by Nozella Brown
With the flu season starting early and escalating quickly, prevention is the best policy. While the flu bug can attack anyone, children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems are most susceptible. Besides getting a flu shot there are a few other precautions to remember and practice.
Wash hands often. Wash hands 20 seconds before and after meals, after going to the bathroom, after playing with friends or pets and handling items that others have touched often, such as money, computers and door knobs.
Get plenty of rest. Inadequate sleep compromises the immune system and increases risk of illness.
Drink plenty of water. It is vital for proper functioning of the body, but sugary drinks weaken the body’s ability to fight infections.
Manage stress. Stress can be good, but too much has been related to infectious diseases. Physical activity and taking slow deep breathes are two quick and easy ways to keep stress in check.
Eat a variety of healthy foods. MyPlate is a reminder to eat foods that contain immune-boosting nutrients. Carbohydrates from whole grains, fruits and vegetables provide energy and fiber to fight bacterial and viral invaders, while the vitamins and minerals in these foods regulate the body processes. Dairy contains minerals that give the body structure and protein repairs the cells and provides energy.
One-pot meals are a great way to combine all these immune boosting foods into a warm dish. Try our Alphabet Soup that can be prepared as a soup mix ahead of time and cooked and served in about 30 minutes. Add whole grain crackers and milk for a complete meal. May you and your family have a healthful 2013 as you move closer to a healthier lifestyle.
Nozella Brown is a family and consumer sciences educator for Kansas State Research and Extension, Wyandotte County. Follow her on Twitter @WyCoSnapEd.
Alphabet Soup Mix
1/3 cup beef bouillon
1/2 T. onion flakes
1/2 cup split peas
1/2 cup ABC macaroni
1/4 cup quick cooking barley
1/2 cup lentils
1/3 cup long grain rice
Enough small pasta to fill the jar
Directions for layering mix:
In a wide mouth quart jar, layer all ingredients in the order given. Finish filling jar with any shape pasta. Layer all ingredients in a wide mouth jar in the order given.
To make soup:
Wash hands and cooking surface. Cook ground beef in a large kettle and drain. Add dry soup mix, water and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Bring mixture to boil and reduce to simmer. Cook for 30 minutes or until done.
Nutritional information per 1 cup serving: 200 calories; 4.5g total fat; 1.5g saturated fat; 0g trans fat; 15mg cholesterol; 24g carbohydrates; 6g fiber; 1210mg sodium; 3g sugars; 15g protein; 4% Vitamin A; 6% Vitamin C; 2% calcium; 15% iron.