Around my house, winter is also less-than-affectionately known as "plague season." or as most say, "cold and flu season." Coming down with some winter bug is always awful, it's especially awful if you're catching it from a small child who picked it up at, shudder, school.
So, I've really tried hard this year to take care of myself and my family, hopefully staving off as many colds as possible. But, every once in a while, we still catch a cold. We'll treat our symptoms as best we can and stay hydrated, but I've learned it's also important to fuel your body with immune-boosting, nutrient dense foods. I wanted to share some of my favorite go-to recipes for our family when we're sick. Each recipe makes use of some of the best ingredients proven to help fight your cold, boost your immune system and help give you an additional shot at getting better faster.
The Best Cold-busting Ingredients
1. Clear soups or chicken bone broth
Soups made with clear broth, specifically with chicken broth, are powerhouses at helping you get over a cold. Not only do these soups boost your fluid intake, which helps thin out mucus and keep you hydrated, but there are powerful vitamins in minerals in chicken broth (the amino acid cystine) that can boost your immune system.
Garlic is an age old remedy for many illnesses. It's been shown to have antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal effects: the trifecta! Studies have shown garlic has the ability to help boost your immune system during colds, plus it adds some flavor to that boring chicken broth.
Honey has been proven to have high antimicrobial compounds, making it awesome to add to your tea while you're sick. The consistency of honey is also a simple way to help ease a sore throat or cough. Remember, children under one should never have honey, as it puts them at risk for botulism.
Ah, my favorite anti-nausea friend. I always recommend ginger to any one with tummy issue, especially parents-to-be with morning sickness. On top of helping your tummy, it's show to have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
5. Yogurt or your favorite probiotic
Sometimes getting sick can mean you need an antibiotic. If your virus has turned the corner to a bacterial infection, prepare to be taking a full course of these babies. Increasing your intake of probiotics like yogurt, kefir or probiotic supplement can help keep your micro biome much more in check, reducing your likelihood of a fungal infection.
6. Leafy Greens
Eating your greens is super important when sick. Leafy greens like spinach, romaine and kale are packed full of vitamins A, C and K, plus lots of folate. These nutrient dense leaves help boost your immune system and act as an anti-inflammatory.
Turmeric has really made a name for itself lately! This spice is a surprisingly powerful anti-inflammatory, especially when combined with black pepper. Adding this to your meals while sick can help reduce inflammation, help all that icky stuff drain and leave you feeling less like a balloon.
8. Lemons, citrus and foods high in vitamin C
Vitamin C is always name dropped when discussing how to beat a cold, why else do most people recommend orange juice? Lemons are a great way to add a hit of vitamin C to a lot of dishes. Don't forget other vitamin C powerhouses like red bell peppers!
My Favorite Immune-boosting Recipes
Click on the pictures below for links to some of my favorite cold-fighting recipes!
I'd love to hear some of your favorite cold and flu remedies in the comments below! What are your favorite recipes to help beat a cold?
One of the biggest hesitations I see in hiring a birth doula is fear in erasing the partner's role during birth. It's totally understandable; you're going to parent your child together, it should start right away during labor and birth. My response to this concern is always the same: A good doula should make your partner look like a rockstar, not stick them in a corner.
Having a doula is one of the best ways to ensure that your partner is as involved as they want to be during the birth experience. There is no way your partner will (or should) know exactly how to support your ever changing needs during labor! When you hire a birth doula, you hire a partner whisperer, someone who takes their birth-y knowledge and gives your partner the tools to support you regardless of the situation.
A really good doula shares their knowledge with your partner without you even noticing, leaving you wondering how they knew exactly how to support you so well. You'll think, "Oh man, they're going to be such a good parent if they could support me like this so naturally!"
Having that confidence in your partner is crucial heading into the intense first weeks of parenting. A doula can help build your confidence in your partner, as well as their confidence that, yes, they really can do this!
Your doula should be a constant presence, but one that doesn't fill the room. They should let you and your partner be the stars of the show. Birthing your baby is an important moment for your relationship, it shouldn't feel like a threesome, but rather an intimate experience that's being protected for you by your doula.
A doula can help you have much needed alone time during your labor. You may need to make decisions during your birth, a doula can help clear the room for you and your partner to make decisions quietly. They can also help you remember to advocate for the special moments you wanted, whether it's your partner announcing the gender or cutting the cord.
Even more importantly, your doula can help give your partner the physical and emotional support they need as well. Though you're doing a lot of the heavy lifting, this can be an intense transition for your partner too. Having a doula on your birth team ensures you won't be alone if your partner needs to grab food, go for a walk or take a quick power nap. I always remind clients, "I get to go home after your baby is born, but you have to start being parents, one of you should be a little rested!"
Evidence shows that having the constant support of doula improves your birth experience and outcomes. With a doula on your team, there's a 31% decrease in being dissatisfied with your birth experience; 25% decrease in the risk of a Cesarean birth; shorter labor by 41 minutes on average; 10% decrease in use of pain relief medications and more. All of these benefits don't just support you, they ensure your partner has a positive experience as well. A birth doula benefits your entire family.
If you're interested in learning more about doula support, you can read more about what I offer here. Already ready to chat? You can reach out to schedule a consult here!
It's the first week of February, which means it's swaps time for the Eco Simple Challenge! We've had one full month of swapping products for more eco friendly, non toxic and zero waste options, as well as simplifying our space by donating items we don't use or need. It's been amazing so far.
Last month's swaps are really integrated into our daily life. I was most concerned about moving to cloth napkins and my new mascara, but both have been awesome. Using cloth napkins is actually pretty easy, especially when we commit to using a napkin per person each day (unless it's really messy, of course). I had originally purchased 12 napkins and this seems to be a good number for the rate we use them and how often they're washed.
