How to Avoid Getting Colds This Winter
Fall is here! Can you feel the change in the air? LOVE October!
Though the Fall typically brings gorgeous sunsets, changing leaves, my birthday (hint, hint), and that wonderful crisp-air feeling, it's also the PERFECT TIME to do a TRICK I want to tell you about to avoid getting colds!
If you tend to catch colds and lung stuff in the winter season (like we do, if we don't do this) what I'm about to share with you could change all of that in a BIG way!
PLUS, I'm finally revealing my never-before-shared SECRET RECIPE (which, after this, I won't ever be able to call it that anymore...) for my most delectable soup, because it's so perfect for this time of year: Curried Yam Carrot Cashew Soup!
It's like liquid gold infused with fragrant spices that makes you feel like you just came home to yourself.
I know. A bit dramatic. Yet, oh, so true. Wait till you try it! (See recipe below.)
Here's a little background:
Every year, when autumn comes around, I fondly recall the time I spent in the Berkshires, Massachusetts, learning to cook!
It was a magical time, at the Kushi Institute, absorbing all I could about a beautiful philosophy of balance, understanding the energy of foods and how they affect our health and our emotions, being in harmony with nature and our environment, eating locally grown vegetables, and being in touch with your body, spirit and mind.
The philosophy and way of life (much more than just a diet) is called macrobiotics. You've likely heard of it.
I know, not a pretty word. Sounds so cold and scientific. Yet, it taught me so much!
Don't worry, this post is NOT about macrobiotics. Yet, it IS about some important principles I learned about, which could help you avoid getting colds in winter all together, so hang tight.
AMAZING LIFE-SAVING RESULTS
This exotic world of new foods and ideas, which originated in Japan, saved my cousin's life in the late 80's, when it was much more popular than it is today. Back then, my cousin Klarita, who was like a soul sister to me, was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoma. She was given six months to live, max.
She bravely decided to not have medical intervention (ie. chemo) and instead found something natural that seemed so foreign and strange at the time. After a few months on her strict macrobiotic regimen, the enormous tumor in her liver completely melted away!
She lived ten years.
As I witnessed her complete transformation - physically, emotionally, spiritually - I became very interested in what she was doing, so I also jumped into it with both feet.
I learned a lot. And, when autumn comes I have fond memories of that wonderful time of my life. Though I don't practice all of that any more, for some reason what I'm about to tell you really stuck with me.
I know that when we remember to do this, we get fewer colds, if we get them we get through them faster, and some winters, we can get through without a single sniffle.
The KEY thing here is: remembering to do it!
It's all about Yin and Yang.
So, here it goes. As simple as I can make it:
Think of your body as a sponge.
In the summer, when it's hot out, we tend to consume cold and wet things to balance our body temperature: ice-cream, raw salads, lots of fruit, desserts. All of that is considered YIN. It's like adding water to the sponge.
And when it's warm out, no problem. The sponge (our body) can usually hold the water quite well.
When winter comes, and it gets cold, our bodies begin to contract. That contraction is like squeezing the sponge a little.
What happens to a wet sponge when you squeeze it?
Yes! Water comes out.
Welcome runny noses, snot, coughing and phlegm!
In the winter, when our bodies contract, if we have too much Yin in our system, it's gotta come out somehow.
Getting colds is our body's natural way of cleaning itself out, of getting rid of excess Yin and get accustomed to a more contracted state brought on by cold weather.
So what can YOU do to avoid getting sick??
Here's the TRICK:
Use the fall season as a way to TRANSITION from the heat of summer to the cold of winter by selecting foods that will minimize that excess YIN!
That means: eliminating overly YIN foods and replacing them with more balanced foods, energetically. When the winter arrives, you won't have all that "water" that needs to come out. Meaning: no colds.
Still not clear. How the heck do you do that?
We tend to do that naturally. On a cold day, we'd rather have soup than salad. Stews are great, and oatmeal in the mornings feels better than fruit, right? It's pretty automatic and obvious.
