Our team member Katy of Free Range Katy is back today with an awesome round-up of nutrient dense foods. Although these foods are ideal when trying to fight a cold or flu, they are even better when used as preventative medicine to be healthy and strong on a daily basis to fight the germs you come into contact with. They are the basis for Phase 3 of Healing in Real Life Paleo. Looking for more natural remedies? Check out this round-up from Balanced Bites that also includes lifestyle factors and supplements.
The one group of foods I’d personally recommend adding to Katy’s fantastic list are fruits and veggies, which are high in vitamins and minerals. Specifically, Vitamin C foods (broccoli, bell peppers, parsley, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, lemon, strawberries, greens, kiwifruit, papaya, cabbage, romaine lettuce, oranges, chard, tomatoes) and Vitamin A foods (sweet potato, carrots, spinach, greens, and winter squash) are at the top of our list when we’re sick. What’s awesome about Katy’s lists, though, is that these fruits & veggies are incorporated into so many of the dishes she’s found for you that you’ll get doubled up on healing foods!
It’s a well known fact that this time of year is “flu and cold season,” and all the drug stores make sure to put out lots of commercials encouraging you to stock up on hand sanitizer, over-the-counter flu and cold remedies, brightly colored gummy vitamins, and with constant reminders to get a flu shot.
Now, I certainly am not here to comment on my opinion about flu shots and hand sanitizer because that is a very personal decision that each family should research and decide what’s best on their own, but one thing that I’d like to point out is a commonly overlooked “coincidence.” So have you ever noticed that around the time for commercials for flu shots, fall allergy and cold medications come out, the Halloween Candy also shows up in every store you step foot in…. including the drug store?
Halloween Candy is out in the front of every grocery store more than a month before the actual holiday, then immediately after, it goes on sale! After we have finished indulging on pumpkin and ghost shaped sugar bombs, we start planning for Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years, and with all the cookie swap parties, extra alcohol, and traditional family treats and desserts that everyone indulges in, the months of September through December are just one big sugar fest. Even if you have seen the light, and only indulge in “paleo desserts,” they can still get out of hand if you aren’t careful. So is it a “coincidence” that flu season happens to accompany sugar season? Not likely…
By now you have likely heard that if you have a healthy gut, you also have a healthy immune system, and sugar in all it’s forms is one of the most damaging types of foods that can hurt your gut and wreck your immune system. Add on top of that all of the stress that work, school, and life can throw at you, and a bad cold can put your down and out in no time.
So what can you do? Well, obviously the first step is to take a proactive approach and try to keep the sugary treats and candies to a minimum, but the second step is to actively search out nutrient-dense, healing foods that will guard you against germs and sickness.
In addition, if you do find yourself sick this season, these same foods can help put you on the mend quickly. Make sure to PIN this article so that you have all of these recipes at your finger-tips to help this season.
Bone Broth, or more accurately stock made from the bones of healthy animals, is a gut-healing staple that everyone in the Paleo community, Weston A Price community and GAPS Diet followers can all wholeheartedly agree upon. The stock is made by simmering the bones of healthy animals (i.e. grass-fed, pastured, organic or wild-caught), with aeromatic veggies like carrots, celery, and onions for anywhere from 45 minutes (for fish stock) to over 48 hours (for some beef and pork stocks). In addition to a liquid that is incredibly flavorful and comforting as a base for homemade soup, this liquid also is chock full of healing amino acids that have been slowly coaxed out of those bones and vitamins and minerals from the vegetables they cooked with – which is why for generations homemade chicken soup has been the recommended food to eat when you’re sick!
So can you take a short cut and just buy the stuff at the grocery store, or pop a can of soup on the stove and call it a day? Nope. That stuff in the grocery store is so far removed from real food it isn’t even funny, not to mention the amount of chemical preservatives and FLOUR that is often found in canned soup. For a great recipe for stocks, you can check out Matt and Stacy’s recipes in Beyond Bacon, Eat Like a Dinosaur, and in addition, Real Life Paleo will also have a section of recipes and methods devoted to teaching you how to make your own stock as part of the “Phase 3 Healing” portion of the book. For some other recipe ideas about how to incorporate bone broth in your diet, you can also check out these recipes:
Of course when it comes to healing soups, Stacy and Matt are experts. Every morning, Matt fixes Stacy her now-instagram-famous Stacy’s Daily Breakfast Soup (1). It has become a good habit that has helped heal Stacy’s gut and ease her autoimmune symptoms as well. In keeping with the #soupwithstacy theme, their most recent recipe and installment of the new Tutorial Thursday series included this awesome recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup with Spaghetti Squash (2). Another popular recipe that is a staple in the Toth-McCarry household is their super kid-friendly Egg Drop Soup (3), and also their Butternut Squash Bisque with Bacon (4) that is creamy, delicious and perfect for fall!
