How to beat the February Blues

If you’re suffering from a cold, it can seem that the only thing keeping you going is a bag of lozenges and an ever increasing stack of tissues. But there is actually quite a lot that we can do to help shorten these troublesome times.

Apple Cider Vinegar Tea
2 tablespoons of ACV
1 tablespoon of honey
A little lemon juice for taste
A little hot water to dilute (but the more potent it is the better it works!)
Sip and/or Gargle with the tea 3 or 4 times a day
ACV has been around for many, many years. Traditional uses include cleaning, disinfecting, treating nail fungus, lice, warts and ear infections. It can lower blood sugar levels, fight diabetes lower cholesterol and help improve heart health. Some even say it may have positive effects against cancer. I’m not so sure we can believe everything we read on the internet but it certainly helps cure a cold; even if it is one of the worst things I’ve ever gulped and gargled my way through.

Ginger Tea
2 teaspoons of freshly grated ginger steeped in a mug of hot water.
Ginger is brilliant for clearing an inflammation, clearing congestion and supporting the immune system.

Vitamin C & D
Vitamin C has long been known to support the immune system and help to fight off colds. Fruits and veggies high in vitamin C include oranges, kiwis, bell peppers, strawberries, dark leafy greens, and broccoli and of course those winter favourites – sprouts. Vitamin D will help you not get a cold in the first place – sunlight and fish oils are the best for this.

Eucalyptus Oil
4 or 5 drops of eucalyptus oil in a bowl filled with boiling water and a tea towel draped over the head is one of my reoccurring nightmares of boarding school. But repeated twice a day it definitely helps you breath better.

Honey is most definitely a super-food. Full of antioxidants, honey has antiviral and antibacterial properties. It can boost your immune system, sooth a sore throat and clear a cough. It’s also brilliant for hay fever sufferers, but again it must be local. The theory being that the bees need to have been feeding on the local pollen that is causing your hayfever to help your body build up a resistance to your local pollens.

As cooks we can take this on to another level by the introduction of spices to our cooking.

All spice, clove & nutmeg all contain essential oils that act as a mild antimicrobial agent, good for the good bacteria in the gut. Chillies contain more vitamin C than an orange. Garlic is well known to help maintain a healthy circulation, balance blood sugars and improve resistance to infection. Turmeric is traditionally known for its anti-inflammatory effects, but it also has antibacterial and digestive properties, killing yeast and parasites within the gut.

The list goes on and on, but it’s safe to say that eating a rainbow of colours will most defiantly be beneficial to your health.


Did you know that you can more than double the benefits of a tomato if you choose baby plum over beef and leave them on your counter top rather than in the fridge? It all comes down to the level of phytonutrients which are just under the skin and need sunshine.

Leafy Greens
Kale has 40 times the level of vitamin C and 30 times the level of vitamin K than an iceberg lettuce! Why? Because dark green leafy veg are packed with antioxidant pigments which act as a kind of sunscreen and help protect the plant from harmful free radicals, helping protect the plant cells from damage … however … when we eat these dark green leaves the same antioxidant pigments are transferred to our bodies and continue to do the same job, helping mop up the free radicals and shield our eyes from UV damage.

The cabbage family are nutritional superstars, providing calorie for calorie more vitamin A & C and Folic acid than any other fruit or veg. Brussels sprouts have 5 times the potentially cancer fighting glucosinolates than cauliflowers, and whilst broccoli doesn’t score very well on this type of glucosinolates, it’s one of the best heart-healthy crucifers alongside kale.

When buying spuds from the supermarket they will probably have been stored for many months, sometimes almost a year – but, this isn’t a bad thing – the phytonutrients in a potato actually increase dramatically over time as the spuds start churning out these protective compounds to defend themselves against the chill of a cold store. Add to this that 50% of the polyphenols come from the fibre rich skin then the smaller the potato the more skin they have. So by choosing new potatoes over bakers and then eating the skin, technically an indigestible fibre, the speed at which our bodies can absorb the carbohydrate slows significantly and so lowers the GI of the Potato.

Did you know that mushrooms are biologically more closely related to animals than they are to plants? Fungi have a huge range of nutritional benefits – they are a rare non-animal source of selenium and vitamin D2, whilst also being rich in specific types of fibre, which have a profound effect on our immune system and blood pressure. However doing one simple thing can transform these beauties. Just leave them on a sunny windowsill for an hour or two and the vitamin D level skyrockets by over 800% as they defend themselves from UV. Placing them gill side up (their most sensitive side) will trigger the strongest spike.

I could go on and on with this topic as I find it totally fascinating, but usually by now the deli girls’ eyes are starting to glaze over, or they discreetly check their watches so I’ll stop for now and leave the fruits etc for another day.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s