If you're feeling under the weather this winter, before you head to your doctor's office, take a trip to your kitchen. When you feel the first signs of a winter-borne bug, a scratchy throat, a runny nose, an achy feeling, Women's Health magazine suggests it's time for some feel-good foods.
The January-February issue includes the following recipe for made-from-scratch chicken soup, as an example of a dish that's not only comforting, but is also packed with ingredients to boost your immune system and ward off illness. What it's not packed with is fat and empty calories.
Why it works: According to the magazine, researchers at the University of Nebraska found that homemade chicken soup really does make you feel better when you're sick. It reduces congestion and inflammation by limiting the movement of white blood cells that produce infection-related mucus. The result? Fewer sniffles. This version also harnesses the healthy power of tomatoes, potatoes and garlic.
Ultimate Flu-Busting Chicken Soup
3 chicken breasts (skin on and bone in, about 2 pounds)
2 stalks celery, cut in half
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 medium yellow onion, cut in half
2 cups baby carrots, cut in half
1 sprig fresh oregano
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (about 4 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano leaves
1½ pounds red or purple potatoes, cut into bite-size pieces
3 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped (about 2 cups)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Put chicken, celery, 2 garlic cloves, 1 cup carrots, the oregano sprig, and half the onion into a large pot. Fill pot with cold water, 2 inches above ingredients; put over high heat. When water boils, cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer 1 hour.
Set aside chicken to cool and discard all veggies and herbs. Strain broth into a large bowl, skim fat from top, and set aside.
Put oil, jalapeno, the chopped oregano leaves, 2 remaining garlic cloves (minced) and the remaining half onion (chopped) into a large pot. Cook at medium heat until vegetables are just soft, about 5 minutes. Turn heat to high; add broth, potatoes and remaining carrots. When broth boils, reduce heat to medium. Cook until potatoes and carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove skin and bones from chicken. Shred meat into bite-size pieces. Add chicken, tomatoes, salt, and pepper to soup. Cook until warm.
Makes about four 3-cup servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 291 cal., 26 g pro., 36 g carbo., 5 g fat (1 g saturated), 5 g fiber, 74 mg sodium.