It’s Queen’s Birthday holiday today in New Zealand and thank goodness, the sun is shining. I’m sitting in a sunny room writing this post, sheltered from the icy wind blasting up from Antarctica. Yesterday wasn’t so sunny and I spent the day huddled over a steaming bowl of Vicks trying to clear my sinuses. It made me think about how I could avoid the dreaded flu. “How about wearing some warm clothes and shutting the windows?”, my family and friends would immediately retort. “That might help!” It’s true; I’m not a good cold weather person.
So my plan today is to make chicken noodle soup. It’s just what you feel like when you’re not so well – and I’ll be throwing in lots of garlic and ginger to combat those nasty viruses. Eating chicken soup for a cold is an old wives’ tale that really works. Scientists have found that real chicken soup – not from a can or sachet – really does have anti-viral effects. Today I’m taking the easy option – opening a carton of ready-made chicken stock and throwing in the healthy extras – sliced chicken, garlic, ginger, mushrooms, spring onions, kaffir lime leaf, lemon juice, noodles and mint.
3 skinless chicken breasts, cut in large chunks
1 onion, cut in chunks
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons harissa
2 carrots, sliced thickly
1 red capsicum, sliced thickly
4 pieces preserved lemon, sliced finely
400g can chick peas
500 ml reduced salt chicken stock
1 punnet cherry tomatoes
3 tablespoons finely chopped coriander or parsley
In a large casserole dish place chicken, onion, garlic, harissa, carrots, capsicum, preserved lemon, chickpeas and stock. Bake in oven at 170C for 1 hour or simmer on stove for 1 hour. Remove lid, add tomatoes and cook a further 20 minutes.Stir through coriander just before serving.Serve with couscous.
1.5 cups couscous
1.5 cups water or stock
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup toasted almonds, chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander or mint
Place couscous in a bowl. Add boiling water or stock. Stand for a few minutes. Fluff up with a fork. Add currants, almonds and coriander or mint.
These bran muffins (adapted from a recipe by Alison Holst) are super filling – a great snack when you are trying to control your weight. Enjoy these muffins with a cup of tea but don’t expect to absorb any iron – both bran and tea bind iron and reduce its absorption. If you are concerned about iron, keep these for in between meals. I like to use up any over-ripe bananas in this recipe. Mash 1 or 2 and throw them in!
2 cups wheat bran
1/2 cup flour
Date scones are quick and easy but not exactly nutritious. Too bad! Ever heard the saying, “A problem shared is a problem halved”? What could be better for your emotional health than sharing your thoughts, feelings and frustrations with a good friend, a date scone and a cup of tea!
3 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
40-50g butter (I use dairy spread: half butter, half canola oil)
1/2 cup dates, chopped
1 – 1.5 cups reduced fat milk
Mix flour and baking powder. Rub in butter. Add dates. Stirring with a knife, add enough milk to make a dough. Pat out on a floured board to about 3-4 cm thick. Cut into squares. Place on greased oven tray. Brush with a little milk (the sugar in the milk caramelises to make the tops go golden). Bake at 210C for 10-15 minutes. To check if they are cooked, tap the bottom; they should sound hollow.