Immune Support: Mom’s Chicken Soup

Immune Support Soup

We all suddenly have oodles of time on our hands, plus a lot more concern about our health. Voila! If you’re a person who relieves stress by doing, this recipe is for you – even if you’re not the greatest cook in the world. More importantly, Mom’s Chicken Soup is nourishing AND provides immune support – comfort food that’s great for you.

In times of illness (cold/flu/other virus), this is the recipe I turn to, courtesy of my mom. Note: it freezes well, and there are infinite variations you can try. I like ginger and turmeric for even more of an anti-inflammatory boost, but let your taste buds guide you. This may take a little time and a few steps, but it is seriously, seriously easy to make:

Mom’s Chicken Soup

Ingredients

1 small organic chicken
2.5 quarts purified water (or more)
1 large onion
4 whole carrots (or parsnips)
7 stalks celery
fresh dill

Directions

1. Bring water, chicken (gizzards removed) and a large onion, quartered, to boil in a large pot. Water should just cover chicken, so you may need slightly more or less.
2. After liquid boils, skim off white foam from tip before lowering heat to simmer for 1.5 hours uncovered.
3. Add carrots and celery stalks to liquid, cover pot, and simmer for another hour.
4. Remove chicken from pot to cut up into bite-sized pieces.
5. Remove onion and veggies from pot, puree them, and return to pot with chicken pieces.
6. Add fresh dill (and/or parsley if you like) and 1.5 tsp sea salt (or to taste).
7. Simmer for 10 minutes.
8. Enjoy!

Elements that are particularly beneficial for immune support include: bone broth (a hot topic these days), onion, which contains anti-inflammatory quercetin, and carrots and celery containing both fiber and immune supportive vitamin A. So, why not make something good for your health and your immune defenses?

Let me know how this recipe works for you in the comments, and stay well and safe, everyone.

Glutathione – Your Body’s Secret Weapon?

Antioxidant infusion

Not to overshare, but I’ve been known to refer to intravenous (IV) infusions of glutathione as “Muppet juice.”  Why?  Well, the boost they give can make me start humming that old song from The Muppet Show: “Dah, dah, dah, it’s time to start the music, it’s time to dim the lights.  It’s time to get things started FOR THE MUPPET SHOW TONIGHT!!!!”

Or it’s like that part in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy enters Munchkin land and everything transforms into vivid color.  Seriously.  But – just as seriously – that’s how it is for me.  When I joke about its impact in the IV room at Beverly Medical Center, I can see people’s ears perking up.  Hmm, I can practically hear them thinking, I could use some of THAT.

And my answer?  Maybe so . . . but maybe not. 

Glutathione: the Basics

But first things first – what even is it?  The most powerful antioxidant is one your body not only creates but can recycle, according to need.  We form glutathione from three amino acids, glutamic acid, glycine, and cysteine. And we get those through the protein we eat and process. You also need a variety of vitamin and mineral cofactors to regenerate it.

And glutathione is more than an antioxidant.  A versatile work horse, it supports detoxification and immune defenses.  When your body is more challenged, you may need more – and given the right ingredients from a healthy diet, your body should make more.

Knowing Your Needs

As a former engineer, my inclination is always to seek (and use) more data.  I wanted to understand why my immune system seemed sluggish, why I sometimes seemed so easily thrown off balance.  Autoimmune thyroid disease and other factors certainly have left me on shakier footing. My MTHFR genetic polymorphism can also make it more challenging for me to regenerate glutathione.

I decided to experiment with it. Most people who need more glutathione tend to do better when given its precursor instead, n-acetyl cysteine (NAC).  But rather than making me feel better or more energetic, supplementing with NAC actually made me feel WORSE.

Next, I performed an organic and amino acid test panel to see why. The results confirmed that I had ample (!) quantities of cysteine, glutamic acid, AND glycine.  But those same functional tests also confirmed that I had a glutathione deficit relative to my body’s needs. 

How to Boost Your Levels

That’s where the IV administration comes in.  We typically don’t absorb oral glutathione well through the digestive tract, although some preparations (sublingual, liposomal, and more) have shown more promising results in studies.  Another option is to bypass the digestive tract and deliver a more substantial quantity of glutathione, using an IV “push.”  I periodically do those along with a vitamin C (+ other vitamins & minerals) concoction, especially when I get sick.

And last year, during a particularly run down and stressful time, I was having one a week — each time with that lights-on-showtime type experience.  Yet a recent IV to hasten my recovery from a cold delivered nothing that dramatic.

And that’s exactly what would happen if someone who didn’t need or could already make sufficient glutathione might feel – nothing.  Which is why it’s important to work with a nutrition practitioner like me who considers all the individualized factors – genetics, nutritional status, life stressors, detoxification burden and capacity, and more. 

Because the right solution for you can be a powerful tool— Muppet juice, even!  Yours just might not be glutathione.

