteria and fungi is critical for immune health. Did you know that 70-80% of your immune tissue is located in your digestive tract? Traditional foods from a variety of cultures are plentiful sources of probiotics (aka beneficial bacteria) that can feed your gut flora. Cultured yogurts and kefirs, tempeh, sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha , and more provide diverse belly flora, which may help lower levels of inflammation in your gut and boost your immune system. Probiotics are often found in fermented foods; the fermenting process promotes the growth of millions of microorganisms that help break down food. In addition to potentially helping to ward off some illnesses before they attack, probiotics are also used to help replenish the gut microbiome after a course of antibiotics. 6. Sip hot soup A version of Grandma’s healing chicken soup can be found in almost any family lineage, and doctors have figured out that the power of this soup is more than just the nostalgia factor. Soups can deliver easily digestible and nourishing nutrients and keep you hydrated. When you have a cold or sore throat, the steam and humidity of soup can help clear clogged nasal passages as well. Vegetarians and vegans can make up their own version of no-chicken soup or whip up a quick and healthful miso soup instead. 7. Get your blood flowing Exercise and immune function have a slightly contentious relationship: exercising too strenuously has actually been linked with a suppressed immune function, but the benefits of moderate exercise outweigh the potential negatives so don’t throw in the (gym) towel: exercising moderately through brisk walks, cycling, pilates, yoga , dance class, or lifting at the gym can give you an immunity boost. Moving, however it suits you, gets blood circulating, may help flush out bacteria and viruses, lowers stress levels, and helps you sleep better. If you exercise outdoors you can also get the benefit of fresh air and soak in a little Vitamin D from the sun, another key element to a healthy immune system. 8. Get some sunshine Vitamin D is produced naturally in your body when your skin is exposed to UV radiation from the sun. Vitamin D acts more like a hormone than a vitamin, and is thought to play a role in regulating the immune system. It is found in relatively few food products, but it can be found in fortified milk products and mushrooms. Many people have low levels of Vitamin D, so its always helpful to get outside for a 30 minute walk in the sunshine to boost your immune system. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is hard in the winter to get enough Vitamin D from the sun alone, so it’s a good idea to drink a Vitamin-D fortified beverage or take a supplement (and/or eat lots of mushrooms!). Image via Shutterstock 8. Herbs and supplements While most of our recommendations can be found in whole foods or through making healthy lifestyle choices, a few potentially powerful immune boosters are best when taken in supplement form, whether as tinctures, capsules, or even as part of a tea. Taking vitamin C and zinc capsules regularly or at the first sign of a cold can work wonders for the immune system. Some herbal remedies have found their way into the mainstream market, including echinacea, astragalus, ginseng, elderberry and reishi mushrooms and can be purchased separately. Visiting a professional, such as a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner who has knowledge of and expertise in prescribing an array of herbs and medicinal roots, may be your best bet for getting the appropriate dosage and most effective combo. While you are there, consider having an acupuncture treatment, which has also been associated with boosting immune function. Lead image via Shutterstock

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8 natural immunity boosters to get you through cold and flu season