A little while back Popular Paleo guest posted this comforting recipe for Cauliflower Dumplings with Creamy Chicken Soup (5) that is a perfect solution when you are sick and looking for a bowl of something familiar.
If Thai is one of your favorites, I highly recommend Stupid Easy Paleo’s Thai Coconut Soup (Tom Kha) (6), with a hint of spice and warmth that will definitely clear your sinuses, plus an added bonus of nutrient dense seafood to help you get over the sniffles.
Similarly, the next two recipes also give you a great dose of seafood super-foods with The Domestic Man’s Fish Stock (7) and Virginia is for Hunter Gatherers Seafood Stew (8) which is made from Russ’ stock. Russ points out that whereas pork, chicken or beef stock takes hours to simmer to develop the right flavor and coax out the important vitamins and nutrients, the bones in seafood break down and release their healing powers in under an hour, making it highly ideal for busy people! Seafood is also high in zinc and Omega 3 fatty acids, so by using seafood stock you’re getting 3 super-foods in one!
For a veggie packed soups made with a base of bone broth, you should definitely check out Nom Nom Paleo’s Curried Cream of Broccoli Soup (9) and Predominately Paleo’s Creamy Tomato Basil Soup (12). These can either be eaten as a side dish or you can throw in some cooked protein and make a full meal out of them.
To round out this collection, some great pork soup options are Paleo Cupboard’s Zuppa Toscana (11) which is a paleo take on that classic favorite soup from a certain Italian Pasta chain that shall not be named, and my own recipe for Potato, Tomato and Zucchini Noodle Soup with Sausage (10) made with my Roasted Pork Trotter Stock. When making stock, we recommend you use feet from pigs and chickens because they contain high amounts of collagen, making your stock super gelatinous and full of nutrients.
Chris Kresser says it most simply when he wrote that “Eating fermented foods is one of the most important things you can do to improve your health. Fermentation increases the beneficial bacteria, vitamins and enzymes present in foods and makes the nutrients they contain more bioavailable.” In our world today we are sanitizing and disinfecting everything, and while we might be killing off some bad germs, some of that bacteria we actually need to stay healthy! By eating fermented foods with natural probiotics on a daily basis (or as much as possible), you are eating foods teeming with the good bacteria and probiotics we need to keep our immune system healthy to ward off sickness, OR if you have fallen ill, increasing the amount of fermented foods you are consuming can help you get better faster.
Matt and Stacy’s favorite way to incorporate fermented foods into their family’s diet is with Kombucha, a fermented brewed tea that contains a wonderful dose of probiotics. They also made this awesome recipe for Kombucha Gelatin Gummies (1) that is perfect for kids! Grass Fed Gelatin is also great for gut health and immunity, so make sure you check my Gelatin Round Up for 60+ recipes!
They have also been known to throw a “Fermentation Party” like this one they had with some of Stacy’s girlfriends (2). They reviewed the awesome paleo book Fermented, and made kombucha, fermented pickles and preserved fermented lemons.
Later, Jill (author of Fermented) guest posted this awesome recipe for Probiotic Ginger Ale (3) knowing Stacy’s love of ginger. This recipe is another great one because the process is a little simpler than making kombucha, and it is a great substitute for that gross, corn syrup filled ginger ale most people drink when they are sick. This recipe actually helps heal. For another great fermented beverage that is perfect for this fall season, try the Cinnamon Apple Kombucha from Plaid and Paleo. (4)
Beth, from Tasty Yummies also guest posted this awesome recipe for How To Make Dairy-Free Cultured “Cream Cheese”. (5) Beth taught us how to add probiotic capsules and “culture” the coconut cream, which is a close cousin to fermentation and another great way to introduce more probiotics into your diet! Beth also has a great vegan Fermented Salsa on her webiste! (6)
For some simple fermented veggie recipes, Stacy’s friend Steph from Stupid Easy Paleo has this awesome Recipe and tutorial for Beet Ginger Sauerkraut (7), Spicy and Sour Kimchi (8) from Mark’s Daily Apple, Balanced Bites Simple Raw Sauerkraut (9).
Homemade Fermented Ketchup by The Domestic Man (10) is an awesome fermented condiment recipe great for all the tale gate parties coming up!
And also for a couple of ideas for fermenting fruits, try Lacto-Fermented Peach Chutney by Paleo Leap (11) and Vitamin C-rich Preserved Fermented Lemons from The Healthy Foodie (12) would be fantastic to add to drinks when sick!
