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warning swine flu sign

Swine flu has been all over the news lately with some reports sounding rather dire. While I’m mildly concerned, I’m not ready to follow Vice President Biden’s advice and stand out in a field by myself until the threat blows over. Aside from washing my hands more often, all I’m doing is avoiding sugar and sticking with my diet of fresh, wholesome foods. My intent is to keep my immune system tuned up and ready to launch an attack if I come into contact with any swine flu cooties.

The WHO (World Health Organization) recently announced a serge in confirmed cases worldwide and Canadian health officials released information suggesting the first reverse transmission of the virus, from farm worker to pigs, so it’s nothing to sneeze at.

Here’s a list of resources and links to specific information, all related to swine flu (H1F1 is the virus subtype).

General information on H1N1 Flu
What’s going on in your state
Frequently asked questions
Cool interactive map tracking cases worldwide

Immune boosters

• Good quality sleep (this is so important for healthy immune function)
• Moderate exercise
• Antioxidant-rich foods (vitamin C: citrus fruits, peppers, broccoli, green leafy veggies, berries, tomatoes; vitamin A: sweet potatoes, squash, broccoli, carrots, kale, collard greens, apricots, cantalope, peaches; vitamin E: nuts, seeds, gf whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, green leafy veggies; selenium: eggs, chicken, garlic, 100% grass fed beef, gf whole grains, fish)
• Fresh, whole foods — any brightly colored veggies and fruits as they are full of immune boosting phytochemicals (healthy plant chemicals)
• Green tea, ginger root tea
• Mushrooms, garlic, pineapple, coconut (other assorted good stuff)

Immune zappers

• Poor quality sleep
• Couch potato lifestyle
• Consuming junk food and sugar (these suppress the immune system)
• More than 1 cup of coffee a day
• Soda pop and sugary drinks (HFCS)
• Too much alcohol

Immune booster soup
what you need (this is a launching pad recipe, adjust to your liking)

• 2 tablespoons coconut oil (or olive oil)
• 1 onion, chopped
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• fresh ginger root (use to taste)
• 2 carrots, chopped
• 2 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
• 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, washed and chopped
• 2 tablespoons dried or 1/4 cup fresh burdock root, washed and chopped
• 1 cup cooked and diced chicken
• 1 cup cooked brown rice
• 6 cups chicken broth
• pinch of cayenne pepper
• assorted herbs (dill, oregano, basil, parsley, tarragon)
• sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

what you do
Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes and add ginger, carrots, celery, mushrooms, and burdock root. Continue sautéing — add a splash of broth if the pan becomes dry (a touch of broth is a great way to sauté veggies). Add all the chicken broth, diced chicken, brown rice and remaining ingredients. Cook for 30 to 45 minutes.

Adjust as you see fit! Replace brown rice with a chopped sweet potato, skip the ginger, add a finely diced jalapeno pepper — play with your food!

Wash your hands, avoid cooties and stay healthy!

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20 Responses to “swine flu & immune booster soup”

  1. Great tips for life! Not just for the latest media crazed health epidemic.

  2. greedydave says:


    I’m still having a devil of a time sourcing fresh burdock root over here. I’ve found it dried, powdered, liquid extract and in capsule form, but no-one wants to sell me fresh. I have money, look! Not even Birgit, the lovely lady who sends me thai basil and curry leaves in jiffy bags sells it.

    Anyway, frustration aside, your immune-boosting soup simply jumps off my screen. So full of yummy, healthy goodies! 6 cloves are garlic too! I’m going to be popular in the office. Too bad! 🙂

    Stay safe, all. x


  3. Melissa says:


    You’re right about the tips for life — and the latest media frenzy. It’s interesting how the focus is on vaccines and masks and all that, but no one is saying anything about food, nutrition, exercise and how to keep your immune system running efficiently so you can avoid the flu altogether!

