Cold and Flu-Fighting Foods

Cold and Flu-Fighting Foods

We all know a balanced/varied/colorful diet, frequent hand-washing, sufficient sleep, regular exercise, a flu shot, and maybe a supplement (since it’s hard to eat perfect every day) are the best means of warding off sickness.  Whether it’s the dead of winter, and your whole family has the flu, or you just want to shorten that lingering summer cold, there ARE specific nutrients that help fight illnesses.  Incorporate the below in your diet on a regular basis to keep your immune system strong all year long OR increase intake when your need to put up your best fight.  These items will ultimately be more effective than many over-the-counter medicines! 

Celtic Sea Salt
This particular salt is harvested from the Atlantic seawater off the coast of Brittany, France.  It is unrefined and contains no chemicals, preservatives or additives.  It provides electrolytes, which are especially important for fluid balance when you aren’t feeling well and thus not eating and drinking adequately.  Use Celtic salt instead of your current shaker in everyday cooking or seasoning.  (Remember to go easy on the sodium if you have high blood pressure or heart disease. If you work out and sweat a lot, you may need to add more sodium to your diet.   Always check with your doctor or Registered Dietitian for your personal needs.)

Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
This was traditionally used as a disinfectant.  It is now found in both the condiment and health supplement aisles of the supermarket.  Acids in ACV can improve digestion and deter growth of harmful bacteria in the digestive tract.   Add 1-2 Tbsp to hot water or tea or use in salad dressing.

 Vitamin C
This is necessary for growth and repair of tissue in all parts of the body.   Lemons are a great source.  They help fortify against infection, and have some anti-inflammatory effects as well.  Grapefruits, oranges, dark leafy greens, strawberries, and red bell peppers also have a high content of this nutrient.

This aromatic spice is surprisingly a good source of fiber, iron, and calcium.  It is rich in antioxidants:  One teaspoon contains as much antioxidants as a full cup of pomegranate juice or a half cup of blueberries.   Cinnamon acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, and it has antimicrobial activity to fight infection. 

This soothes a sore throat and may alleviate nighttime coughing as well as over-the-counter cough medicine.

Supplements (ask me to help recommend one for you!) and rich food sources (yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut) both improve gut health AND decrease the incidence of upper respiratory infections. 

Chicken Soup
Not only does this bowl of hot liquid hydrate and soothe an achy throat, it warms airways, thus loosening mucus to help alleviate coughs and stuffed noses.  The protein from the chicken helps build antibodies to that fight infection.   Its amino acid cysteine thins mucus as well to decrease symptoms.

This spice is high in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory and helps rid the body of toxins.

Garlic and Onion
The active component in garlic called allicin has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.  It also improves healthy gut bacteria.  Onions also contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds.

As mentioned above, hot liquids help hydrate a sick body and ease a sore throat, sneezing, chills, and fatigue.  All teas (white, green, black) contain catechins, antioxidants that have been show to decrease the chance of catching the flu and boost overall immunity and metabolism.  Adding one cup of chopped anise seeds or 1.5 tsp of fennel seeds to hot water for tea can help alleviate coughs and congestion due to the natural expectorant effects of both types of seeds.  Chamomile and ginger teas can ease stomach discomfort and inflammation.

Putting it all together
To pack the most punch, try these combinations:
-Chicken soup made with garlic, onion, turmeric, kale, and bell peppers
-Hot green tea with 1 tbsp AVC, 1 tbsp honey, a squeeze of lemon juice, and a dash of cinnamon

Feel better soon!!



Recent Posts

Recent Recipes

Lower-Calorie Holiday Drink Recipes

Lower-Calorie Holiday Drink Recipes

Wine Spritzer

(Instead of a full glass of wine/champagne, this has half the calories.)

3 oz white wine (Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling, etc), 1 oz club soda, handful of ice, lemon or orange garnish

Pour wine into glass containing ice.  Top off with club soda.  Squeeze a wedge of orange or lemon and add garnish to glass or rim.





(Instead of the regular, high-calorie, high-fat version, try this one.)

3.5 cups 1% or fat free milk, ½ cup sweetened condensed fat free milk, 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour, ¼ tsp grated nutmeg, 1/8 tsp salt, 2 large egg yolks, ¼ cup bourbon, 2 Tbsp brandy, 1 tsp vanilla extract, extra nutmeg to garnish


  1. Combine first 5 ingredients in a saucepan and boil over medium heat on stove, stirring with whisk.    Place egg yolks in a bowl and whisk 1/3 of hot mixture into egg yolks.  Add everything back to saucepan, stir with whisk and continue to cook on medium heat for 1 minute or until thickened.  Pour into pitcher and stir in brandy, bourbon, and vanilla.
  2. Cover pitcher surface with wax paper and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Garnish with added nutmeg when serving.

This makes 8 ½ cup servings, each at 147 calories and 2.3 g fat.



Apple Sangria

(Try this fall fruit version instead of the usual sugary one.)

3 cinnamon stick with extra for garnish, 2 chopped honeycrisp apples, 1 orange sliced thin, 1 bottle red wine (light bodied Spanish works well), 1.75 cups apple cider, ½ cup brandy, ¼ cup orange juice (or juice from 2 medium oranges), juice from one lemon, club soda


  1. Place cinnamon sticks, apples and orange slices into a pitcher.  Add wine, cider, brandy, orange and lemon juice.  Refrigerate for 6-24 hours.
  2. Pour into glasses with fruit, and add extra cinnamon stick to garnish as desired.
  3. Add club soda to taste right before serving. The more club soda vs. mixture, the less calories!
Drink Less Calories this Holiday Season

Drink Less Calories this Holiday Season

The holidays are officially upon us once again.  And we know ‘tis the season to eat and drink.  Whether you will be drinking to celebrate or beat the shopping and family stress, here are some tips to decrease the amount of calories that go into your body this winter.

  1. Eat before you drink. Drinking alcohol decreases inhibitions.  If you drink on an empty stomach, you will be more likely to indulge in the bread basket or high-calorie snacks and foods that you see at a holiday party.  Enjoy a healthy snack or small meal before you go out OR wait to drink with your meal.
  2. Decrease your serving size. Here are the facts:

-1.5 ounces of hard alcohol has about 100 calories

-12 ounces of beer has about 100-150 calories (light vs. regular)

-5 ounces of dry wine or champagne has about 100 calories

Calories increase with sweeter wines and higher alcoholic content (higher proof).   An evening (or season) of celebrating can easily add up to hundreds of extra calories.  Many restaurants are strict with their pours and measure the amount of alcohol they serve you.  When you or a friend is pouring, it may be more generous.  Try using a smaller glass or supervising your servings.

  1. Select the correct mixers. Did you know that tonic has as many calories as regular soda?  Stick with plain wine, beer, or alcohol instead of adding mixers (tonic, soda, juice, sugary syrups).  You can try your liquor on ice with added lemon, lime, or mint.   Mix in zero-calorie additions, including club soda, diet soda, ice, or even water.  If you want juice for flavor, try adding a tiny splash.
  2. Pace yourself. Try putting down your drink to slow down the rate at which you finish.  OR if you want to have something in your hands at all times, drink a glass of water or club soda between each alcoholic beverage.  This will help keep you hydrated AND decrease the risk of a hangover.
6 Ways to Enjoy Holiday Foods

6 Ways to Enjoy Holiday Foods

(CBS) – It seems the holiday season was made for fatty foods. Many people will soon be gathering with friends and family, eating cookies cakes and pies.

But there are ways you can enjoy some seasonal foods without overdoing it.

Dietician Robin Kaiden suggests:

1 At the buffet, steer clear of foods loaded with cream, butter and gravy.

2 . Don’t have a little bite of every food. Just have a couple of your favorites.

3. Some nutritionists recommend eating a handful of nuts or half a banana before going to a holiday party in order to avoid more tempting foods when you get there.

4. Also don’t skip meals- thinking you’ll save all your calories for the big party.

5. Don`t start your celebrating with alcohol. Alcohol limits your inhibitions.

6. Don’t beat yourself up if you have one bad night; just try to be healthy the next day.

Click here for video and the original article

Thanksgiving Trim

Thanksgiving Trim

Although some of us may have indulged in too many treats over Halloween, more of us have a greater struggle towards the end of this month as the official holiday season kicks off.  This year, however, you can try my Top Thanksgiving Stay-Trim Tips to overcome any Turkey Troubles.  Start the holidays off right with these healthy hints.

turkey1.  Instead of dark turkey meat, choose the white meat.  It is a lean protein that is lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories.