10 Unexpected new recipes that feature delicious winter vegetables

November 12, 2016 by  
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For many people, the idea of eating seasonally is a brilliant idea. That is until the colder months roll along. After all, there’s a spectacular amount of produce available to be played with from early spring to mid autumn, but once Halloween passes, the culinary palette seems to be comprised of a few scant offerings. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Root vegetables, brassicas, winter greens, and hard-fleshed fruit can be fabulous when paired the right way. Below are a few ideas for using seasonal produce to its greatest potential. Cabbage and Ramen Noodle Salad This salad may sound a bit weird, but the flavors all combine gorgeously into a fun, crunchy autumn/winter dish. 1 head of napa cabbage, shredded finely 1 bunch of green onions, sliced 2 tablespoons butter or margarine 1 package of ramen noodles, broken up into small pieces 1 cup slivered almonds 1/4 cup cider vinegar 3/4 cup vegetable oil 2-3 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari Blend the cabbage and green onions in a large bowl, and refrigerate until ready to serve. In a large skillet, melt the butter or margarine on medium-high heat, and toss in the ramen noodles and almonds. Use a spatula to turn this mixture often, and remove your pan from the heat once the majority of it has been browned. Set aside. For the dressing, heat the vinegar, oil, sugar, and soy sauce in a small pot on medium-high heat. Allow it to boil for about a minute, then set aside to allow it to cool for a bit. Combine the cabbage and ramen-nut mixture with a set of salad tongs, and mix the dressing into it just before serving so it doesn’t get soggy. Root Veggie Chips Take a quick jaunt over to Amy’s Cooking Adventures for an incredible tutorial on how to make perfect root vegetable chips . These are great alternatives to chips for scooping up your favorite dips, and if you use veggies like watermelon radish, heirloom carrots, and a bunch of different beets, you’ll have a veritable rainbow of snacks to nibble. I like to spice mine up with cumin, paprika, garlic powder, and onion salt, but they’re delightful plain as well. Stems and Roots Slaw You can use whatever root vegetables you have in the house for this, and adapt it to your own tastes. I like to add in grated apple on occasion, or switch out the lemon juice with orange instead. Sometimes I’ll even throw in toasted nuts and dried cranberries. Be creative! 2 carrots (different colors, if available), julienned 1 bulb fennel, shredded 2 radishes (if you can get 2 different colors, all the better), grated or julienned 1 golden beet, grated 2 broccoli stems, peeled and julienned 1/2 small celeriac root , peeled and julienned 1/2 red onion, peeled and sliced thinly 1 cup plain yogurt (dairy or soy) 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 1 tablespoon lemon juice Salt and pepper Combine all the shredded vegetables into a large bowl. Blend the yogurt , lemon juice, and mustard together and pour over the vegetables, tossing the lot to combine it. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for 30 minutes before serving. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes Now, this isn’t so much a recipe as a basic idea that you can add to with whatever suits your own whims. I usually use one sweet potato per person eating, and fill with a variety of different bits, depending on what I have in the house. Preheat your oven to 400 F. Poke a few holes in your sweet potatoes , and bake for 1 hour or until soft and tender. You can also cook your potatoes in the microwave for 10 to 15 minutes or until soft, but since I haven’t had a microwave in over a decade, I can’t vouch for this method. When the sweet potatoes are cooked,  slice a piece off the top lengthwise, and scoop out the flesh so you have a nice big bowl to fill up. At this point, I generally use a bit of what I’ve scooped out as part of the filling that’ll go back in (the rest goes into soups and such). I like to create a spicy, smoky black bean veggie chili, into which I pop some of the sweet potato and a bit of cooked quinoa. That gets ladled into the potato shells, topped with cubed avocado, corn salsa, and a dollop of plain yogurt. Tuscan Kale and White Bean Soup This is a great warming dish for a chilly day, and it’s packed with iron and protein. 2 tablespoons olive oil 1 cup yellow onion, diced 4 large garlic cloves, chopped coarsely 4 cups vegetable or onion broth/stock 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped finely 4 cups chopped kale 1 large can Italian-style diced tomatoes 1 tablespoon tomato paste Salt, pepper 2 large carrots, peeled and diced 1 large can of white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (use white kidney beans if cannellinis aren’t available) Sautee the onion in the olive oil until it softens, and then add in the garlic. Cook for an additional minute or so, but don’t allow the garlic to brown. All all remaining ingredients except the beans, cover with a lid, and cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Add in the beans, stir thoroughly, and season with the salt and pepper to taste. I generally deglaze the