While the change of seasons can be beautiful here on the east coast, the change of weather can also tend to be drastic (a week ago here in NYC it was 75*. This morning it's 45*. Suspect.) which often leads to illness and colds. Bleh. Mine came early this year after a chilly trip to Boston this past weekend to teach for the ECA conference with Mad Dog. While the students heated up the classrooms with their enthusiasm and hard work (thank you all for your energy and wonderful participation!), it remained chilly outside. I am NOT a fan of cold weather. It comes with baggage, literally and figuratively. I automatically gain ten pounds this time of year by layering on scarfs, heavy coats, sweaters, etc. While it's great to add the ounces for an effective workout as I run to the subway, it certainly doesn't make a gal feel very sexy. Not to mention, the heat comes on in the building, and even if I leave it off in my apartment, the air inevitably becomes dry and stale. Given my Vata dosha (to read more about what that means, click here!), I am one of the few people that LOVE the heat and humidity. I can actually breathe easier and my body feels wonderful in it. (Thus, my love of Southeast Asia and particularly BALI!!!) This cold, dry, acrid weather? Not good. So, to combat my cold and the cold in general, I've spent the past 12 hours or so scheming in the kitchen concocting remedies and solutions I thought I'd share with you. From some traditional herbal healing recipes I picked up in Bali to my favorite standbys, they're all here. I hope you'll find these help keep the chill and the colds at bay.
First, and I say this more to myself than any of you . . . lay off the SALT!!!! I think I've been eating way too much lately, contributing to my dehydrated state. One way to do this is to avoid prepared and processed foods. Even dishes you think are good for you can be loaded with hidden salt. I ate some dairy free pureed spinach from one of my favorite spots in the city, Dishes, and thought it tasted too good to be true! It was. I feel awful today! Especially soups. So be careful. That's all I'm saying.
Second, get a humidifier. Mine runs 24-7. In the bedroom at night, out in the office or living area during the day. I have the Germ Gaurdian one which has mixed reviews on Amazon.com, but you can get a rundown of some of the top rated ones here.
Third, change up your breakfast routine with warming foods. For me a dip in the temperature means a switch in how I start my day. This morning it was steel cut oats with stewed apricots and a shitload of ginger. Ginger is great to aid digestion and a wonderful anti-inflammatory and immune boosting agent. It warms from the inside out. I added it to my Jamu last night (more on Jamu below!) and you can also take a small slice and stick it under your tongue. Or simply grate a bunch of it and throw it in a pot of boiling water to make tea. And some honey if you like it sweet. You can't O.D. on ginger so go for it. Here is one of my favorite recipes:
This is my favorite thing on top of a piping bowl of oatmeal. I prepare a big batch and keep in the fridge to use all week long. But the juice is great for a tummy ache or on it’s own. A sweet natural treat.
½ - 1cup water
2 cups fresh Dried Fruit such as prunes, figs, apricots.
Fresh Ginger (Slices or grated, at least 1 tbsp. grated, I use more)
Orange Zest (Optional)
Combine Fruit, Ginger, and Zest in water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Add cinnamon and cover. Allow to sit on stove for about ten minutes. You can store in refrigerator for up to a week and the juice begins to get thicker. Great topping in oatmeal or add a little homemade granola. Perfect in the colder months. Keeps the digestive system warm.
Ok, on to my favorite part of this blog, JAMU! I learned how to make Jamu my very first day in Bali from Lilir, who guides you step by step and teaches you why Indonesians have been using holistic, natural healing formulas for centuries. This particular combination is a great antiseptic, warming tonic, expectorant, and cleansing and slimming tonic. Really, what more can you ask for? Basically, a cure for all that ails you. I had to modify the recipe slightly, since I didn't have all the fresh ingredients available to me here in the States. But it still came out fabulous. Try it yourself and see!
1 tbsp. Tumeric
(I used the powdered version of both of these, but if you can find fresh, go for it!)
2 tbsp. Tamarind (I found the paste at a Whole Foods market)
Agave nectar (How much you use depends on how sweet you like it. Start out with about 2 tbsps and you can go from there. Also, you can probably use honey, depending on your taste. The traditional recipe calls for palm sugar. Again, in Bali we used fresh palm sugar straight from the plant. But I'm not in Bali anymore, sadly. I wouldn't recommend using white refined sugar)
2 tbsp. fresh ground ginger (like I said, I'm a ginger freak, but you can use less if you'd like)
Blend the Tumeric and Galangal powder with at least 1 1/2 cups water in a blender on low speed. Pour into small saucepan and add Tamarind and Ginger on low heat. Consistently stir and 'smash' Tamarind until most of it dissolves in solution, about 10 minutes. Just before finishing, add Agave or Honey. Pour mixture through a small mesh strainer, 'pushing' all the liquid out with the back of a spoon. You can save what you don't drink in the fridge for up to three days. Reheat or drink cold.
I'm telling you, this is good stuff. At least I like it. Just finished a cup as I complete this blog. Now it's off to heat up and sweat out the toxic amounts of salt at Prana Power Yoga with Rachel. The day is looking up!