Organ Meats & Nutrient Dense Super-Foods
In most places in the world other than the US, all different cultures appreciate and incorporate organ meats regularly into their diet. For some reason, us Americans have been squeamish when it comes to Offal (the term for the ‘unusual’ parts of the animal) and it is really a shame because these parts of healthy animals are extremely nutrient dense which significantly contributes to good health and a healthy immune system. Specifically, liver is an excellent source of vitamins A, D, E, K, B12 and folic acid, and minerals such as copper and iron (see more here). So eating these foods will prepare your body with extra nutrients it needs to fight back against those germs. But I get it – it doesn’t taste familiar and it might look strange. But here are a collection of good tasting organ meat dishes and nutrient dense recipes to get you started without the fear.
Chicken Liver Mousse (1) spread on apples is a truly nutrient dense food, and extremely luxurious tasting. Matt’s recipe is AH-mazing and has zero of that iron-y taste that is sometimes associated with liver. Similarly, their Beef Bacon 50/50 Braunshweiger Sliders (2) are a great way to hide offal in a familiar burger recipe, plus their recipes for Spaghetti Squash with Offal Sauce (3) and Organ Meat Pie (4) are both VERY kid friendly – your little ones (or your spouse!) won’t even know about the nutrient dense organ meat in the dish.
And if you truly can’t handle the idea of liver, Matt and Stacy suggest trying heart first. Although it might look strange at first, when cooked it is the most like any other muscle meat (because it is a muscle!). Their recipe for Sweet Heart Jerky (5) is a popular one with the little boys in particular.
For those a little more adventurous, The Domestic Man has an awesome recipe for Mexican Tripe Soup (Pancita/Menudo) (8), and The Paleo Mom’s Offal (But Not Awful) Stew (9) is also a great soup option. Not only are you getting in some organ meats, but you have the added benefit of the bone broth!
The Warm Liver and Cashew Salad by The Healthy Foodie (10) is a nice light option with lots of raw veggies. Asian Chicken Hearts by South Beach Primal (11) and my Braised Lengua (Beef Tounge) with Sauteed Cabbage and Hot Sauce (12) are some great spicy options with a definite kick of flavor.
Grass-Fed Braised Ruminants
While you might understand what “grass fed” means, you might be like, “Ruminant? What is that?!” Well a ruminant is a fancy term for mammals that are able to acquire nutrients from plant-based food by fermenting it in a specialized stomach prior to digestion, principally through bacterial actions. Ok, that might seem weird, but you already know and love lots of ruminant meats from cows, goats, sheep, and deer. There are a few others, such as giraffes, yaks, camels and antelopes, but we will just stick to recipes from those first four. Grass-fed meats are naturally high in zinc, CLA, Vitamin E, and Omega 3’s that help keep your immune system healthy, and when an item is braised, it naturally breaks down during the cooking process, allowing your body to digest it very easily and absorb all available nutrients!
Typically, when you “braise” something, it means you sear the meat of choice quickly, then cook it low and slow with stock, veggies and seasonings for a while until the meat is tender and pulling apart easily. Usually tougher cuts of meat are best in braised dishes because they need to cool for a long time, and it is also a way to utilize these cheaper cuts of meat.
Matt and Stacy do a great job at braised dishes, especially with their Lamb Neck Stew (1) and also their Caramelized Broth Brisket (2). Lamb necks are a lesser known cut that happens to be very inexpensive, and when braised in their stew it is hearty and delicious. Their Caramelized Broth Brisket is slow cooked, and then the broth is reduced until it forms a kind of “jam” sauce that is naturally sweet.
Pot Roast is a classic go-to braised dish with so many different variations! A while back I guest posted this recipe for Mediterranean Braised Pot Roast (3) on Paleo Parents, and my husband still requests it often. It’s slightly different than a traditional pot roast with the addition of oregano, green olives and raisins. The Domestic Man also has a recipe for German Pot Roast called Sauerbraten (4) that also happens to have raisins, but his pot roast has a delicious, bright sour flavor, and it is also flavored with juniper berries!
You might have noticed that goat is on my list of ruminants, and while goat can be a little more gamey than beef or lamb, it does beautifully when braised low and slow and flavored with intense seasonings, like in Nom Nom Paleo’s Braised Thai Green Goat Curry (5), Jan’s Sushi Bar’s Braised Goat Shank Stew (6), and The Domestic Man’s Moroccan Goat Curry (Tagine Makfoul) (7).
Arsy from Rubies and Radishes has two awesome crock-pot recipes for Slow Cooker Beef Burgundy (8), and also a great Slow Cooker Lamb Vindaloo (9). Both are great if you only have a few minutes in the morning to assemble them, then turn on your crock pot and you can leave all day and come home to a wonderful, nourishing meal.