Keep Yourself Healthy. The season is changing.

Hey all.  This is a psa.  With the weather changing you all have felt the chill of the wind.  The sun is lower in the sky.  Here are a few things you can add into your daily routine, to ensure your health throughout cold-season.  

Drink ginger tea.  Wear a scarf.  Put on a warm hat.  Roast squash.  Get in a sauna.  Do some warm-up stretches.  Sit in the sun.  Stay hydrated.  Go to sleep early.  

These suggestions have a common theme.  Warmth.  As we turn further into the darker season of winter our bodies appreciate any support to stay warm.   By taking these simple actions we can change how our bodies are prepared for the change in the season.  We can support our body by feeding it anti-inflammatory foods, think, garlic, ginger and turmeric.  Keep our body's warm by not leaving the house with a wet head, wrapping a scarf around your neck so you are not exposed to the wind, and putting a hat on.  

I stock up my tea cabinet this time of year.  Ginger tea, I use as the base for all my other tea.  One tea bag of ginger, with one bag of roasted dandelion root in the morning.  Or ginger with a chai tea bag.  There is lots of room to play around with flavor.  If tea is too expensive, try cutting up fresh ginger root and throwing it in some boiling water on the stove.  Then use the boiled ginger water as the base for your tea.  

I also make stock, so I have it on hand for soups, and marinades.  Bone broth is all the rage right now.  All the health magazines are weighing in on the benefits or trend of bone broth.  I make stock/bone broth year round.   I always have at least one jar of it in the fridge.  A few years ago I discovered I could roast a chicken.  I was beyond thrilled with myself.  It is super easy and extremely satisfying.  Nowadays you can buy rotisserie chicken at most grocery stores for a fraction of the cost of raw chicken, but I still enjoy the process and the scent of chicken in the oven.  But if you are going for cost effective and convenience the store bought will work just fine. For the sake of this post I am going to start with the raw chicken.  Then get you to the end product, bone broth.  Pre-heat your oven to 350°.  I take my raw chicken out of its packaging and rinse it off under some cold water.  Pat it dry.  Place it is a roasting dish and stuff it with a celery stalk, a few carrots, a clove or two of garlic, and a quartered onion.  I stuff some fresh herbs, or dried, (parsley, sage, basil, thyme) under the skin of the bird.  I usually break up some butter, about a tablespoon,  and smoosh that under the skin with the herbs.  Sprinkle the outside of the skin liberally with salt and pepper.   Put the chicken in the oven and let it cook for about 1 and 1/2 hours.  I never use a timer.  My girlfriend is trying to teach me how to use the timer on the microwave, I find it confusing and annoying.  If a timer is your jam, go for it.  I take my food out of the oven by smell.  I have a meat thermometer I use to double check myself.  If you want to you can baste the bird through out the hour and a half.  But you probably won't need to.  

Once the bird is finished cooking let it sit till its cool enough to pull.  I use my hands to pull the meat off the carcass.  If the bird is too hot from the oven this will be a painful experience.  I put all the meat I pull off into a container.  I use it for lunch and dinner through out my week, or make chicken salad, or chicken soup with it.  Then I put the stripped carcass in a large sauce pot.  I add some onions, garlic, celery, carrots, veggie garbage: cores, outer skins, stalks and unused leaves.  I add a bay leaf and water.  I usually fill up the pot about 16 cups of water.  I set it on the stove on low heat and let it simmer away with a lid on it for 3 hours.  Keep an eye on it so that the pot doesn't simmer over or cook dry.  Then strain all of your solids out, and pour the stock into jars to keep in the fridge.  You can also pour it into a ice cube tray or muffin tin and freeze it so you serving size portions.  There are tons of recipes and techniques for stock/bone broth on the internet.  If I don't want to be cooking all day, I will freeze the chicken carcass.  I keep bones from pork chops and steaks in the freezer and throw them in the pot too.  You can buy bones at most meat counters, if you want specific red meat bones.  I also keep a bag of frozen veggie discards in the freezer.  I put all my onion skins, garlic skins, apple cores, celery leaves and herb stems in it.  That way I am using up the odds and ends rather than fresh ingredients.  Some recipes will instruct you to brown the veggies and onions before you add the water and bones.  Others will add spices and salt for more depth of flavor.  I like a pretty simple stock as I find it more versatile.

Lets recap.  Introduce some anti-inflammatory foods and spices into your diet to boost your immunity as the season changes.  A solid hit of vitamin C is always a good thing.  Eat an orange.  Keep yourself warm; wear a scarf, a hat, an extra layer under your sweatshirt.  Get some really luxuriously soft warm socks, I recommend wool as it stays warm even if your feet sweat.  This season is all about staying cozy, so keep your body cozy too.   

Drink lots of tea.  It keeps your hands warm while you hold the cup and there are so many herbs and flavors to support your immunity.  

Make stock.  Drink stock.  Make soup.  Roast squash.  Get in the kitchen and turn the oven on.