Archives for posts with tag: chicken soup

Salmon

Not a day goes by without a story about what we should or shouldn’t eat and everyone has an opinion about it. I was thinking about the benefits of salmon and avocado yesterday simply because a friend of mine who really eats to live was extolling the virtues and it reminded me that my Mum also swears by these two good-fat-foods. And honestly, whatever my Mum says has to go because anyone who knows her will testify that she genuinely does defy her decades. She looks fab!

I am no nutritionist but I do see what is happening in the food world and there is no doubt that certain foods are gaining in momentum because of their perceived if not actually proven values. And you know when both Jamie Oliver and, shock, horror, Nigella Lawson are going down the healthy route that things must be in the mainstream.

Jamie has not only initiated the fight against sugar, which I have written about before on this blog, but he has also integrated nutritional top tips into his cooking … as well as researching the healthiest places in the world and looking at what they eat. His recent book and series: Everyday Super Food is a lesson in how to make small changes without compromising on the taste and enjoyment of eating. He throws in lots of facts as to why you need to put a squeeze of lemon in your spinach or how a handful of nuts a day can reduce your risk of heart disease by 50% and increase your life expectancy by two years! But the bottom line is that he is making balanced simple food from the best that our earth has to offer. Less meat, more veg, less fat, more fibre, less sugar, more whole fruit. He also puts his own recent weight loss down to more sleep and using more seaweed in his cooking! For his top ten tips, read on here

Nigella is not as overt about the choices she is making but does refer to catering to friends who are gluten free, or just having a feel good meal. Her Simply Nigella: feel good food is not as specific as Jamie but it is absolutely nodding to the different choices that she is clearly making in her eating and ones which strike a cord with increasingly more people who want to choose healthier options without compromising on eating quality.

My ginger, sour cherry and seeded bar

My ginger, sour cherry and seeded bar

We are finding much the same at work. In years gone by, I remember that anything with blueberries at Marks and Spencer was a top seller. It almost didn’t matter what it was: a blueberry yogurt or a blueberry muffin. It was about this superfood and as I left, we were exploring findings from the West coast of the USA where they are ahead of the health curve and talking about weird ingredients like goji berries which at the time were cited as Madonna’s source of eternal youth! Of course now they are pretty normal and we have moved on to other discoveries such as kale, chia seeds and spirulina. The team at work are doing lots with natural sources of sweetness, different seeds and berries, leaves and veggies but everything in the name of good food and it is going down a storm. Today I made my version of their Goodness Bar to have something better for me as a snacking option and it really worked out well.

Mind you, what I find interesting in all of this is the history of it all. The Aztecs seemed to have a lot sussed as early as the 14th century and the South Americans generally have great sources from the rainforest and their land. It is sad to know that our recent fad for quinoa is ruining the lives of the people of Peru as we hoard their core staple in the name of health, driving up the price and making it out of reach for those who have been quietly living on it for centuries.

And as a nice Jewish girl, I hark back to my roots every time I am going down with the sniffles, turning to good old fashioned chicken soup as my remedy. Made to our family recipe it is my go to medicine and it seems that it is now proven to have carnosine which helps the body’s immune system. You can read more about the Science of Chicken Soup here in this New York Times article.

So whilst I am no picture of virtue I am doing pretty well for my own years and maintaining a healthy outlook. That said, I don’t smoke and I don’t drink that much, I need to exercise more and drink more water but I do keep my food healthy and sleep pretty well. My doc seems to think that’s all good in my neck of the woods and that’s all that matters to me.

Honey centre in New Zealand

Honey centre in New Zealand

I have recently been in hospital and coming through the recovery highlighted to me the role that food plays in not only our sustenance but also cultural traditions.

After almost 24 hours of nil by mouth, and having missed the Sodexo lady on her dinner rounds, I was faced with the option of tea and toast as my first meal. It fascinates me how reassuring a piece of toast can be. Where does that come from? It always seems to be the best go-to when you have been feeling sick and that evening I had one brown piece with a pot of honey.

Honey seems to be natures answer to any illness. It just is. And some of the raw ones have a flavour and strength that is restorative from the moment it hits the back of your throat. Those clever bees are able to bring the best of their environments into this nectar and when that is a rainforest or a rare flower the flavour and benefits collide into something magical. We all know about Manuka honey, and nowadays there are many more miracle varieties from across the world. We sell Regent’s Park honey at work as a local product and many swear it is their salvation. I remember trying Ogilvy’s Zambezi Plains during the blind judging of the Great Taste Awards and just being struck at how complex the flavour was. Many on my judging table just didn’t get it, but whether or not you appreciate the end result, there was admiration for the product. Once we discovered after our votes just what went into producing it, I felt justified fighting that product’s corner.

Coming from a Jewish family, it is clear to me that there is simply one solution to all our ailments and that’s chicken soup. Passed down through the generations, the family chicken soup recipe is one that is always there at times of need. The elixir of life. There have been programmes and articles proving the benefits, but whether you want the technicalities or not, chicken soup is my medicine. It must be said that the following day in hospital my soup lunch was certainly not that. In fact, I could barely recognise how they produced that bowl of warm liquid but it didn’t matter. My family recipe waiting in the fridge for me at home.

SONY DSC

And then there is fruit. Grapes are the cliche of hospital visits, but the blood oranges I was given the following week really were beautiful. They just seemed to give me energy and vibrancy, as well as being such a beautiful fruit when cut open. I guess it is the sugar that helps the body. And all those antioxidants.

Finally, the office team brought along a few treats too. The marshmallow samples made the most wonderful hot chocolate and at night there can be nothing better than that sweet rich milky treat which can only be enhanced with a melting marshmallow.

It’s funny how the body tells you what nourishment it needs if you really listen to it but given that my hearing was somewhat impeded by my recovery, it was lovely to have friends who brought just the right thing to help me along the way. Thank you.