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Warm up this cold season Good soup draws the chair to it, says a with nutrient-rich, Ghanaian proverb. What's more, experts immunity-boosting soup. say it drives ills away. Sitting down to a steaming bowl of soup on a winter day is a custom as ancient as it is universal, and it may be your strongest culinary defense this cold-and-flu season.
To boost immunity, says Rebecca Katz, chef, nutritionist, and author of The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen, we should eat a varied diet, and a pot of soup is one of the best ways to do that. "Soup has the potential to be nutrient dense on every level," she explains, "because the stock itself contains so many amazing antioxidants and phytochemicals."
Stock is the foundation of any good soup. Katz suggests preparing it in advance and freezing it in four-cup portions (or if you're short on time, diluting organic store-bought stock). Then, simply add fresh, immunity-boosting ingredients in whatever variety and quantity you have on hand, and simmer until they're tender. Which ingredients are your best bets for staying well? Topping the charts is garlic, for its potential antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. Next, vegetables rich in beta carotene (think colorful carrots, tomatoes, and sweet potatoes) are vital immune boosters, providing vitamin A and protecting the thymus, the major gland of our immune system. Not surprisingly, broccoli also makes the cut. Studies show that this vitamin C powerhouse contains sulforaphane, which triggers antioxidant genes and enzymes in certain immune cells. And don't forget dark leafy greens. Kale is a detoxifier, bursting with B and C, beta carotene, iron, and zinc. "With all the different antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals," says Katz, "eating a bowl of soup is like giving your body an internal spa treatment." LAViNiA SPALDiNG
green soup with sweet potatoes
Makes 4 to 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnish
2 yellow onions, chopped Sea salt
1V4 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced 31/2 cups water 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves 1 bunch kale 1 bunch green chard 8 cloves garlic, peeled
3 cups vegetable broth Freshly ground black pepper Fresh lemon juice
1 Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and stir frequently until the onions are soft and golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes.
2 Meanwhile, place the sweet potatoes in a large pot with 3^ cups water, ^ teaspoon salt, and the sage. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, about 10 minutes.
3 Wash the kale and chard, trim away the tough stems, and chop. Add to sweet potatoes along with garlic and vegetable broth. Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the onions to the soup and let cool slightly
4 Purée the mixture in a blender, in batches, and return the puréed soup to the pot. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. To serve, drizzle olive oil over individual bowls of soup.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Love Soup, by Anna Thomas (Norton and Company, 2009).
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Gray skies got you For years, winter brought seri-down? Try restorative ous mood changes for Natalie postures to rebalance Engler. She craved carbohy-your nervous system. drates, struggled with lethargy, and hated to get out of bed in the morning. The feelings lasted through April, when her mood brightened and her energy returned.
This cyclic form of depression, known as seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is thought to be triggered by a lack of sunlight during the winter. SAD is often treated with light therapy, which gave Engler, now a restorative yoga teacher, little relief. "I just figured that winter blues was something I'd have to live with," she recalls. But during teacher training with clinical psychologist and Integrative Yoga therapist Bo Forbes, Engler developed a practice to combat her winter depression. It included pranayama (breathwork) and meditation in front of her light box; vinyasa yoga; and at least 20 minutes a day of restorative yoga, which she describes as the single most powerful part of the practice.
"Restorative yoga may look passive from the outside, but it's very active internally on both subtle and dramatic levels," says Forbes, who is the founder and director of the Center for Integrative Yoga Therapeutics in Boston. "Our nervous systems are designed to respond to minute fluctuations in our environments. Restorative yoga, combined with breathwork, is a potent tool to recalibrate the nervous system."
Restorative yoga and breathwork form the heart of the therapeutic yoga practice Forbes developed for emotional balance. "Many people don't realize that SAD has three distinct phases," she says. "In the dead of winter [December through February], it looks like depression, with symptoms such as lethargy and carbohydrate craving. But in the fall and early spring, it is often characterized by hypomania, where people tend to have physical agitation, racing thoughts, and a decreased need for sleep and food. At these times, your practice should address that increased anxiety and activation."
Forbes advises people who are struggling with SAD, or think they might be, to first notice whether the body feels energized or tired, and whether the mind is agitated or lethargic. Then, practice the following sequence, choosing the breathwork that's appropriate for you. It may help to do some active postures first, particularly if you're feeling restless and anxious. "It's important to learn to practice to your nervous system and ride the waves of emotional fluctuations, not just when things get really bad," Forbes says, "but all year long, to strengthen and support your emotional health." carol krucoff restore &
Bo Forbes says the breathwork in these restorative postures makes all the difference in their effect on the nervous system. if you're feeling anxious and restless in your mind and body, as is typical of sad during the fall and early spring, exhale for twice the count of your inhalation as you practice these poses. (if you're still feeling agitated after that, take a supported Child's pose.) if you're feeling lethargic in your mind and body, make your exhalations and inhalations of equal length. Hold each pose for 5 to 20 minutes.
(Supported Corpse Pose)
Supta Baddha Konasana
(Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
Salamba Viparita Karani
(Supported Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)
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