2.  Skip the skin.  This is the part of the turkey that is highest in fat, cholesterol, and calories. cranberry-sauce

3.  Try a topping of cranberry sauce instead of gravy.  It has a great, sweet flavor and is lower in sodium, fat, and cholesterol than gravy.  Yes, cranberry sauce is often high in sugar and can add up quick in calories, so keep your portions small.  You can also try the Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce recipe below.

4.  Instead of cream and butter, mash your potatoes with skim milk and cholesterol-free margarine or spread.

5.  Try baked or mashed sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes.  They are richer in minerals and mashed_potatoes2vitamins, especially beta carotene, and have a lower glycemic index.  Their natural sweet flavor can be enhanced with just a pinch of cinnamon and don’t need milk and butter.  OR try roasted white or sweet potato “chips”.  Slice potatoes thin and place in oven drizzled with olive oil sweet-potatoto bake.

6.  Fill up on fruit or vegetable appetizers.  They are high in fiber and make you feel fuller longer.  This will help prevent overeating during the main meal.

7.  If you are a guest at someone else’s house, spoil your appetite.  Have a significant filling snack before you go:  yogurt + fruit, a salad, vegetable soup, or even half a sandwich.  This way you will not arrive hungry at your dinner and will be less tempted by unhealthy options.

tossed-green-salad18.  If you are hosting Thanksgiving, you have the control (and your guests will thank you) to offer healthier options.  Serve a green salad and/or vegetable soup for beginning courses.  Make a vegetable, nut, and/or whole wheat-based stuffing.  Include another vegetable side, such a Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or zucchini.

9.  Offer and/or choose healthy hors d’oeuvres.  Try vegetables (celery, tomato, peppers, carrots, broccoli) with lowfat dips (hummus, lowfat dressings) or whole wheat bread and crackers with lowfat, low sodium cheeses.crudite

10.  Be on Portion Patrol, especially if you are eating family or buffet style.  Put everything on your plate first so you are aware of what you are eating.

11.  Plate Perfect for better balance:  Make sure 1/2 of your plate is filled with a vegetable, 1/4 with a lean protein, and 1/4 with a starch, preferably one that is high in fiber/whole grains.


Background of assorted fresh berries close up

Background of assorted fresh berries close up

12.  Fruit for dessert–you will be surprised how popular this will be, especially a fresh fruit salad.  Try the baked apple recipe below and avoid the high-fat pie crust of apple pie.

13.  Work out!  A lot of gyms ARE open on Thanksgiving day, so get in a good sweat before you sit down for your meal.  OR make sure you work out Wednesday and Friday of Thanksgiving week.  If you are away and/or not near a gym, go for a walk, run, jog, do a workout video and/or play an exercise/active video game. lunge

14.  If you DO indulge on Thanksgiving, remember it is just one day or one weekend.  Get back on track immediately to healthy eating and exercise habits.

Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce

Try this cranberry sauce, not only on your turkey over the holidays, but as a flavorful addition to meals, snacks, or desserts!  Customize with your choice of some of the below ingredients.


2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed (with soft or brown ones removed)

1 cup orange, apple, or white grape juice concentrate

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or 1/4 cup raisins, dried apricots, dried figs or dried dates

1 tsp orange zest

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt (if desired)


1.  Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.

2.  Stir frequently, as the cranberries will burst open and gel together.

3.  Simmer for about 30 minutes at reduced heat.

4.  Serve warm or chilled, and ENJOY!

**Makes about 8 servings of 1/4 cup.

baked-applesBaked Apple Recipe

Try this sweet, healthy alternative to apple pie on Thanksgiving or any time during the year.

-6 apples (choose your favorite variety!)

-1/2 cup raisins and/or dried apricots

-1/4 cup chopped walnuts OR pecans (or other nut)

-3/4 tsp grated orange zest

-3/4 cup water

-3/4 tsp powdered cinnamon

-3/4 tsp powdered nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F.  Remove apple cores and peel around core opening.  Place apples in shallow baking pan.  Stir together raisins, nuts, and zest in a small bowl.  Add water and spices to saucepan and heat until it boils.   Simmer at low heat for 2 minutes.  Fill each apple core with nut mixture.  Spoon the hot mixture over each apple.  Place pan in oven for 30-35 minutes or until apples are soft.  Enjoy!

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