Reclaim Gluten Free (AND soy free!) Asian Dumplings

asian dumplings

Back when I learned I needed to eat gluten free and soy free, I thought I’d lost certain foods forever, particularly some favorite Asian cuisines!  I’ve since learned how to make many Asian dishes with a few substitutions, the most important of which is Coconut Aminos, a staple in my kitchen and my cooking.  This sauce makes Asian dishes like my Mongolian beef work, but also adds that extra pop of umami as a quick marinade or side sauce.

Still, I thought my days of enjoying dim sum or dumplings were long gone – and the frozen ones just didn’t do it for me.  And then I found a (gasp) gluten-free dumpling class, taught by Kim Hunter of Raleigh restaurant Kimbap fame – cue celebratory dance!

The answer? A gluten free dumpling class!

Over a lovely afternoon with like-minded folks, my husband and I learned how to get those dumplings back!  I will confess that ours looked like a wild bear had folded them, but we should get better with time, right?  With her permission, I’m sharing Kim’s recipe for gluten-free dumplings so you, too, can reclaim this delicious dish!

Recipes from the Kimbap Kitchen: Pork Mandu (Korean dumplings)

Yield ~45 dumplings

Filling:

1 lb ground pork (or can use chopped up shrimp or other protein; sweet potato makes a nice vegetarian option!)

2 cups chopped greens or cabbage

½ cup chopped scallions

1 T minced garlic

1 T minced ginger

1 tsp salt

½ tsp sugar (optional)

2 T coconut aminos (a great tasting soy substitute)

  • Mix all filling ingredients

Pro tip – cook up a small amount of the filling to see if the seasoning is to your liking!

  • Dust your surface and the wrapper with fine flour (rice flour works)
  • Keep water nearby to pat onto the wrappers to keep moist
  • Fill each dumpling wrapper with approximately 1 T filling
  • Fold according to your preferred style!
  • Can steam or pan fry immediately (or keeps in refrigerator in parchment paper up to 12 hours)

Note: raw dumplings may be individually frozen for up to 6 weeks!

Gluten Free Dumpling Wrappers:

Yield 45-60

1.5 cup (white, fine) rice flour

¾ cup millet flour

¾ cup tapioca flour

2.5 tsp xanthan gum

1 tsp salt

1 cup hot water

  • Mix flours, salt, and xanthan gum
  • Add hot water and incorporate; knead for about 2 minutes
  • Let rest for at least 30 minutes

Note: dough may be stored in refrigerator for up to 2 days

  • Divide dough into 4 pieces and slice off thin pieces
  • You can either cut in circles or leave square for more rustic style
  • Roll out using a small dowel (smaller than a traditional rolling pin! Look at Asian markets)

Dumpling Sauce

Yields ½ cup

¼ cup coconut aminos

1T sesame oil

2 tsp mirin

1 tsp black vinegar

1 tsp molasses

Sliced scallions

Pinch of salt and pepper

If you don’t have mirin, vinegar, or molasses on hand, simply coconut aminos, sesame, and a pinch of salt will do!

Can You Eat to Reverse Cognitive Decline?

Many of my clients express anxiety about Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). And I don’t have a geriatric practice! But this fear can span all age groups and particularly affects women as both patients and caregivers. The thought of significant cognitive decline can spark deep anxiety – not just because we the fear loss of qualities that make us…well, “us,” but because we may feel helpless in the face of it. 

Tools to Fight Cognitive Decline

But are we really helpless?  Recent research suggests otherwise!  While we don’t have a complete understanding of what causes cognitive decline, promising early studies indicate that using a multi-factor approach can stem its progression or even reverse mild cases.  One protocol, developed and tested by Dr. Bresden at UCLA, focuses on treating Alzheimer’s more like a chronic, manageable disease. And many of the tools can be found in your own kitchen!

Bresden Protocol: Multiple Levers

The Bresden premise is that the combined effect of many tactics is key; his protocol employs 36 potential “levers,”  customized according to the specific needs of the patient, including1:

  • Reduce inflammation with an anti-inflammatory diet and supplements
  • Understand and optimize nutrient levels, including: B12, B5, D3, K2, antioxidants, Zinc:Copper ratio, and more
  • Improve gut health
  • Include cognitive enhancement elements, such as Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Optimize hormone balance
  • Address any heavy metal toxicity and sleep disturbances identified
  • Enhance the body’s own clean-up mechanisms, by incorporating a 12 hour fast overnight
  • Reduce stress, possibly by yoga or meditation, and incorporate regular exercise

The good news is that these steps will reduce your risk not just for Alzheimer’s, but for many chronic diseases.

How You Can Reduce Your Risk for Cognitive Decline

Now, where to begin?  A good start is to schedule an overall integrative health evaluation that includes an understanding of your functional status for key nutrients and looks at other predictive parameters – if you have this in place, you’re already ahead of the game!  The next step is to optimize a food, lifestyle, and supplement plan specific to your needs. We can help!

Contact me to learn more about how to reduce your risk, today!

Sharon Price, M. S. Nutrition