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Sore throat? Honey is a soothing influence. Chicken soup and vegetables also help with the sniffles.
NewsTribune photo illustration/Tracey MacLeod
Old-fashioned chicken-vegetable soup
Sometimes mom’s medicine is the best medicine
2 T olive oil 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4-inch pieces 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 onion, chopped 4 cups chicken broth 3/4 lb. green beans cut into 2-inch lengths (about 1 1/2 cups) 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen and thawed corn kernels 1 red bell pepper, chopped 1 rib celery, chopped 1 small zucchini, quartered lengthwise and slice 4 springs thyme 1/4 t. salt 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper 1/4 c. loosely packed celery leaves 2 T chopped fresh parsley
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the garlic and onion. Cook, stirring often, for 8 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
Add the broth, beans, corn, bell pepper, celery, zucchini, thyme, salt and black pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes or until the beans are tender. Remove and discard the thyme; stir in the celery leaves and parsley.
Makes four servings.
Serve anytime, but particularly good for seasonal colds and flu since it helps ease congestion.
Sniffling, coughing and runny noses are pretty common this year and family nurse practitioner Judy McConville has seen many of those cases in people both young and old.
After the flu shot, she also recommends people use some common sense when fighting seasonal illnesses.
“Do all your basic stuff: push fluids, antihistamines, decongestants, cough syrup and gargle with salt water,” she said. And stay home.
“It’s very important, I tell these young people, ‘Don’t be a martyr and go to work,’” she said. “The virus is spread by coughing, sneezing and even talking.”
A visit to the drug store might also yield a few natural remedies that studies increasingly show provide some powerful symptom relief while boosting immune systems. While there, she suggests picking up a good multivitamin with plenty of vitamins A and C to supplement the vitamins found in fresh fruits and vegetables.
One of the best ways to stay healthy at this time of year is to get enough rest and eat a proper diet.
“I tell people to eat a diet that includes the rainbow: all the fruits and vegetables,” she said.
If the sniffles start anyway, there are some alternative treatments to try. McConville said there are scientific studies into everything from chicken soup to zinc for relief from seasonal colds.
In her experience, simple remedies actually work.
Sore throat? Try honey, she said. Honey has antibiotic properties while also coating and soothing the throat. Echinacea and goldenseal taken together are proving to be strong cold and flu fighters that boost the body’s ability to fight off bacteria and viruses.
Another immune booster is the herb astragalus. McConville said this ancient Chinese remedy is attracting new attention for its ability to strengthen the body’s resistance to disease. At the other end of the alphabet is zinc. McConville said this mineral is found in over-the-counter lozenges that also help fight upper respiratory infections.
While herbal medicine is getting a new look, McConville said products such as ibuprofen should remain in the medicine cabinet when the flu strikes.
“The (flu) virus gets into our systems and it likes to get into the cell and take over so it can multiply,” McConville said. “That’s why the body aches and the (patient) is so tired because the virus is reproducing.”
Ibuprofen remains the best remedy for those body and muscle aches along with plenty of fluids and rest. Flu is often accompanied by fever, but low-grade fevers shouldn’t prompt an immediate call to a health care provider. McConville said fevers of 102 degrees or more can be treated with products such as Tylenol, but if they don’t respond to treatment, then it’s time to see a health care professional.
She also advises making a trip to a clinic or physician’s office if a cold or flu lasts longer than 10-14 days.
Upper respiratory infections can settle into the lungs as bronchitis or a head cold could turn into sinusitis. McConville said thick, green secretions are a good sign that it’s time for a visit to the doctor’s office.
When you go to the doctor, clinic or anywhere, she said dressing appropriately is the first advice she can give.
“That’s my biggest pet peeve,” she said. “Wear shoes, socks, hats and gloves and parents need to make sure their children are dressed appropriately. In the middle of winter, bare skin should not be exposed.”