onions with a bit of wine before adding in the veggies, and I tend to add a kick of spice with some cayenne pepper and smoked paprika, but do what you like to make this soup your own. Squash and Winter Greens Salad I don’t have a recipe for this per se, as it depends on many variables, so feel free to adapt it however you like. To make this, I grab an acorn or delicata squash, slice it into half-moons, remove the peel, drizzle it with olive oil and salt, and roast it at 425 F for about 20 minutes, or until it’s browning and fork-tender. Set that aside to cool. In a large bowl, mix together whichever winter greens you like best (I like spinach, sliced endives, and arugula that I’ve grown on my windowsill, but massaged kale works well too), nuts of your choice (try sunflower seeds or walnut pieces), and any other produce you think would work well in here. I’m fond of adding sliced of pears, but if you prefer a salad that’s less sweet, you can use halved cooked fingerling potatoes, shredded beets, etc. For the dressing, whisk together a simple vinaigrette with a couple of tablespoons each of lemon juice and vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup. Toss the greens together and top with the squash. If you’re not vegan, feel free to add some crumbled feta or chèvre on top for a lovely, creamy note. Roasted Purple Potato and Beet Tarte Tatin This gorgeous, gluten-free dish is as delicious as it is colorful. It’s perfect for a special occasion brunch, or even a light supper with a side salad and bowl of soup. The recipe can be found on the Canelle etVanille website, and is absolutely worth trying out as soon as you can. Sweet and Sour Cauliflower Say that out loud a couple of times and just try to stop yourself from smiling. This is fabulous with rice, or even on its own as an appetizer or light lunch. 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal 2 tablespoons water 1/3 cup water 1/3 cup corn starch 1/4 cup flour 1 teaspoon oil Oil for frying Mix all of the ingredients together and let sit for a few minutes to form a batter. Its consistency should be that of a thick pancake batter, but if you feel that it’s too gummy, add a bit more water. Heat approximately 1/2 a cup of oil in a large skillet until it spits when a water droplet is flicked at it. Dip each cauliflower floret into to batter, and then fry in the oil until browned and crispy. Drain on some paper towels or newspaper. For the sauce: 4 garlic cloves, minced 5 or 6 green onions, sliced thinly 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 tablespoon sesame oil 2 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari 2 tablespoons white or rice vinegar The zest and juice of 1 orange 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar 1 teaspoon corn starch Saute garlic in a bit of oil for a minute or so, then add the green onions, and both the orange zest and juice. Cook for another minute or so, and then add in the rest of the ingredients. Whisk this together as it comes to a boil, and then remove it from the heat. Toss your cauliflower nuggets into this sauce, ensure that they’re coated well, and then serve immediately. Perfect Brussels Sprouts Most people cringe at the thought of eating these mini brassicas, but they’re one of my all-time favourite veggies. The key is to roast them in order to bring out their natural sweetness. 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts 3 tablespoons olive oil 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon black pepper Preheat your oven to 400 F. Use a sharp knife to cut the stem ends off the Brussels sprouts, and be sure to remove any loose or yellowed outer leaves. Cut the larger sprouts in half lengthwise, and then toss the lot in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Pour these into a shallow baking dish or baking pan and roast for about 40 minutes, until the outsides are crunchy and the insides are slurpy-soft. Sprinkle with a bit more salt (if desired) and serve hot. Pear, Fig, and Goat Cheese Pizza A vegan version of this can be created by using a sour cashew “cheese” in lieu of chèvre.   1 lb pizza dough 1/4 to 1/3 cup fig jam 1 large bosc pear, sliced thinly 1/3 cup goat cheese (soft chevre), or soft cashew cheese Additional cheese (dairy or vegan) of your choice. (I like to dot this pizza with bits of gorgonzola, but it’s also lovely with fontina, gruyere, or even mozzarella Daiya shreds) Slices of prosciutto (if you eat meat and happen to like it) Preheat oven to 450 F. Oil a round cookie sheet, and then place a couple of pieces of parchment onto it. Oil that too. Soften the fig jam by placing the jar in warm water for 5-10 minutes, and then spread the jam over the crust, leaving a 1-inch border, since it’ll ooze as it warms up. Top with pear slices, and crumble the goat cheese around fairly evenly. If you’re using prosciutto, now’s the time to lay it on, and then sprinkle with any remaining cheese, if desired. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges of the crust are brown, and the cheese is bubbly. Shake the pizza free from the sheet onto a wire cooling rack, let it sit until it’s less likely to burn your face off from the inside, then place upon a large cutting board, slice up, and serve. All images via  Shutterstock

