Is everyone around you coming down with colds and flu? And those nasty respiratory infections that linger so much longer than anyone expects? That’s February. A volatile month, a gauntlet we run to make it to spring. Whether you’ve got kids in school, like little Petri dishes scooting around, or you’re hopping on an airplane, or shoulder to shoulder on the subway, unless you live in a bubble, you are vulnerable.
What can you do to prevent colds and flu?
Today’s inspiration comes from a book published in 1914. And guess what? Nothing has changed, really.
Advice from a favorite in my antiquarian cookbook collection, the Mazdaznan Dietetics and Cookery-Book by Dr. Otoman Zar-Adusht Ha’nish. British Edition, 1914:
“February is the month of high ideals and lofty calculations.
February, a month of changeable weather, a month conducive to throat and nasal catarrhs. Use no coffee or tea with meals. Confine yourself to herb teas.
February brings with it many disturbances to the intestines and the throat. Beware of too many stimulants and too much oily food.
February brings with it many attentions to be paid to our conduct to ourselves. Owing to the great energy on the part of nature the circulation is very apt to become sluggish. Certain foods disagree and will not effect the usual results expected. It is best to deviate from the ordinary rule of feasting and begin to cut down the rations as to the amount of solid food and use more liquid foods, or foods prepared into forms of a more liquid nature.”
Common sense: drink warm, nourishing liquids.
Turns out, Dr. Ha’nish is right, with his common sense circa 1914. There’s STILL no cure for the common cold. We still have February, when things become stagnant. The digestion is still sluggish. You think you need to eat a lot of heavy foods in the cold, but really, this time of year you want to keep things moving along because you don’t want anything that you might be exposed to to linger and fester.
I don’t want to sound preachy, but this is when you hold back on processed foods and a ton of bread and pasta. You want to stick with the foods that are packed with vitamins and minerals. We know what those are: plant foods!
The worst part is, if I get sick. I beat myself up! I can’t believe I got sick! If you do get nabbed, do yourself and everybody around you a favor: stay home and take care of yourself. Get those hot liquids in your body and rest. Give yourself permission to rest. Rest. Rest. Rest. In 1914 they were not running around in SUV’s picking up their kids from school. They were sent to take hot baths and drink hot liquids and “retire.” That’s how you survive!
My hot tip of the month: February is not the time to go full speed ahead. It’s the time to be mindful about taking care of yourself and your loved ones.
Here are some of my FAVORITE and most trusted kitchen cures for February ailments.
Love garlic? Don’t love garlic? Try this soup. Roasting transforms the garlic into a sweet, caramelized delight. Garlic is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial. Fortified with Yukon gold potatoes, thyme, pepper, onion, and a spritz of lemon, this soup will arm you… to the teeth. :)
Discover broth heaven! An elixir for healing, nourishment and flavor. My most famous recipe, with good reason. Uniquely healing, extraordinarily delicious. If you want to add ONE broth to your repertoire, I recommend you become an MMB maker; keep a stash in your freezer for both healing and soup stock, and be ready to share with friends in need. It even smells like health.
Spices—which have phenomenal warming and healing properties—can be the heart of a dish, rather than an add-on to enhance flavor. Here, the blending of spices is what really gives this dahl its power, both nutritionally and on the palate. Of course, lentils are nutritional powerhouses on their own, making this an especially apt for February menus.
Sometimes I feel more like a mad scientist than a cook. That’s what soup making and a pantry full of ingredients can do to you. Here I’ve created a hybrid of chicken and miso soups. The miso matches well with the garlic, ginger, and shitake mushrooms, and it goes in at the end, when the soup is already hot, so it’s probiotics are preserved—great news for your digestion!
Kitchari, which means “mixture,” is a thousand-year-old staple of Ayurvedic healing that’s enjoying a moment these days—understandably! Nourishing and comforting, it’s really quite simple, traditionally being made with basmati rice, mung beans, and ghee. I’ve kicked it up quite a bit, adding onion, ginger, cauliflower, coriander, turmeric, and cumin, enhancing both flavor and texture. Try this one!
Want to add to your soup skills? I made this fun, online course for you. Easy and valuable for both beginning and advanced cooks, my course teaches you skills that will last you a lifetime. I’ve said before, soup is life distilled into a bowl. I’ve also said, soup is love in a bowl. I believe both. :)