Human bodies process and react to foods in diverse ways, and finding the foods that your body responds to well is important when it comes to maintaining good health. Food, of course, is not the only component at play. Without our mental and emotional well-being in check, it becomes difficult for our bodies to process and digest, and use good-for-you foods to their utmost healing potential.
It’s no easy feat to keep our systems running well, so to help you during the cooler months, we’ve put together a roundup of our favorite foods that help us to de-stress, digest, boost our immunity, and even aid in our seasonal battle against the dreaded flu. Give them a try and see if they work for you.
An All Around Health-Booster: Turmeric and Black Pepper Many of us have heard by now that turmeric root cures just about everything that ales us, and has the power to prevent certain common diseases. This is all thanks to its main compound, curcurmin, which acts as an anti-inflammatory and a potent antioxidant. Studies have found that curcurmin has the potential to benefit brain function, and lower the risk of heart disease and cancers. A lesser known fact is that curcumin on its own gets metabolized before it can be absorbed into the body. But piperline, a key chemical in black pepper, significantly helps your body absorb curcumin. So if you’re going to add turmeric into your diet, add black pepper too. Here are a few ways to use turmeric and black pepper in your cooking:
Zucchini Pancakes with Greek Yogurt Dip
For a Restful Mind: Kuzu and Apple Juice Kuzu (or Kudzu) root, is the root of the kuzu plant, a member of the legume family. It can be used as a thickening agent in cooking (often used to replace corn starch), but it also has been used in Japan and China for over 2000 years to help relieve digestive discomfort and calm anxiety. A popular way to enjoy kuzu is to combine it with apple juice to form a sweet pudding. If you’re feeling stressed or restless, eat this before bed to help soothe your nerves.
For Easy Digestion: Umeboshi Umeboshi are fermented Japanese plums. They are extremely sour and salty, but have been used for centuries to help aid in digestion, boost energy, prevent nausea, and even help to cure hangovers. You can find the whole pickled plums in most health food stores, and you can also purchase ume vinegar and umeboshi paste. Try using it as a salt substitute in certain recipes, especially sauces. Here are a few recipes from around the web that utilize umeboshi’s unique flavor:
Umeboshi and Rice Salad with Pickled Ginger and Sugar Snap Peas
Mochiko Chicken Tacos with Tangy Umeboshi Mayo
Japanese Cucumbers with Bonito and Umeboshi
(and if you can’t kick that sweet tooth) Umeboshi Cream Cheese Doughnuts
For Boosting Immunity: Shiitake Mushrooms Shiitakes are known to support immune system function and are one of the few foods rich in Vitamin D, which many people (especially city dwellers) are deprived of. Our favorite fungi has a world of health benefits that are worth a longer exploration.
Here are some of our favorite ways to cook with shiitakes:
Tangy Yogurt Noodles with Spiced Beef and Shiitakes
Lemony Chickpea Stew with Brown Rice, Shiitakes and Parmesan
Vegan Pasta Carbonara with Shiitake Bacon