We still have a lot to learn about the healing powers of food. But this much we know:
Chicken soup can help clear nasal clog. Ginger seems to settle stomachs. Dark greens such as spinach are loaded with vitamins A and C. And salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have an anti-inflammatory effect. Quite simply, a well-nourished immune system is better able to ward off infections.
Mothers are celebrated (if sometimes vilified) for their eagerness to advise their children on matters big and small: how to behave, what to wear, whom to marry, when to have kids ... and, oh yes, how to stay healthy during cold and flu season.
Does science back up what Dr. Mom told you about the common cold? Or was she full of hot air? Here's what real doctors have to say about 10 familiar cold-busting tips:
So eat healthy this winter. And enjoy these recipes from the kitchen of Dr. Charlotte Mathis.
Charlotte's Chicken Soup
1 chicken, cut into 8-10 pieces (remove skin, leave bone in)
8 cups of chicken broth (homemade is preferable, but unsalted, low-fat boxed or canned is fine.**) 3 large cloves of garlic, chopped 1/2 cup chopped onion 2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced 2 celery stalks, sliced
(If your children won't eat the above vegetables, you may leave them out.) 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles or 1 cup uncooked long grain rice 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley 2 tablespoons fresh thyme or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
Pat chicken parts dry. Season pieces with salt and pepper. Brown chicken parts in a heavy Dutch oven with 1 teaspoon of canola oil over medium-high heat for about 6-8 minutes, turning once.
Add chicken broth to the pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; cover partially and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. Cool chicken and broth slightly. Discard bones from chicken. Cut or pull apart chicken meat into bite-sized pieces and reserve.
Spoon fat off top of chicken broth. Return broth to simmer. Add onion, carrots, celery, and thyme. Simmer until vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead, but be sure to store broth and meat separately in the fridge.)
Stir in noodles, parsley, and reserved chicken. Simmer until noodles are tender, about 5 minutes. If using rice, simmer until rice is done. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls and garnish if you like with parsley.
** Canned soup can be made to taste more homemade by simmering it for about 45 minutes with a couple of celery stalks, carrots, half of an onion chopped, a bit of garlic, some peppercorns, and a bay leaf. Strain before using.