My five top foods for beating the winter ills and chills

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Winter chills have descended on us once again. Record numbers of people seem to have the flu and/or a cough/chest infection so it’s time to stock up on healthy foods that will build your immune system and warm you up without piling on winter weight.

Oh, and go get that flu shot NOW! It’s not too late.

  1. Citrus fruit – Oranges, mandarins, lemon, grapefruit and tangelos are cheap and plentiful over winter and represent one of the best ways to look after your health. They are chock full of vitamin C, folate and potassium, as well as natural antioxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids.  Eat a piece of juicy, whole, citrus fruit every day. And remember juice just isn’t the same!
  2. Soup – Jewish folklore says that chicken soup reduces fever and relieves colds and flu. It seems there’s lots to be said for soup’s therapeutic powers. Researchers have discovered that any hot soup increases the flow of nasal secretions which may prevent the cold virus from penetrating further. Inhaling the vapour from a bowl of soup also helps clear congestion.
  3. Potatoes – Often maligned as “too fattening”, potatoes are, in fact, a perfect winter food. Just don’t drown them in butter or cream or turn them into fried chips. Potatoes are a low-fat food, valued for their starchy carbohydrate, vitamin C and fibre.
  4. Slow-cooked dinners  – Dice your meat or chicken, gently cook some onion, carrot and celery, add stock or a slurp of wine and you’re on your way to a delicious meal-in-one pot. Oh, and don’t forget to add some legumes for a really hearty meal. Refrigerate your creation overnight so you can skim off any solidified fat from the surface the next day. If you cook in bulk and store portions in the refrigerator or freezer, you’ll always have something quick and easy to re-heat at night. What’s more, the flavour improves with time.
  5. Beans and more beans – Winter is the ideal time to cook dried bean, peas and lentils. They produce wonderful soups and hearty one-pot meals – a handful of beans in a hot-pot of lean meat makes the meat go further and boosts the carbohydrate and fibre value.  Whether you buy kidney beans, lima, soya, haricot, black-eye or broad beans, all have virtually no fat, are rich in soluble fibre and B vitamins, and provide protein for vegetarians. If pre-soaking and boiling daunts you, try canned or quick-cook beans or use lentils which require no soaking.

Reproduced with permission of Catherine Saxelby, Accredited Nutritionist at

You might also like the recipe for  Life Saving Lentil Soup

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