Your immune system is your body’s first line of defence, especially as the colder seasons approach. Most people imagine the immune system to be made up of an army of white blood cells, which go into battle when bacteria or viruses ‘invade’. However, your whole body is effectively your immune system. Your skin, your digestive tract, your stomach acid, your lymphatic system, the hairs in your nose and ears … and, yes your leucocytes, the fighting white blood cells. There is no doubt that autumn and the return to school and work brings a cacophony of illnesses; colds and flu’s, stomach bugs and chest infections. To support our immunity we need to consume zinc-rich foods, like green beans and brussels sprouts and uber zinc packed pumpkin seeds. Roast them, don’t waste them.
But the true STARS of autumn and winter are the alliums, most importantly, the humble onion and garlic. In there organic form they are packed tightly with anti -inflammatory phytonutrients and flavonoids, these detoxify, are highly anti-inflammatory and work as natural antibiotics for colds and flu’s. Onions hold there qualities when cooked (unlike many other vegetables where phytonutrients are leached out during cooking), while garlic is better used raw! Instead of cooking your onion and garlic together at the start of a dish, leave your garlic until last, use a garlic press and squeeze it into your soups, stroganoffs and casseroles. The flavour is just as rewarding and the benefits are far more medicinal.
My family are prone to winter coughs so I’m including our cough medicine recipe, this tastes much better than pharmacy bought syrups and you know exactly what is in it, definitely no preservatives!
Onion & Honey Cough Medicine
1 organic onion
Raw runny honey – to cover
An airtight jar
Slice your onion into rings. Put these into the jar. Cover with raw honey. Seal the jar tightly. Leave at room temperature over night.
Dosage: 1-2 tsp hourly or as required.
This cough medicine will last for 2 days.
Enjoy the autumn and the winding down this season brings, but support your immune system so bacteria and virus’ have no place in your body to manifest into nasty illnesses.
We have many traditions surrounding the start of autumn, the Harvest Moon, the Harvest Festival and the Autumn Equinox. All are tied delightfully together with producing food, harvesting food and celebrating the abundance of summer. This year the Harvest Moon was the 16th September. Thought to be the brightest and clearest of the full moons it allows farmers to mark their calendar and extends their day light hours to gather the crops before the weather changes. The Harvest Festival follows soon after to mark the end of one season and its hard work and the start of another. This movement into autumn is clearly denoted by the Autumn Equinox, this year on the 22nd September. This day is of equal day and night and gradually daylight decreases until the December Winter Solstice. And, so marks our cooler seasons. The food that is grown and seasonally available during autumn transitions from leafy and green; like broccoli and corn to hardy and starchy; like carrots and squash. This is reflective of what our bodies need and crave during the colder months; we want to eat warming, nourishing foods like soups, stews and casseroles. Chinese philosophy links the changing seasons and human energy beautifully. In the summer our energy is expansive and extraverted, while in the winter it contracts and closes as if to hibernate. To visualize this, imagine expansive spring and summer energy running from your toes, up your torso, over your head and down your back. While in autumn and winter it switches and runs from your heals, up your back, over your head and down to your toes in a closing down and conserving way. Similarly, the vegetables we consume during autumn and winter are generally grown under the ground (parsnips, carrots, turnips, onions, garlic) or are of a hardy nature to endure frosts and extreme cold (pumpkins, squash, leeks, kale, cabbages). Most are extremely immune boasting, (full of vitamin C, zinc, iron, calcium, potassium vitamin A and vitamin B), they are fibrous and all are nourishing and filling. Enjoy the harvest that autumn provides.
Paula is an avid writer and enjoys working with food and words.