Keep kids strong this winter with the best bug-busting dishes. Georgie Soskin of Cooking them Healthy shows us how…
Choosing ingredients that are rich in health-boosting antioxidants can make a real difference to your body’s ability to ward off bugs. Antioxidants are valuable nutrients, including vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene and selenium – studies have shown that these help provide us with additional immunity against colds and infections. Antioxidants also have an anti-inflammatory role within the body which means that focusing on specific foods when you are ill can make a significant difference to your recovery. Inflammation is part of the body’s natural response to an infection and plays a vital role in helping the body’s healing process. However, levels of inflammation can get out of control, leading to increased symptoms, weakened immunity and potential chronic illness. Anti-inflammatory nutrients can be used effectively to help bring the body’s immune response back into balance. Here we have chosen some brilliant store cupboard and freezer staples packed with goodies.
Garlic, onions & ginger
These all have wonderful natural bacteria-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic helps protect us against colds; the finer you chop the garlic the more pungent it becomes. Onions also have useful anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting properties. Ginger is very warming and acts as a natural decongestant. It can also have a soothing effect on digestion and nausea.
A fab source of antioxidants, traditionally spices are used for all manner of conditions, from helping to aid digestion to reducing inflammation. Don’t be afraid of introducing heat and flavour to your children’s diet. Chillies are rich in vitamins A & C which are useful immune-boosting nutrients and the capsaicin in chillies can help to clear congestion from a cold.
Vegetables such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard and pak choi (all in season over the winter) are packed with vitamins, minerals and immune-boosting antioxidants. It can be helpful to try adding just a small amount to familiar dishes; soups and sauces are also a great way of disguising greens as they can be combined with other flavours and textures.
COLD-BUSTING COCONUT AND KALE CURRY
This is not a hot curry, but has a lovely subtle heat perfect for this time of year. Turmeric contains an important compound called curcumin which has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric has a mild fragrance and vivid orange colour which instantly brings life to any dish. Cumin is a rich source of the mineral iron, which plays a key role in immune health and helps support healthy digestion.
Ingredients | Serves 4-6
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 cloves garlic, pasted or finely chopped
2cm ginger, grated
240g chickpeas – drained and rinsed or
dry chana dhal
1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes (approximately 220-250g)
1 large onion (approximately 150-180g), finely chopped
1 can coconut milk (400ml)
1 can chopped tomatoes (400ml)
1/2 mild chilli finely chopped
Heat your oil in a saucepan (that has a well fitting lid) on a medium heat and add in your chopped onions. Soften for 5 to 10 minutes and then add in your pasted garlic and ginger as well as your finely chopped chilli – cook out for a minute to lose their raw edge. Next add in all your spices and cook out for a few seconds. Heating spices brings out their flavour.
Next add in your chopped sweet potato pieces and chickpeas (or chana dhal) and coat in the spiced onion mix. Then add in the chopped tomatoes and coconut milk.
Bring up to the boil and then down to a gentle simmer.
Put the lid on and leave to simmer away for 10 minutes, remove the lid and allow the liquid to reduce to produce a thicker consistency. Continue to cook for a further 20 minutes until it has a lovely rich flavour and is a thick curry. If using chana dhal add 10 minutes to your cooking time as you want it to be soft – not chalky or al dente.
This is delicious with a dollop of natural yoghurt and fresh coriander sprinkled over the top – and you can serve with warm naan bread or pitta bread.
TIP: To check the heat of the chillies cut the tip off and test it on your tongue. The heat is in its seeds and the membrane skin running inside of the chilli, so make sure you scrape both of these out.
Ingredients | Serves 4-6
3 apples (approximately 330g)
200g mixed frozen berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, gooseberries, redcurrants all work brilliantly)
200g ground almonds
110g cold butter (chopped into small pieces or grated and kept in the fridge hard/cold)
80g light brown muscovado sugar
80g spelt flour
3 tbsp runny honey
1 tsp cornflour
Natural or Greek yogurt to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Simply place your cold chopped butter in a bowl with the ground almonds and flour and rub together with your fingers – do this in a light, quick fashion as you don’t want to warm up the butter too much and make it overly claggy. Rub through until all the butter disappears and resembles breadcrumbs – then stir through the sugar.
Place the chopped apples and blackberries into a bowl and mix through the cornflour. Scatter into the ovenproof dish (approx 9 inches by 6 inches) – deep enough for the fruit to come two thirds of the way up. Drizzle the honey over the fruit.
Sprinkle the crumble loosely over the top and place in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until bubbling around the edges and when tested with a cutlery knife the fruit feels soft and has little resistance.
Serve with a generous dollop of natural or Greek yoghurt.
TIP: You can always make up individual crumble ramekins, they look gorgeous and will freeze brilliantly before and after cooking.