Winter is coming. Not a Game of Thrones fan? That’s okay. I’m pretty sure you know what I’m talking about – cold, wind, storms – and all of the germs and illnesses right along with it.
Now, while it may be an old wives tale that you’ll get sick if you don’t wear a coat (and thank God because my annoying teens are still in shorts), you still need to prepare for the inevitable bug that will make it’s way into your home this winter.
There’s a few things I always make sure to have in my kitchen at this time of year. And while you may not avoid getting sick, these things can help you get back to all of your mom duties a little quicker. Or at least, have you feeling slightly more human if you are doing laundry through the thick of it.
First, I always recommend Elderberry. It is available nearly everywhere in multiple forms, including liquid, gummies, lozenges and capsules. Elderberry is full of antioxidants, vitamin C and fiber. It also contains compounds called anthocyanins. These are powerful antioxidants that are also anti-inflammatory (think inflamed sinus passages, sore, swollen throat, headache)1. Elderberry has been shown in numerous studies to lessen cold and flu symptoms and shorten the duration of the illness. I have a bottle of gummies on the counter and my kids start taking them once they head back to school. For myself and the husband, I buy a tonic from an online company called Immuneschein that makes small batch ginger elixirs. Once opened, they keep in the refrigerator for quite a while. And as a bonus, they even send cocktail recipes for the elixirs – because doesn’t everything taste better out of a cocktail glass?
Next on the list of must haves for the winter pantry is bone broth. There’s a reason why chicken soup is the go to comfort food in the cold winter weather and the first thing your mom made when you were sick as a child. And while there is some debate as to whether it’s the minerals from the bones or the vitamins from the veggies in the stock that provide the most benefit, there is no denying that a hearty soup made with bone broth gives a boost to your immune system. Bone broth contains arginine, necessary for immune and liver function, glutamine that supports the body’s natural detox pathways and it has anti-inflammatory benefits too.2 There are a number of brands on the market today that sell pre-made bone broth. However, it is super easy to make. Made a whole roast chicken for Sunday dinner? Don’t throw out the bones. Throw them in the crockpot, fill with water, add veggies if you want, spices and a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar – it helps pull nutrients from the bones. Sip as is instead of afternoon coffee or tea, make a pot of soup with it or freeze for later use.
Finally, consider adding fermented foods to your diets. Most people already eat yogurt but the number of fermented foods available today goes far beyond that. Kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and even tempeh are great options. Having a healthy gut microbiome is key to a healthy immune system. The probiotics found in these ferments may improve the balance of healthy microbes in the gut and strengthen the lining of the intestines to prevent intruders from passing through.3 Again, you can ferment veggies at home or try your hand at making Kombucha tea. If that’s not your thing, I recommend the seasonal varieties of G.T.’s Kombucha and the Beet Kraut from from Cleveland Kraut. I can’t get enough of these.
It’s likely that someone in your house will fall victim to whatever nastiness the kids decide to pass around this year, but get these items into your house. Incorporate them into your winter routine. You may make it through to springtime without spending a week sidelined on the couch or stuck home with a sick child (or worse – sick husband). Because really moms, who the heck has time for that?