Superfoods and Magic Potions

Island Epicure


The colder, windier weather of late fall and winter can turn a temporary  slight sniffle into a horrid cold that drags on and drags you down for two weeks or more. It doesn’t have to though. A well fortified immune system, keeping warm, and getting enough sleep can stop a cold–well, cold! Work some especially nourishing foods into your menus every day. They will fortify your immune system.

These are the superfoods recommended by the editors of Environmental Nutrition: Salmon, Apples, Avocados, Lentils and Peas, Beans, Nuts and Seeds (Almonds, Peanuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, and Walnuts; whole grains: Quinoa, Millet, Brown Rice, Red Rice, Wild Rice, Wheat Berries, Amaranth.

And then, there’s my Magic Potion. I always keep a jar of it on my kitchen counter to thwart any bacterias or virus that sneaks past my nutritional fences. This has kept me free of colds and flu for the past six years. One year when my son John, now the proprietor of a bookstore called Twice Sold Tales in Ballard, was here running an online bookstore out of my basement, he complained of a terribly sore throat. I handed him my solution of cinnamon (for flavor and to kill bacteria) and cloves (antiviral and anaesthetic) and told him, “Gargle with this several times a day. It will make your throat feel better and stop your sore throat from progressing to a bad cold.”

“It’s  magic!” he told me a little later. And that’s how my Magic Potion got its name. I’ve given the recipe in this column several times, but in case you missed it, or just need to be reminded, here is the recipe’s current version:

Makes about 1 ½ cups

1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons whole cloves
2 cups water

Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer  until the water is real dark brown. Store in a tightly covered glass jar. At the first sign of a cold or as flu prevention, put two tablespoons into one cupful of tea. Stir in a teaspoon of raw honey if desired. Enjoy and be healthy.

Many years ago, when my husband, two sons and I wintered in Crete, a couple of wise old men wearing fringed black headbands and full-legged  black Turkish pants handed us a bouquet of wild sage and thyme. They advised us to make tea of these herbs to prevent colds. We found that if we awoke any morning with super stopped up sinuses or sore throats we had only ro walk up the mountain behind our village until we came to thyme and sage bushes. We harvested some of their leaves, and made tea of them to sip and stay cold-free.  Just chewing on a fresh thyme leaf started the cure.
The Mediterranean Sea contains few fish if any by now, so the diet of our neighbors then consisted of bean soup, squid, octopus, meat once a week, occasional fish, onions, olives, tomatoes, wild greens, wild mini-artichokes plus their stems peeled and cut in bite-size pieces and cooked, and dark whole wheat bread. For seasonings, they harvested sage, marjoram and oregano also  growing wild. Orange trees grew wild in the gullies. Apples grew on farms on Lasithi Plain, inside a dead volcano, and potatoes on the lowlands.  Could Adam and Eve have actually lived on Crete?