So, the answer is: start letting go of yin foods now. All sugar, desserts, flour, processed foods from boxes, raw sweet fruits (especially from the tropics) and salads (you can have salads, just not on very cold days.)
Start focusing on more balanced foods, energetically, leaning toward yang. That means: root vegetable stews, soups, lightly steamed veggies, beans and legumes, brown rice and quinoa, nuts and seeds. Cooked or lightly cooked veggies vs. raw.
WHY NOT EAT YANG FOODS to balance out the YIN?
Great, logical question. Yang foods tend to make us more contracted (in excess you might get constipated.) Meats, eggs, salt are very yang foods.
The thing is, if we swing in the opposite direction - eating too many yang foods - then we create a pendulum effect, swinging from one extreme to the other, and balance is hard to achieve.
What's the best way to create balance?
From a macro perspective, eating foods that are inherently balanced, creates balance. These are: vegetables (from above and below ground), beans and legumes, sea vegetables (like Nori - the green stuff around sushi rolls) whole grains, soups, etc.
Yes, it requires a degree of mindfulness to remember to do this. Yet, once you get into it, it's doable.
NOTE: It goes without saying that it's important to do all the other things we all know about to stay well: exercise, drink lots of purified water, wash your hands often, do things that make you happy, sleep well, rest.
Being mindful of transitioning during the fall, letting go of yin foods and embracing balanced foods could make a big difference to your health in the winter.
Try it! You'll thank me in the Spring!
Any questions? Please COMMENT BELOW.
Would LOVE to know other things you've discovered to help us all avoid colds in winter. Ways to strengthen our immune system, etc.
To make things easier for you this fall... as promised:
MY SECRET RECIPE!
Curried Yam Carrot Cashew Soup!
This soup is beyond fabulous, and very easy to make. It will go over so well at your gatherings, it will turn you into a celebrity!
You'll steam or cook the ingredients in one big pot till they get soft. Add to blender or Vitamix with water. Return to pot and let it simmer with spices.
Easy and delicious. And a PERFECT way to bring your body into a state of balance and transition into the winter months.
3 - 4 yams
10-12 carrots (medium size)
1 purple onion
1 inch of ginger root
1 c. raw, unsalted cashews
6 - 8 c. water
1 tbsp. yellow curry powder
1/2 tsp. ginger powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. coconut oil
dash of good quality salt (sea salt or Himalayan)
garnish with slivered almonds, cilantro or parsley
PREP: Do this first, so it's ready when you finish doing the other stuff...
Boil 2 cups water. Place raw cashews in a bowl. Add boiled water. Let soak. (Throw water out in the end... don't use in soup.)
Cut onion into small chunks
Place in pot with coconut oil, medium heat.
Let the onion get transparent, stirring from time to time.
Peel carrots and yams.
Cut them into small chunks.
When onion is transparent, add yams, carrots and ginger to pot.
Stir to coat with sweet onion.
Add dash of good quality salt (this brings out natural sweetness!)
After a couple minutes, add 3-4 cups water.
Bring to boil, then low and cover.
When carrots and yams are soft, remove from heat.
Add to blender carefully with enough liquid to blend together.
Low, to medium to high. (Make sure blender is covered to not burn yourself.)
As you blend one small batch at a time, pour into a second large soup pot.
Keep blending and return the blended batch to the large pot.
IMPORTANT: Add soaked cashews to one of the batches. This makes the soup so rich and creamy!
NOTE: Add water as you need it. We want a thickish, smooth soup. Not too runny!
When it's all back in the pot, add curry powder, ginger powder and cinnamon.
Let is simmer on low for about 15-20 minutes (careful! It will bubble, so make sure it's covered.)
Ta-da! All done!
Decorate with slivered almonds, and a bit of cilantro, or parsley, or sliced chives.
Here it is again, for inspiration!
THANKS for reading!
Please COMMENT BELOW with any questions, or especially, with other ideas that have helped YOU stay healthy during winter months, build immunity and all that good stuff.
Sending LOVE your way, as always.
Eli (and Joseph - who adores this soup.)