It’s time to spice up your cooking and help beat the January blues

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The recent bone chilling weather has brought with it a myriad of colds, flus and dreaded lurgies.

While succumbing to the germs is unfortunately highly inevitable there are some things we can do to prevent and suppress them. A nutrient rich diet will boost your immune system and help fight off ills.

It has been proven that popping pills to get your daily vitamin and mineral dose is a lot less effective than getting the nutrition directly from food.

At this time of year, after a period of over indulgence, we tend to talk about food negatively. We concentrate on what we shouldn’t eat, what’s “bad” and unhealthy. By worrying about what we eat, we can turn occasions of conviviality and joy into sources of fear and anxiety. “ I don’t want to eat today as I was “bad” over Christmas” is an often quoted phrase. Talk of veganuary, clean eating and hyperlocal food only exacerbates this anxiety. Instead we should be celebrating all the things that will make us feel good inside.

Ginger is a magic ingredient that adds warmth and spice to dishes but also has anti-inflammatory properties to help with joint pain. It contains gingerol, a strong antioxidant and can calm nausea and help prevent colds and flus. If you finely slice it and infuse in hot water with honey, it makes a soothing drink to ward away ills.

My first recipe is for a beef shin broth, with ginger playing a major part in the flavour profile. The finished stock is rounded off with quickly cooked noodles and shredded greens. Green vegetables are rich in vitamin A to build the body’s natural defences, vitamin C and vitamin K to help the body heal and also full of iron and potassium. Don’t overcook them – shred as finely as you can and cook only for a matter of minutes to ensure they retain their colour and natural goodness.

Zinc is vital for maintaining a healthy immune system and helps immensely with healing during and after a bout of flu or other illness. Meat, yoghurt, nuts and pulses are abundant in this mineral.

My other recipe is for yoghurt baked chicken with spices, served with rice studded with lemon, almond and chickpeas. Turmeric is added to the yoghurt marinade to add even more health giving potency to the dish. Turmeric contains curcuminoids – powerful anti inflammatories and antioxidants. It’s absorption into the bloodstream is helped with the addition of pepper – tasty and good for you.

Good food shouldn’t be a punishment and eating well needn’t be boring.

Adding spices to your cooking will pep it up, increase the nutritional value and ultimately make whatever you prepare taste better, not to mention the spring it will add to your step to beat the January blues.