  4. Cid says:


    There’s nothing for it, we in the British Isles have two choices… we have to go out and search for burdock in the wild or buy seeds and grow our own. I’m opting for the former just as soon as I can get hold of Ray Mears 🙂 He’ll be so impressed by my turning up with a set of divining rods and chest wading wellington boots plus a tiffin/bento box for essential snacks 🙂

    I feel almost ashamed of the fact that most of us have lost the ability to find and identify wild plants. With that in mind, next time I’m out walking I will make an effort to look for this useful herb. At least one of us should be successful surely?


  5. Cid says:


    There always seems to be a health issue of one kind or another on the go. Flu is a nasty virus and so very different to the common cold. Anyone who says they have flu but is still able to work and function fairly normally probably has a bad cold. If everyone ate as well as you do then perhaps we’d all be healthier and able to fight off any bug.

    Excellent advice as always.

    Cid ~ off to juice some fruit and veg

  6. Melissa says:


    As Miles mentioned some time ago, professional kitchens don’t use burdock root. Probably partly because it looks so — so — what’s the word? Gross, ugly, nasty? It’s definitely not something you’d want to feature on the plate of a fine dining establishment.


    It’s more of an adaptogen used in alternative health care. I like it though and have used it for years. Fresh burdock (I’ve never used dried) has kind of an earthy taste that goes well with mushrooms. But, it’s not going to win any beauty contests.

    You stay safe, too. If you check out that groovy little interactive map I have the link to (above), you’ll see you have several cases of it in your neck of the woods as well. Not to worry, that Guinness stuff you Brits drink should do the trick!

  7. Melissa says:


    I was just about to suggest that GDave contact you as I was certain you could round up Ray to help you locate some wild burdock for him.

    You do have your GPS following Ray’s whereabouts, don’t you? Put on your high-heeled Wellies, pack your bento box with all your best cheeses, grab a bottle of fine wine and casually run into him in the woods.

    “Oh my, I was just out searching for burdock root. Can I offer you a snack?”


  8. greedydave says:


    I went on a mushroom forage a few years ago in a group of about 20 Mancunians. It was organised by a local nutritionist who was simply a walking encyclopedia regarding wild ‘shrooms. He gave us the Latin names and the lowdown on every single mushroom we picked that day, he was very impressive. He was also tall, trim, blonde and handsome, I think Ray would have taken a back seat if you had come along that day. 🙂

    Unfortunately, each and every mushroom I picked was diagnosed as being acutely poisonous. Even when I thought I was getting the hang of identification I was still grabbing stuff that would have packed up your guts and sent you to hospital. Definitely no man-of-the-woods I’m afraid, so I wouldn’t trust myself to find wild burdock. I think nettle picking will be on the cards this year though. You can’t really go wrong with those. We can get our pasta machines out and make some funky green shapes!


    PS. Melissa, I checked out the interactive map earlier today. It’s very interesting indeed. The hub of the cases here in the UK are actually in Scotland so it’s something to at least take quite seriously. Thanks for your feedback. I think you’re right, there’s no way that swine flu could survive the alcohol in my veins. 🙂

  9. Cid says:


    Well, well, you on a mushroom forage, I think that shows a depth of character. I myself went a’foraging some years back on a similar expedition and found it a fabulous experience. My team produced the most moth eaten cep but at the end of the day it was the only cep so I took it home, did away with the bad and chopped the rest into an omelette…..everyone watched closely to see if I was still breathing after the first bite! Always take a specialist with you folks (especially if he’s GDave’s guide 🙂 ) because it can be a dangerous business. Learning about wild food should be taught in school I think. Anyway getting back to our burdock…. I’ll see if I can find one then report back… in the meantime I know where I can get some Dandelion & Burdock so that’s a start 🙂

    I like your idea about nettle gathering and making pasta… I’ve got some leather metal welding gloves which should come in useful 🙂


    p.s. Ray may not be an outright winner in the looks department but his overall manliness and knowledge compensates. I’ve tried telling my single male friends about this phenomenon but they never seem to grasp the concept…. Melissa on the other hand, got it straight away 🙂

  10. Melissa says:


    I have to say, you and Cid are becoming quite the entertaining team!