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Here are some resources to help promote kindness and tolerance after an upsetting election

November 12, 2016 by  
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No matter who you voted for, this election was a tough one, and in the aftermath, there has been a lot of violence, anger and frustration. If you are still reeling, check out these resources that can help you find peace and positivity and begin the process of healing.

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Here are some resources to help promote kindness and tolerance after an upsetting election

10 Unexpected New Recipes That Feature Yummy Winter Vegetables

November 6, 2013 by  
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For many people, the idea of eating seasonally is a brilliant idea. That is until the colder months roll along. After all, there’s a spectacular amount of produce available to be played with from early spring to mid autumn, but once Halloween passes, the culinary palette seems to be comprised of a few scant offerings. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Root vegetables, brassicas, winter greens, and hard-fleshed fruit can be fabulous when paired the right way. Below are a few ideas for using seasonal produce to its greatest potential. Read the rest of 10 Unexpected New Recipes That Feature Yummy Winter Vegetables Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: autumn , autumn vegetables , beans , beets , carrots , eating seasonally , eating with the seasons , fall , fall cooking , fall vegetables , kale , parsnip , roots , salads , soup , squash , vegan , vegetables , vegetarian , veggies , winter        

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Warm Up With This Seasonal Sweet Potato, Squash, Fennel & Carrot Soup!

October 27, 2013 by  
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Is the weather getting chilly where you are? When the leaves start to fall, we love to make warming soups and stews that feature seasonal ingredients. Sweet potatoes, squash, and carrots are all hitting their peak this time of year, which means they should be plentiful and relatively affordable, whether at the store or farmers’ market.  This soup recipe also offers a secret, sweetening ingredient (apple juice), which makes it especially kid-friendly while still being healthy and packed full of veggies. Follow our easy how-to guide to mixing up this delicious, warm meal tonight! READ ON> Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: DIY , fall , food , Inhabitots , recipe , recipes , soup , sustainable food , winter        

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Warm Up With This Seasonal Sweet Potato, Squash, Fennel & Carrot Soup!

Mandy Barker’s SOUP Photographs Bring Awareness to Ocean Trash

February 20, 2012 by  
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Read the rest of Mandy Barker’s SOUP Photographs Bring Awareness to Ocean Trash Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: eco-aware art , environmental destruction , environmental photography , garbage patch , mandy barker , North pacific Garbage Patch , ocean trash , soup photography

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Mandy Barker’s SOUP Photographs Bring Awareness to Ocean Trash

The Fukushima Emergency Project Is a Pop-Up Shelter Providing Housing Relief for Disaster Victims

February 20, 2012 by  
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Learning from the issues that arose in the aftermath of the Fukushima blast in Japan over one year ago, students at the Architecture School of Bordeaux have developed the Fukushima Emergency Project — a pop-up shelter designed for disaster relief. The students wanted to create a design that could be replicated in any country and work in tandem with other relief efforts. The structure is constructed with cardboard tubes and pallets that are typically used to deliver emergency goods, and each shelter measures a reasonably comfortable 12,5 square meters (about the size of an average car space). The shelter can also be covered to protect against the elements or to add privacy. + Fukushima Emergency Project The article above was submitted to us by an Inhabitat reader. Want to see your story on Inhabitat ? Send us a tip by following this link . Remember to follow our instructions carefully to boost your chances of being chosen for publishing! Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: disaster relief design , disaster shelters , emergency relief design , emergency relief shelter , emergency shelters , france , humanitarian design , pop-up shelter , the Architecture School of Bordeaux , The Fukushima Emergency Project

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The Fukushima Emergency Project Is a Pop-Up Shelter Providing Housing Relief for Disaster Victims

Guests Can Sleep Under a LEGO Chandelier at Brighton’s Harrington Hotel

February 20, 2012 by  
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If you’ve ever coveted the privacy of your own hotel, head to Brighton’s posh The Harrington . You’ll be left utterly alone, as the hotel only has one room! The clandestine digs are also chock full of opulent upcycled designs – including this  LEGO chandelier designed by John Harrington himself! Read the rest of Guests Can Sleep Under a LEGO Chandelier at Brighton’s Harrington Hotel Permalink | Add to del.icio.us | digg Post tags: brighton , DIY chandelier , drinking glass chandelier , eco design , green design , John Harrington , LEGO Chandelier , No-tell Hotel , One Room Hotel , sustainable design , The Harrington , UK , upcycled design

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Guests Can Sleep Under a LEGO Chandelier at Brighton’s Harrington Hotel

How can I reuse or recycle out of date packet soup?

May 25, 2011 by  
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Karen left a question on the Suggest an Item page: Hi! I found out of date instant soup packets. Any ideas

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How can I reuse or recycle out of date packet soup?

5 fantastic reuses: the best recipes for using up leftover rice

November 2, 2010 by  
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It’s all to easy to cook too much rice but thankfully there are lots of ways to use it up. Food safety warning: bacteria, specifically Bacillus cereus , loves cooked rice – and it can quickly grow to dangerous levels

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5 fantastic reuses: the best recipes for using up leftover rice

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