My mascara is also going strong. I was pretty nervous that using a mineral mascara would mean raccoon eyes midway through the day, flaking or difficulty removing the product. I couldn't have been more wrong. It's staying put, giving me tons of volume and easy to remove. Just a reminder, I swapped conventional mascara for Mineral Fusion's lengthening mascara, which you can get at Whole Foods or order online here.
Enough with last month, this month is kind of a potpourri of different products I've transitioned to be more eco. Let's dive right in.
Garbage bags are super wasteful, it's just a fact. It's also really hard to make life work without having garbage bags, I know, because we tried one summer. I'm ashamed to say we've been super wasteful with our garbage bag choices. While we weren't using plastic garbage bags with added fragrance, which aren't eco friendly or non toxic, we were reusing paper grocery bags. While we were technically recycling, it was still eventually putting more garbage out into the world.
We purchased new garbage cans and decided to go with compostable bags by the brand If You Care. They're not made with plastic, but instead potato starches, so they're completely compostable. We don't make a lot of garbage to begin with, so I knew these would stretch a long way. We're also reusing the bag that lines the recycling bin.
Our local composting place also has free, large composting bags very similar to this. Honestly, I'll probably stock up on those bags for free once we're frequenting the drop off in the spring.
You can find If You Care compostable garbage bags at Whole Foods, or order online here.
Dry Goods Packaging
It really felt like now was the time to start saying goodbye to unnecessary packaging on dry goods. So many of the dry goods you use regularly - rice, grains, oatmeal, beans, nuts, flour etc. - can be purchased in bulk, which means eliminating pretty unnecessary packaging. It also meant saving some money! A portion of what you're buying when you select that bag of quinoa is the pretty packaging on the outside. When you go bulk, you remove that from the price, which can even make springing for organic less expensive.
Now, it's still easy to use unnecessary packaging when buying bulk. We wanted to get away from using the plastic and paper bags offered in the bulk section. You can do this in several ways. First, you can choose to use the paper bags and then reuse them the next time you go to buy more bulk. The paper bags in the bulk section at Whole Foods are pretty hearty, we'd already been able to reuse them several times with more uses in the future. The other option is to learn how to tare your storage jars. Tare? All this means is you weigh your storage jar when it's empty, then re-weigh the jar filled with whatever bulk item you're purchasing. After that, you subtract the jar's weight from the total to know how much the bulk product weighs. It's pretty simple!
So far we've transitioned packaged products for the following: beans, rice, quinoa, oatmeal, flours, sugars, other grains. We've used large mason jars, repurposed jars from our wedding (we had terrarium center pieces) and purchased some from Ikea.
You can find the same storage jars at Ikea, or order online here.
I use makeup remover, toner and other products that require cotton balls. I was trying to reuse each cotton ball more than once during my beauty routine, but it was pretty hard. So many cotton balls, so much waste.
There are a lot of awesome reusable products out there to replace cotton balls, from makeup removing mitts and cloths, to reusable bamboo rounds. That's when I realized, I still have a ton of reusable bamboo pads I could repurpose. Enter Bamboobies, my bamboo reusable nursing pads. Yeah, that's right, I'm reusing the pads I used while I was breastfeeding to now wipe my face. Don't worry, they've been washed, but they're also working great!
One side of the pad is soft, tufted fabric, while the other side is smooth and flat. I use the smooth side to remove my makeup and the soft side for toner. I can use one pad for my entire beauty routine! Because these babies are meant to prevent liquid leakage, the moisture from removing my makeup on one side of the pad doesn't make it to the other side. It's brilliant.
You can get Bamboobies at Target, or order online here.
I'll be real with you, we don't really use dryer sheets, so this is kind of a half-assed swap, but we were looking for ways to lower the amount of time we need to dry our clothes. Dryer balls fit the need for both, so I had to add this to the swap list.
Now there are plastic dryer balls available, but to me that kind of felt like missing the point since I'm drying to reduce our plastic use. Wool dryer balls are much more eco friendly, plus I love that you can add essential oils to them if you are trying to swap from scented dryer sheets. They tumble around in your dryer, separating the clothes, which cuts down dry time.
It took me a little time to find wool dryer balls I felt were coming from a reputable source. This was a swap I had to purchase online and Amazon can be a mine field for products that look eco friendly, but really are made with a ton of chemicals. I didn't want to get my wool dryer balls home and open the package to smell that familiar chemical smell. I chose Handy Laundry because they had a presence outside of Amazon and multiple other eco products.
You can order Handy Laundry wool dryer balls online here.
I have a real thing against using washcloths to soap up when I'm in the shower. It's just the way they get heavy and slap against my body that really grosses me out. I've always been a loofa person and never really thought about how wasteful they were.
Loofas are made predominately of plastic, so I knew I'd have to swap this out sooner than later. There are a lot of wonderful natural sponges you can purchase, but I decided to go with a bamboo handled brush with natural bristles from EcoTools. I love that it has a long reaching handle to get the middle of my back.
It's also much more effective at exfoliating dry skin, which is a huge plus! I've noticed a serious improvement on how smooth my skin is since using my new brush. Currently, we're still using a washcloth for Tess, because she doesn't have the same weird dislike that I do, and my husband is a bar of soap and hands kind of guy.
You can find the EcoTools brush at Target, or order online here.
Another month in and more swaps made! I'm loving the progress.
Follow along on Instagram from more behind the scenes of the Eco Simple Challenge, including how these products are working for me. You can also share your own swaps by tagging @thesownseed and using the hashtag #ecosimplechallenge.
Let me know some of your February swaps or ask some questions below in the comments!
See you at the end of the month for the five items I'm donating and the new organization I've chosen to donate to.
Want to see previous months' swaps? Check them out here: