Health & Wellness

Strengthen immune system with veggies, soup

With Covid-19 virus getting closer and closer to home I am fielding many questions regarding what to do if we catch this bug. As with other potential illnesses prevention is a key. As your mother told you back in the day … eat your vegetables!! Mothers have a great innate intelligence. The nutrients found in our vegetables help to nourish us and help us maintain our health down to a cellular level. I recently attended a favorite annual event, a Nutritional Therapy conference in Portland, and this year’s theme was appropriately titled: Thrive! We had three days full of classes and mingling with colleagues, and a huge hall with exhibitors of all things related to nutrition.
One of the exhibitors was a local entrepreneur from Eugene, Captain Soup. Actually his name is Brian, but his company name has the brothy moniker. His story is interesting. He is a career Army aviator, being deployed all over the world as he flies missions, and trains other pilots. He was hampered with debilitating chronic digestive issues for many years, and found all he could digest was soup. He supported his health by making large batches of soups whenever he was on leave, canned his soup and sent it ahead to his next duty station. Fast forward a bit … his health improved greatly and his business, Captain Soup was born.
So, you may ask … how does this story relate to Covid-19 and vegetables? You guessed it; Brian’s soups that helped him regain his health and vitality are packed with veggies! Raise your hands if you don’t eat as many veggies as you should …. let’s say a suggested 6-12 servings daily. After my visit with the Captain, I was inspired to eat more veggies, and soup is a great way for us all to sneak more veggies into our bowls. In this spirit I am sharing a favorite recipe I’ve shared in the past from a herbalist/chef colleague that is reminiscent of the soup my dad, whose family was from Lithuania, regularly simmered in our family’s soup pot.
This hearty dish, traditionally made with a meat or vegetable stock and plenty of vegetables and flavorful spices, highlights the particularly healthy … drum roll please: beets!
Beet roots (and greens) are a healthy and incredible food. They support liver health (one of our key organs of detoxification and blood-sugar balance) and are full of healthy nutrients and antioxidants. According to veggie expert Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side, (available at your local library) beets are some of the highest antioxidant (protective) foods and have nine times more antioxidants than tomatoes and fifty times more antioxidants than carrots! Beets’ unique combination of phytonutrients (plant-derived nutrients) have been shown to be especially helpful in reducing chronic inflammation and protecting us from illness. Beets also support healthy levels of nitric oxide in your system for a more flexible cardiovascular system—which for some can result in healthier blood-pressure levels, and more energy for exercising.
Beets have a special purple pigment called betalin, which strongly supports the body’s (in your Liver) Phase 2 detoxification process. Phase 2 detoxification is when the body neutralizes and removes potentially harmful substances from the body by making them water soluble and easily excreted. Beet greens are some of the healthiest greens available wherever organic produce is sold and have a similar nutrient profile to kale. If you buy beets with the greens attached you’ll know you are buying recently harvested beets, which can also have greater nutrient levels.
Here is a Beet Borscht recipe inspired by herbalist Rosalee de la Forêt. Try this recipe – which freezes well – a delicious meal and a healthier, and hopefully, virus-free you. Salud!

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