It's been raining since I woke up at 7. I have a sore throat and a sinus headache. Two weeks ago, I had a kidney infection. It was excruciating. I'm better now, but, you know...being able to feel your inner organs (in a bad way) just isn't right. So, I'm lying in bed with a shiny new cold, having just recovered from an internal infection. Schtuff happens. And because I've had to rest a lot and work less in the past few weeks, I start to feel like I'm trapped in a little town in the middle of a foreign country, going nowhere. That's not really true, but it's how I feel today. In other words, I'm in a crappy mood. Just being honest.
So, what do I do when that happens? Here's a list of a few essentials. Try them out next time you're stuck in a rut.
*First, I make sure I'm eating good food, in other words, green vegetables, since they're packed with nutrients (see recipe below). I include spices like turmeric for its antibacterial properties, its benefits for the liver and skin and many other healing functions. I might eat a kiwi or two because of their exceptional Vitamin C levels. I have a couple of eggs for protein, which helps keep my blood sugar steady. But basically, I keep my food light and super nutritious. I don't eat cookies or a chocolate bar. That makes you feel worse, once the sugar high has worn off and you've swallowed it and can't taste it anymore. Then you just feel more lethargic and maybe slightly regretful, and your body still needs the real food to nourish it.
*Second, I move. I turn on this song...
...and I dance. There, now you can do it too! I adore old music videos. They don't make 'em like they used to. I'm diggin' the guy in the orange/red shirt and black trousers on the platform - I don't know what he's up to, but it makes me smile. I almost always choose 'Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now' by McFadden & Whitehead because it's the most positive, uplifting song I can think of. You could say, in terms of Ayurvedic medicine, that 'Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now' is universally beneficial. I jump around, clap to the beat, kick my legs up and really get the blood going. Even with a sore throat. I do this in front of a mirror so that I have someone to grin at. It feels great.
*I drink ginger infused hot water with lemon and add some manuka honey after the 'tea' cools enough to comfortably hold the tip of your finger in. Manuka honey is helpful in fighting off infections (it seems) because of its antibacterial action. Ginger helps to clear any phlegm, perks up your digestion in a big way, and helps to detoxify the body. In Ayurveda, ginger is also said to promote circulation and creativity. You can't lose with ginger. Just slice an inch (or less if you want less spice) of ginger root into 3 cups (700 - 800 ml) water and boil; then reduce to a simmer and cover, simmering for 5 - 10 minutes until it's nice and spicy. Pour into a mug, squeeze in lemon to taste, let it cool down and stir in the manuka.
*I ask myself what I really, really, really feel like doing. In other words, I listen to my body. This is a little like meditating. Maybe I need to rest. Journal. Dance. Stretch. Finish a task that's been on my mind for too long. Clean the house. Get some sun. Turn off the computer. Snuggle the cat. Whatever it is, I take the time to do it.
After all of that, I can usually fight off any encroaching ailment, feel better and get some good work done. Like writing this post, so that you can have a better day too.
Dark Greens with Garlic, Lemon and Spices
As usual, use organic where possible to avoid giving yourself a dose of pesticides. The better the vegetable, the less you have to do to it to make it taste gorgeous. So hit up your local farmers market or save money, support independent farmers and join a CSA (in the UK or the USA).
The point of this recipe is simplicity and ease. It can be as fast as: steam greens. Toss in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Serve. Or you can get fancy with the garlic and spices.
Chard, kale, tenderstem or purple sprouting broccoli, broccoli rabe, beet greens, turnip greens, spinach, arugula (rocket), mustard and dandelion greens...these all work. If you're using dandelion or mustard greens, you might want to use them as an accent to a different green like chard, spinach or kale, unless you're really hard core about your bitter foods.
2 bunches of greens, about 300 grams, or 4 big handfuls after you chop them
1 - 2 Tablespoons olive oil
2-3 medium/large garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds, enough to sprinkle over the pan
1 - 2 Tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice (save the rind and put it in tea)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon each: cumin, coriander and paprika powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
pinch of chili flakes (optional)
fresh herbs (optional): parsley, coriander, basil, oregano...it's up to you. A sprig or two of each.
fresh ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sea salt (to taste, or leave it out here)
Wash the greens, remove any tough stems and chop them. Mince the garlic. Heat the oil on medium in a medium/large skillet, then add the garlic and sesame seeds. Toast for a minute or two, just until the garlic starts to brown a bit. Then add the greens, lemon juice to taste and crack the pepper over the greens. Stir occasionally until the greens have wilted down.
A minute or two before the greens are cooked to your liking, add the cumin, coriander, paprika and turmeric powder; also add the fresh herbs. Sprinkle a bit of salt over everything. Mix well. With dry spices, you want to add them just before you're done cooking. They dry out the pan and will stick and burn quickly if there is very little moisture in the pan. You want to heat them just enough to take out any raw taste but not much more.
Taste for salt and pepper, then serve. I actually love this for breakfast, for the way it tastes and for the way it makes me feel, with an egg or two on the side, or fried and placed on top.