Winter without the flu

Each year we go into winter knowing that there’s always a chance that we will get sick.  The level of sickness will always depend on how healthy and robust our immune system is.  This year seemed to be one of the worst in a while in terms of the degree of sickness in our community.  It seemed everyone that I talked to had Influenza A or some other form of it.  There was also a lot of gastro and a coughing illness where you lost your voice initially and then experienced a dry cough thereafter in some cases for more than a month.

Is it possible to get through Winter without getting sick?  I think so, in fact I know so.  I must say I was worried this year as I have felt more run down than usual with a higher level of challenges that I am facing this year.  But guess what?  I didn’t get Influenza A or the common cold.  I did get the lose your voice and then cough but other than those symptoms I was completely fine, I didn’t feel sick, I just couldn’t talk properly for a couple of days.  My daughter was the same, apart from a little cough at one stage, she went through Winter in a great state of health.

I honestly attribute this to the fact that we use chicken stock constantly.  I mean constantly.  Together we would consume over 1L per week and it’s made weekly.  We have a bit of a tradition of a roast chicken every weekend and once all the meat is pulled off we throw the frames in a pot with whatever left over veg we can find (celery, broccoli stems, carrot, onion, parsley, garlic), a good amount of salt, filtered water, a capful of apple cider vinegar and we brew it for sometimes 40 hours.

Once we’ve brewed it significantly, I drain the stock from the bones and veg and then store it in the fridge.  How I use the stock looks like this:

  • I’ll drink a cup for breakfast or before dinner;
  • I’ll use it as a soup, make and bake some meatballs, cook some chopped veg in the stock and then serve it with noodles, meatballs and garnished with fresh chilli, coriander, a dash of olive oil and some lemon juice;
  • I’ll bake vegetables in the stock, simply grab a baking tin and slice up some onion or leek, sweet potato, potato, capsicum, pumpkin, carrot, zucchini – whatever you have really and line the veg in the pan then pour some stock over bringing it to about an inch level.  You can then throw some chicken thighs or lamb cutlets on the top if you like.  Bake for around 20-30 minutes.  These veg can be served on their own with a salad or with protein.  You’ll find the stock will reduce and caramelise the veg;
  • I make the stock into a curry and use a lot of veg (I generally do this Wednesday night and use up all the leftover week’s veg readying the fridge for the fresh load of veg each Thursday);
  • If I’m frying veg up for breakfast I’ll decant the pan with leftover stock; or
  • I’ll slow cook some meat in it for use in lunch boxes, taco’s, curries, the list is endless really

I only use good quality chicken that I know has been raised ethically and as organically as possible.  It must be remembered that food can only give you what itself has had.  Therefore if food is being grown in depleted conditions, it can’t give you much, simple really.  It’s about getting good quality ingredients to aid you in excellent health.  If you’re not up for a whole chicken then you can simply buy the frames really cheaply.  I have them for about $7.80/kg and you’ll find that there is still a great amount of meat on them for your soup.

It’s been said that homemade broth has a reputation for curing what ails you and I think that reputation is well deserved.  It’s been such a rejuvenating force in my life.  Science has validated these claims proving that rich homemade chicken broths:

  • help cure colds
  • contain minerals in the form that our body easily recognises – think calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur & trace minerals;
  • contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons – being glucosamine – now sold as a supplement for arthritis & joint pain
  • contains gelatin which is useful in the treatment of peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice & cancer.  Gelatin also facilitates digestion as it attracts and hold liquids thereby attracting digestive juices to food in the gut.

We drink stock all through Summer and Autumn, Spring as well.  Not every week but at least every fortnight in the hotter months because I believe it is integral to good health, year round.  Plus, if we get sick, I know that I have medicine on hand.

In Australia, we are heading out of the colder months now but don’t let that stop you, it’s a good time to perfect your stock and then by next Winter, you’ll have the habit and skills already up your sleeve.  What can you lose?  Nothing.  What can you gain? Enhanced health 🙂