    By the way, I loved your man-of-the-woods reference. I ran across a lot of wild mushrooms while backpacking the Colorado Trail last summer, but since I have no knowledge of what’s safe and what isn’t, I admired them and moved on. I’d hate to have a wilderness “Alice in Wonderland” experience at high altitude.

  11. Melissa says:


    I’d love to take a wilderness foods class and would have loved to tag along on your foraging expedition. Next time you’ll have to snatch GDave’s guide to lead you. Make sure you wear your fetching Wellies, but leave the nettle gathering gloves at home. Those could be a turn off.


  12. Does anyone EVER talk about prevention via food, exercise, etc. … I don’t think so. 🙁

    That soup sounds very good. I could have used some this evening. It’s cold here. Last night, I actually had a fire in the wood stove, but tonight I was lazy. My nose is frozen. Please refresh my memory … in the U.S., can we pick up burdock root at the health food store?

    Thanks … must go to bed now 😉 ,

  13. Melissa says:


    Unfortunately, nutrition and lifestyle aren’t at the top of most “how to avoid the flu” lists.

    It’s finally nice here, so I feel for you with the cold weather. It’s spring, darn it!

    Burdock root isn’t real popular, so most places don’t carry it. I get it at my local “natural foods” market, but it’s not always available. I really like it for a variety of reasons, but I’m in the minority, so you probably aren’t going to have easy access to it. One of the produce guys at Whole Foods told me they usually throw most of it away! YIKES! That’s not good. If nothing else, I could put it in my compost pile.

  14. lo says:

    I’d love it if the media would glom onto some of these great prevention tips.

    If everyone just got enough sleep, just think of how much better the world would be? Lawd — just think of how much better I would be!! 🙂

  15. Anne says:

    Well, it has arrived:
    “Swine Flu information”, a leaflet issued by the National Health Service to every household in the UK,
    You and your commentators are quite right. Not one mention of prevention through healthy living. The only protection it can talk about is “good hygiene practices”.
    I have always felt that the NHS is about secondary care rather than primary care. Lo is right, the media could also do more. However, it should all start at home and in schools.
    Cid is right, it is embarrassing how we have lost the art of identifying our flora and fauna.
    I appreciate the efforts you make, Melissa to provide information and enthusiasm for healthy foods. That, coupled with great humour from your contributors and you have the best recipes in the world :).
    Healthy and smiley greetings

  16. Melissa says:


    I can totally relate to the sleep thing. That’s my downfall, although I’m always trying to get my eight hours in.

  17. Melissa says:


    It was just a matter of time before the swine flu made it your way. You are right, we have a disease care system, not a health care system. We need to think about increasing our overall health rather than waiting for something nasty to take over.

    I love learning about flora and fauna identification as well, although I’m not very good at it. GDave’s mushroom odyssey sounds like a fun way to spend the day.

    As always, I appreciate your comments!

    Healthy and smiley greetings to you as well.

  18. Raewyn says:

    Despite being well nourished by a sound and very healthy organic food diet supplemented by vitamins&minerals, and having adequate sleep and exercise, I succumbed to swine flu and associated pnuemonia. I have never been unwell in my adult life, and now at 58 I experienced this horrible virus!
    And as you note, they hand you leaflets about hygiene — so inadequate!

  19. Melissa says:


    Gosh, I’m sorry to hear you caught this nasty stuff. And yes, it seems to be hitting the young and the healthy as well. That’s what makes it so devastating. No one is safe from it, but I guess we do all we can to be healthy and hopefully if we get hit with it, we can survive it and eventually thrive again. I hope you are healthy and well now!

    Best wishes,

  20. Great ideas! We also take a certain
    Elderberry Tonic (I posted about it on my blog recently) to boost immune system.

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