Michael van Straten
Michael van Straten

Don't Let The Christmas Bugs Spoil Your Holiday

We have all fallen foul of the holiday bugs at some time, but the Christmas cold is a real kill-joy. You've shopped till you drop, done the cards, wrapped the presents and stuffed the turkey. At five in the morning your throat feels scratchy, the temples are throbbing and by the time you need to put the bird in the oven you can't stop coughing and sneezing.

Inhaling steam with eucalyptus oil as a decongestant, rubbing a mixture of pine, eucalyptus and neroli oils on the chest or using them in a vaporiser, will all help to keep nasal passages clear. But food and drink are the quickest cure. Every two hours take a glass of hot water, the juice of a lemon, a teaspoon of honey and a quarter of a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Vitamin C is important for natural immunity so have plenty of citrus fruits and juices - they should be part of your regular family health promotion routine.

Onions and garlic are traditional cold cures around the world, like onion soup in France and the East of England or whole bulbs of garlic in Eastern Europe. The antibacterial effect of both are well proven so add plenty to salads, soups or even sandwiches.

One of the most effective of herbal remedies is an African Pelargonium now available as sugar free Kaloba syrup, convenient and suitable for adults, and children from the age of six. Kaloba syrup is a registered traditional herbal medicine for the relief of upper respiratory infections, colds, sore throats, coughs and congested nose and sinuses. (More info at www.kaloba.co.uk)

Make sure you start taking the syrup at the very first signs of a tickly cough, blocked nose or sinuses and, of course, as soon as you or the children start sneezing.

Recipe For Lamb Parmentier

OK, so it looks like a pudding with cream on top, but I had it in a tiny bistro opposite the food market in Tours that built its reputation on the imaginative use of food, fresh from the market each morning.

Bursting with immune boosting and protective nutrients, this is perfect winter health-food.

110g/4oz slightly salted butter
500g/18oz potatoes steamed or boiled and mashed to a smooth puree with 50g/2oz butter, 30ml/1fl oz cream and two twists of nutmeg. Keep hot
2 medium carrots, peeled and cubed
2 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and finely chopped
2 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
600g/1.25lbs minced lean lamb
15ml/1tbspn tomato puree
75g/3oz fresh or frozen peas
1 bouquet garni - make your own by tying thyme, rosemary and bay leaves together with a piece of string.
125ml/4fl oz red wine
125ml/4fl oz vegetable stock

- Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas6
- Put 55g/2oz of the butter into a frying pan with the carrots, garlic and shallot. Cook gently for about 5 mins until the vegetables are soft but not brown
- Add the lamb, tomato puree, peas, bouquet garni and sauté, stirring constantly, for another 5 mins
- Pour in the red wine and vegetable stock, stir well, simmer and leave to reduce for 15 mins. Remove the bouquet garni.
- Divide the lamb between four glass preserving jars. Top with the potato and put into the oven to heat through - about 10mins

This meal provides masses of protein for growth, strength and repair; carbohydrate for energy; cancer, eye and skin protective beta carotenes and cholesterol reduction from the shallots.


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