Tonight we’re decorating the apartment for Christmas!! This means listening to Christmas tunes, bringing out all the old decorations filled with so many happy memories, and watching a Christmas movie to finish off the night! It is the perfect break from studying for exams AND it makes the exam period way more manageable when I wake up to a cheery and festive apartment every morning 🙂 ALSO Sunday is December 1st, which means the beginning of my advent calendar!!!
It is very hard to find a gluten free/dairy free advent calendar but luckily David’s Tea has the perfect solution – a tea advent calendar!!! I can’t wait to have a delicious new tea to drink every morning for the next month!
If you haven’t already guessed, I absolutely love Christmas!! But, as much as I love Christmas and winter in general, it can be completely ruined if you get struck by a cold or flu at this time of year.
Since I am learning so many ways to boost your immune system and ward off those annoying colds and flus, I thought I would share a few of my favourite ideas with you!
The warming socks treatment is by far my favourite at-home remedy! They can be used to give your immune system a little extra boost any time you start to feel that achy, sick feeling coming on. They are also
amazing at removing any nose/head congestion. As soon as you start to feel your nose getting a little sniffly, make sure you add wet socks to your bedtime routine!
Here’s how you use them:
- Make sure your feet are nice and warm! A good way to do this is by putting your feet in a warm footbath for about five minutes. This should make them feel toasty warm and will also help you feel more relaxed. Who doesn’t love a footbath?? It also works just to have warm socks on before you start the treatment. It is just really important that your feet don’t feel chilled!!
- Take a pair of thin cotton socks and wet them with cold water. Wring them out so they are damp but not dripping wet. Make sure they are as cold as you can tolerate!! The more of acontrast between your hot feet and the cold socks, the better the treatment will work.
- Put the wet socks on your feet and then put wool socks overtop (making sure to completely cover the wet socks with the dry ones).
- Go to bed!
- You can leave them on all night and the wet socks will slowly dry and your feet will start to feel nice and toasty warm! If you don’t like the idea of sleeping with them all night, make sure to leave them on long enough that the wet sock is completely dry and warm.
The contrast between hot and cold will encourage increased circulation to the feet and throughout the body. This can help get rid of nose/head congestion by drawing blood/fluid away from the head and towards the feet. This treatment also has an overall relaxing and warming effect!
Another great way to stay healthy during the cold winter months is to drink tea! Staying hydrated is very important for your body to function optimally. Every cell in your body needs the correct balance of water to perform its proper functions and your immune cells are no different. Your skin and mucous membranes (mouth, nose, GI tract) are important physical barriers against infection and they need moisture to maintain these barriers and keep the bacteria out. Once you have a cold and you’re trying to get rid of it, keeping hydrated helps your mucus stay thin so your body has an easier time getting it out of you!
There are a ton of herbs that make delicious teas and can be really helpful for keeping you happy, healthy and warm through the winter! Some great herbs are:
Ginger: Ginger is a magical herb. It has helped me immensely with my digestive symptoms so if your sickness involves any nausea/vomiting, ginger will definitely do the trick. It can also work to fight off colds and flus by stimulating circulation, as well as helping with a fever. Fevers can be important for the elimination of bacteria and the warming properties of ginger will help the fever do its job. It is also just a warm, feel-good tea to be drinking when it’s chilly outside!
Peppermint: Peppermint is amazing too! It is antibacterial, as well as a decongestant. Drinking a steaming cup of peppermint tea will instantly start to relieve any irritation and congestion!
Licorice: Licorice is a demulcent, which means it is wonderful for soothing an irritated throat. It also helps your body get rid of mucus, decrease inflammation, and deal with stress (this can be the stress of fighting off a sickness, or the stress in your life that may have caused the sickness!). Herbs that help your body cope with stress, such as licorice, are called adaptogens. Since stress can weaken your immune system, adaptogens can be a great way to boost your immune system by decreasing your stress levels.
It is really easy to find teas with ginger and peppermint in them, and licorice is also in a surprising number of teas, especially ayurvedic blends. David’s Tea North African Mint has all three of these herbs and it is a delicious, warming tea to drink through the winter! Another favourite tea of mine is David’s Tea Cold 911. It has peppermint, juniper berries (which have antimicrobial properties), orange peel, and eucalyptus and orange oils. Breathe in the steam from this tea and you’ll feel your congestion melt away immediately! Finally, Traditional Medicinals makes a tea called Cold Formula and it has magical abilities to help you fight off a cold or flu ASAP.
A great way to add health benefits to your tea when you’ve got a cold and/or sore throat is to add honey to your tea! Honey is antimicrobial, which means it can help the body get rid of any invading bacterial or viral infections. It is also anti-inflammatory, which will help soothe a sore throat.
Another trick I used last year to stay hydrated and healthy was to start each morning off by drinking warm water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed into it. My ND suggested drinking lemon water as a way to help with my digestive concerns because lemon water can help kick-start the digestive system in the morning but it has so many other benefits too! Most importantly, we usually wake up dehydrated and this will help re-hydrate you right away. Lemons are high in vitamin C, they can prevent the growth of bacteria and they assist the liver in eliminating toxins.
Finally, my most important piece of advice is to make sure you eat well!! The immune system can only function properly if you are taking care of your body – it is SO important to stay hydrated and eat lots of healthy, nutrient dense foods.
Winter squash is an amazing option! It becomes harder to get a lot of fresh veggies in the winter but this is when squash and root veggies are at their peak of deliciousness. Squash is high in vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, fiber, and so many other nutrients. And it is DELICIOUS!
A recipe that I really enjoyed making so far this year is Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese!!! Mac and cheese used to be my all-time favourite meal! Kraft dinner was definitely a consistent staple in my diet in high school. It was so easy to make and so delicious, especially with some added tuna and peas! Now that I am eating gluten and lactose free, kraft dinner is sadly not an option anymore. However, this is probably a blessing in disguise considering I don’t think I could look my classmates in the eye if I brought kraft dinner to school for lunch!! This is why I was ecstatic to discover this new delicious butternut squash mac and cheese recipe!! It is packed full of nutritious foods and it is WAY more flavourful than any boxed mac and cheese I have ever tried.
BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC ‘n CHEEZE (Vegan, Gluten-free, Nut-Free)
– 1 butternut squash (Only use 1 cup of it for the cheeze sauce)
– Olive oil, salt, pepper
– 1 tbsp earth balance (or butter)
– ¾ cup lactose free milk or almond milk
– 1 tbsp arrowroot powder
– 6 tbsp nutritional yeast
– ½ tbsp lemon juice
– ½ tsp salt and black pepper
– Pasta of choice (Iused gluten free pasta)
– Swiss chard (or whatever mix-in you would like to add)
- Roast butternut squash at 425F for about 40 minutes
- Peel and chop the squash into cubes
- Coat with olive oil, salt, and pepper
- Place cubes into a casserole dish (lined with tin foil)
- Prepare cheeze sauce
- In a pot on the stove top, add earth balance and melt over low-medium heat.
- In a bowl, whisk milk and arrowroot powder together to get rid of any lumps and then add it to the pot and stir.
- Stir in nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
- Whisk over low heat until the sauce thickens slightly (about five minutes)
- The recipe also says to add Dijon mustard, onion, and garlic. I don’t add these and it still tastes delicious but they would definitely be a good addition if you tolerate onion and garlic.
- Prepare mix-ins (I have only added swiss chard but I think you could add almost any veggie!)
- Wash and cut swiss chard into pieces
- Heat some olive oil in a frying pan and cook the swiss chard to your liking (I cook mine for about 5 minutes).
- Cook pasta according to the package directions.
- When the squash is done roasting, add 1 cup of squash and the cheeze sauce to your blender and blend until smooth.
- In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta and cheeze sauce/butternut squash mixture and mix until the pasta is coated with the sauce. Then, add the mix-ins. You can also add any left-over roasted squash.
- And you’re done!! Enjoy it warm or put it in the fridge so you have pre-prepared dinner for yourself all week 🙂
Adapted from: http://ohsheglows.com/2011/10/03/butternut-squash-mac-n-cheeze/
I hope some of these tips are helpful to you and that you have a happy and healthy winter season!!