I don’t want to annoy anyone (or tempt fate) but I hardly ever get ill. No, I’m not a virtuous vegan; I’ve always had a pretty hearty constitution. So when I get a case of the sniffles, it always comes as a bit of a surprise. I’ve been known to have what I call a ’24 hour cold’, which is when, you’ve guessed it, my symptoms magically disappear after a day or so. This weekend, however, I was poorly for a good three days – well done, common cold. And while I definitely didn’t lose my appetite (that will never happen), I was definitely less hungry than usual. Yes, it’s true that I managed a trip to Wahaca on Saturday (spicy food is good for a cold, OK?) but generally I stuck to soups and salads as my body was clearly in need of a vitamin boost.
I thought I’d share some simple recipes that you can make when you’re feeling under the weather. They’re quick and easy to make and full of goodness – they should make you feel better, even if it’s only because they’re delicious.
Super sunshine salad
This takes ten minutes to put together and will make you feel full of the joys of spring (hopefully) – and doesn’t it look pretty? Purple foods like radicchio and beetroot are full of antioxidants which help the body produce nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and may have other cognitive benefits too, so this this salad is good for your mind as well as your body.
The picture and caption (can you spot the typo?) below tell you all you need to know. I used tinned green lentils and vacuum-packed beetroot but you could use the fresh stuff. Any salad leaves will do, although I do think that radicchio, watercress and romaine work pretty well. Oh, and I’d normally add capers but didn’t have any in the house. Don’t forget to squeeze some of the blood orange juice over the salad to give it extra zesty freshness.
Cheering carrot and sweet potato soup
Next up is this carrot and sweet potato soup. I was feeling pretty cranky when I made it and all the chopping, stirring and subsequent slurping really did soothe my spirits. The cumin, chilli and ginger work wonders for a cold, as do the carrots and sweet potato as they’re full of vitamin A which helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth – and mucus membranes. Tasty.
This will take about 45 minutes to make. It’s best to prep all the vegetables so that they’re ready to chuck into the pan when the time comes.
Heat a large pan and melt two teaspoons of coconut oil (or olive oil if you prefer). Add a mugful of red lentils and a teaspoon of cumin (powder or seeds), grated ginger and a finely sliced red chilli. Allow the lentils to absorb the flavours for 2-3 minutes, then add three shallots (or a large onion), finely sliced, a sweet potato and 5-6 carrots, both chopped into small cubes, to the pan. Now add 1.5 litres of stock (I like to use Bouillon) and season with salt and pepper. Squeeze in the juice of one orange for a hit of vitamin C. Place a lid on the pan and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring regularly. If you’re blending this, allow it to cool for 10 minutes or so and then use a hand-held blender until you have a fairly smooth and creamy consistency. Serve with bread or on its own.
Rhubarb and blood oranges are in season so I’m having a field day. Not really, but I am taking every opportunity to eat them. If you’re feeling full of vigour (i.e. not ill) you might like to try this tasty rhubarb and apple cake. Otherwise, just stew and slice – sounds like a torture method, right? Stewed rhubarb is such a simple pleasure. Because of its sharp flavour, you’ll need to add some sweetness with sugar or a spoonful of date syrup – or just stew some apples with the rhubarb. Ginger and cinnamon (root or powder) go very nicely with this. For pudding the other night I had stewed rhubarb with sliced blood orange and a dollop of soya yogurt – tip: the Tesco unsweetened version is the nicest I’ve tried.
Otherwise, just spoon onto porridge – ideal for the days when you just crawl back into bed…
Try these bowls of comfort food when you’re feeling less than tip top; they might just be what the doctor ordered.