It’s almost here; the holidays begin in about three weeks with Thanksgiving, unless of course you have kids and it began last week with Halloween. I always think of Punxsutawney Phil this time of year. If I eat a Reese’s cup on Halloween, there will be 8 more weeks of sugar cravings. If I pace myself and not begin the food gorging until Thanksgiving, I’m three weeks closer to the light at the end of the tunnel, January 1st, the day when most of us commit to a healthier lifestyle.
I do though feel it’s important to enjoy the great food, the great parties, the holiday lights, and the holiday laughs. Do not deprive yourself of every “no-no” – just don’t overdue it. During the holidays, most of us tend to eat too much, drink too much, shop too much, and do too much. We sleep too little, we exercise too little, we breathe too little and most of all we run ourselves into the ground. Every year we say next year will be different, and every year by New Years we are overtired, overworked, overwhelmed, overweight and oh so over the holidays. Sound familiar?
Since this goes on for most of us every year, I feel as though there’s little point of introducing you this week to a healthy Kale and Quinoa Soup. I’ll save that for January when we need to detox and purify our systems. For right now I’ll teach you about one of the healthiest ways to boost your immune system. Bring on the Mushrooms.
Here’s the scoop.
- Used in China and Japan for centuries to boost immunity and fight many other diseases.
- Most medicinal of earth’s natural substances.
- May help fight ailments ranging from infection to cancer.
- Contain potent compounds that may help reduce cholesterol and lower blood pressure.
- These compounds provide antiviral, antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Good source of B Vitamins, fiber and protein.
- Good source of antioxidants which may attack free radicals.
- Shiitake – known as the “Royal Mushroom.” It was the type of mushroom that was saved for royalty because of its abundant nutritional properties.
Contains antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
- Maitake – aka “hen of the woods” has been used to ease the effects of chemotherapy.
- Oyster Mushroom – shaped like a fan. May lower cholesterol by inhibiting an enzyme that’s key to cholesterol synthesis.
- Morels – provide 7 amino acids.
- Portobello and Cremini (baby portobello’s) – offer a good source of potassium.
- White Button Mushrooms – good source of antioxidants.
Here’s an easy way to boost your immune system by making this super simple mushroom side dish.
Recipe courtesy of Jeff Crump and Bettina Schormann, Earth to Table
Seasonal Recipes from an Organic Farm, 2009
Serves 4 as a side dish
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 cups sliced wild mushrooms (such as chanterelle, shiitake, oyster or morels)
2 tbsp water
¼ cup unsalted butter
2 tbsp minced shallots
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add oil and wait for 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and water. Cook, without stirring, until mushrooms are crispy and golden, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, shallots, thyme, chives and garlic. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Once you know how to make this dish, you can use it as a topping for fish, poultry, or meat. To make it a vegetarian meal, add it to pasta, vegetables or your favorite grain.
The roasted mushrooms also make a fabulous sandwich on crusty bread with a slice of fresh mozzarella cheese.
So now with this one new recipe, you can make at least 6 different meals to boost your immunity.
Here I’ve made the Pan-Roasted Mushrooms with wild and cultivated mushrooms. I used shiitake and oyster (wild) and cremini and white button (cultivated). I also reduced the butter by half, using only 4 tbsp rather than 8 tbsp (1/4 cup) as suggested. I find it still has the same rich mouth feel and decadence as with the added butter.
Medicine Cabinet Makeover
For most of the Function posts, I’ll address ways for you to de-clutter your home, office, and mind. But since I’m sure the last thing you want to do this week is organize your dress shirts by color and collar (yes, we will do that at some point; stay tuned), let’s tackle an area that can be done rather quickly. You’ll be done in less than 30 minutes and you’ll feel great when you’re finished. And the added bonus is if you’re having out-of-town guests staying at your home over the holidays, your medicine cabinets will look awesome. You do know that guests will snoop, don’t you?
Here we go.
Empty everything out of your medicine cabinet.
If you have removable shelves, remove them.
Wash the shelves with hot, soapy water. Rinse, and dry. Repeat with all shelves.
If you have permanent shelves, wipe shelves with a hot, soapy wash cloth. Rinse, dry and repeat with all shelves.
Wipe the base and sides of medicine cabinet of all residue, debris, and unknown substances.
Replace the shelves. Stand back and admire your work. You did a great job. Now go on to Step 5.
Look at your pile of lotions, creams, bottles, tubes, and medicine bottles.
Separate the meds from the cosmetics.
If the drug has expired and you plan to dispose of it, remember, DO NOT flush your unused drugs down the toilet or put liquids in your drain. Some components of these drugs will wind up in lakes, streams, and water supplies. Our wastewater is treated by the local sewage facility, but water treatment plants are not able to remove all parts of the drug.
According to the FDA and the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the guidelines issued state that we should:
a) Follow any specific disposal instructions on the drug label.
b) If no instructions are given, remove drug from original container, mix with an undesirable substance such as kitty litter or coffee grounds, or anything that looks really gross that you can find. This way the drug will be less appealing if it gets into the hands or paws of kids and pets.
c) Place the drug mixture in a sealable bag and dispose of in the household trash.
Wipe the sides of all of the bottles, jars, tubes, and containers that you want to keep.
Throw out those items that smell, have changed color, or the ones that you have no idea when or why you bought. It happens.
Make a list of those items that you need or want to replace.
Place the items that you will use back in the cabinet.
And for Extra-Credit, (yes, I was an extra-credit girl in high school, can you tell?) if you have a mirror on the outside of the medicine cabinet, wipe this as well. Today, you can use Windex, but in the weeks to come, I’ll be teaching you how to make your own, inexpensive, chemical-free version of household cleaning products. Now doesn’t that sound like a reason to visit Figs and Function every week?
Have a great day, my friends. See you next week.