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Eat this, cure that!
Stock your pantry with these powerful healers

Photos by Dan Bishop

February 2014

With winter upon us with its shortened days and frigid temperatures, we are prime targets for seasonal ailments. But you donít have to see a doctor to cure what ails you. Instead, stock your pantry with a few key items that can provide a quick cure, says Katie Merriman, a registered dietitian and clinical nutrition coordinator at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center.

Symptom: Dry Skin

Cure: Celery or Cucumbers

Staying hydrated from theinside out is the key to healthy skin. Eating high-water-content foods, such as celery or cucumbers, will help. Dip veggies in hummus or nut butter for a low-calorie, high-protein snack. For variety, you can swap them out for radishes, tomatoes or broccoli. Fruits such as watermelon, oranges and grapefruit will do the trick as well.

Symptom: Sore Throat

Cure: Honey

Honey has long been used for medicinal purposes. During the winter months when sore throats are common, itís smart to have honey in the cupboard for symptom management. Mix 1 tablespoon of honey into a hot cup of a tea for fast-acting sore throat relief. It may even help suppress that nagging cough. Do not give children younger than 12 months honey because of the risk of infant botulism.

Symptom: Feeling Cold

Cure: Chili Powder or Cayenne Pepper

Teas, coffee, soups and cocoas will warm you up, but to really add some heat keep chili powder or cayenne pepper on hand. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in both spices, causes an increase in internal body temperature and keeps us warm on cold winter nights. Chili is an obvious vehicle, but try stirring some spices into your morning eggs or sprinkling them on thinly sliced sweet potatoes for flavorful baked sweet potato chips. Symptom: Weak Immune System

Cure: Winter Squash

Readily available during winter months, squash is an excellent source of vitamin C and fiber and a good source of potassium. Vitamin C and fiber both have cancer preventative properties, and potassium can combat the actions of sodium in the body and help to lower blood pressure. Squash also contains high amounts of beta-carotene and alpha-carotene, antioxidants that promote a healthy immune system.

Slice any variety of squash in half and roast in the oven until soft. Remove skin, dice the flesh of the squash and toss in olive oil and cracked black pepper for an easy side dish. Squash also makes an excellent topping for a winter kale salad. Also try replacing traditional pasta with spaghetti squash in your favorite pasta dish.

Symptom: The Winter Blues

Cure: Canned Salmon

Canned salmon is a great item to have in your pantry because itís a good source of vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, shown to enhance brain function and improve mood. Vitamin D is hard to come by in Wisconsinís winter months and the bones in canned fish contain lots of vitamin D. The omega-3s also can help ward off other winter ailments.

You can top a Nicoise salad with canned salmon or make salmon tacos with corn tortillas, salsa, arugula and guacamole.


This story ran in the February 2014 issue of: