Warding Off Winter Illness

I write this post to save my readers from the horrid experience that hit my family this past week. With the never-ending shift in weather conditions here in Los Angeles, our immune systems are working twice as hard to keep us in the best of health. My 2 year old son started vomiting while at daycare and I immediately rushed to pick him up and care for him. It lasted for about 5 hours (happening every 30 minutes or so) and was accompanied with diarrhea. After taking him to the doctor and getting a diagnosis of a stomach virus, he seemed to be on the way back to good health. My husband and I spent that night caring for him so that he could get back to school, but little did we know his bug would infect us. In the middle of the night, both of us flew out of bed with vomiting and diarrhea spells and had to call in work the next day. We were a house down and physically, it was one of the most excruciating experiences of my life.

It’s so important when dealing with inclement weather conditions that we all protect ourselves and families so that we remain unscathed from the bugs that are out there. Here are a few tips to keep yourself and your home germ free:

-Wash your hands frequently. This one is not news. We hear this all the time regarding cold/flu season, and it’s best to make this a practice year round. Keep hand sanitizer in your car, handbag, backpack, etc for those times you can’t access hot water and soap.

-Dump trash frequently. This one is essential, especially if there is a sick party in your household. A build up of soiled tissues laying around is illness waiting to happen. Keep you and your family well by dumping those wastebaskets as soon as they fill out, sometimes sooner.

-Keep your home (and car) disinfected. Keep Lysol spray and wipes around your house and a set of wipes in your car. Spray and wipe things down frequently to keep germs from building up. Also, spray air and heat vents around the house to kill any germs from spreading from one room to another.

-Eat light. With many holiday celebrations, food is always in abundance, but a sluggish digestive system is not conducive to a productive immune system. Let the cold weather be your guide and eat light but filling foods like soup, or if you’re in the mood for something more hearty, vegetable stew and turkey chili.

-Drink plenty of fluids. Water is the super fluid of life so continue to drink plenty of it and enjoy fresh fruit juice in moderation. Herbal teas are perfect for this time of year.

Get plenty of rest. Often during vacation time, our first inclination is to do the things we aren’t able to do when we are at work. However we overlook “relaxing” as one of those options. Listen to your body’s cues. If you feel tired and want to relax, go ahead and do just that. Read a book, listen to music, take a nap, and decompress. You’ll be back to the hustle and bustle soon enough.

Be well everyone.

Recipes: Fall Soups

Even though LA is currently breaking records with our weather, we know it won’t last forever. With our version of winter around the corner, a good way to stay warm and save money is by making homemade soups. Even in this heat, folks are catching colds and the flu right and left, and there is nothing like a good soup to stave off those nasty germs.

I’ve been experimenting with different recipes, and have found these three to be both light and filling. Check them out when you’re in the mood to switch in the kitchen!

Recipes courtesy of Epicurous.com:

Yucatan-Style Chicken, Lime, and Orzo Soup

  • 3/4 cup orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced
  • 3/4 pound skinless boneless chicken breasts, cut into matchstick-size strips
  • 5 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 large tomato, seeded, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs

Cook orzo in pot of boiling salted water until just tender. Drain well.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, and chiles. Sauté until onion begins to brown, about 4 minutes. Add chicken; sauté 1 minute. Add broth, lime juice, and tomato. Simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Mix in orzo, then chopped cilantro. Season soup with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into 4 bowls. Garnish with cilantro sprigs.

Pasta, Sausage and Bean Soup

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian sausages, castings removed
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 1/2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 celery stalk with leaves, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 5 cups canned chicken broth
  • 1 14 1/2-to 16-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 15- to 16-ounce can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 cup elbow macaroni

Heat oil in heavy large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausages and sauté until beginning to brown, breaking up with back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Add onions, carrots, celery, garlic, basil, rosemary, crushed red pepper and sage. Sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 10 minutes. Add broth, tomatoes with their juices and beans. Bring soup to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors blend, about 20 minutes.

Add macaroni to soup and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This last one is an acquired taste, but if you like spicy food, it’s a winner!

Thai-Spiced Watermelon Soup with Crabmeat

For soup

  • 5 cups coarsely chopped seeded watermelon (from a 4-lb piece, rind discarded)
  • 1 fresh lemongrass stalk*
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mild olive oil
  • 1 small hot green chile such as Thai or serrano, finely chopped (including seeds), or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste

For crab

  • 10 oz jumbo lump crabmeat (2 cups), picked over
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mild olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • Accompaniment: lime wedges

Make soup:
Purée watermelon in a blender until smooth and transfer to a bowl. (Don’t wash blender.)

Discard 1 or 2 outer leaves of lemongrass and trim root end. Thinly slice lower 5 to 6 inches of stalk and then mince, discarding remainder.

Cook lemongrass, shallot, ginger, and garlic in oil in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat, stirring, until aromatics are pale golden, about 5 minutes. Add about one third of watermelon purée and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, 5 minutes.

Remove watermelon mixture from heat, then transfer to blender along with chile, lime juice, and salt and blend until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids).

Add remaining watermelon purée and blend briefly. Season soup with more chile, lime juice, and salt if desired, blending if necessary. Pour soup through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on and then discarding any solids. Chill soup, uncovered, about 2 hours if serving cold, or reheat in cleaned saucepan.

Prepare crab:
Toss crabmeat with cilantro, oil, and salt.

Divide crab among 4 soup plates, mounding in center, and pour chilled or hot soup around it.

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/