Eat Right: Charge into Spring with Immune-boosting Foods

Spring brings the opportunity for New Jammies families to welcome the new season feeling refreshed. We say goodbye to the stuffy head colds, high fevers and sore throats of winter, taking an holistic approach to health with immune-boosting foods. Whether it’s garlic soup as a natural immune-supporting remedy or apple slices with almond or peanut butter for protein, these recipes harken back Spring’s fresh take at a healthy life.

Garlic Soup RecipeSoothing Garlic Soup
Makes 6 servings
Courtesy wellnessmama.com

The wellnessmama.com website offers “simple answers for healthier families,” and this soothing and immune-boosting recipe that blogger Katie found in an old French cookbook was a pleasant, healthy surprise.

“What surprised me most is the delicious and savory flavor of this soup,” she said. “I expected an overpowering garlic taste, but the added step of roasting the garlic creates a rich and almost slightly sweet flavor.”

Ingredients
4-5 heads of garlic (45-50 cloves)
1/4 cup high quality olive oil
2 onions
4 tablespoons butter
1 quart of chicken broth
2 cups of coconut milk or other milk of choice
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaf or 2 teaspoons of fresh
1 teaspoon dried oregano leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley leaf (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives (optional)
1 fresh lemon (for garnish)

Instructions
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cut the heads of garlic in half across the cloves but do not peel them.
3. Pour the olive oil into an oven safe dish and place the garlic head halves cut side down on the dish.Cover with an oven safe lid or foil.
4. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until garlic cloves are fragrant and starting to brown. To remove the garlic cloves, carefully pick up the shell of the garlic heads. The cloves should slightly stick to the pan, making peeling easy.
5. While garlic is roasting, melt butter in a large pot and add sliced onions. Saute over medium heat, stirring constantly until onions are translucent and golden. Add thyme, oregano, basil, salt and pepper and saute for 2 minutes.
6. When garlic is done roasting, add peeled cloves to the onion mixture in the pot.
7. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes.
8. Reduce heat to low and add coconut milk or other milk.
9. Using a stainless steel immersion blender, carefully blend the soup until smooth.
10. Serve warm. Garnish with fresh parsley and chives and squeeze a lemon wedge over each bowl.

Turmeric Chicken and Brown Rice SoupTurmeric Chicken and Brown Rice Soup
Courtesy Urban Kitchen Apothecary

The blog site Urban Kitchen Apothecary was created by a health-supportive chef, culinary wellness educator, and all-around holistic lifestyle guru based in New York City. In her pantry, founder Nancy houses “fresh and dried herbs and spices, sea vegetables, medicinal mushrooms, superfoods of both the common and exotic varieties, and all matter of tinctures and concoctions … to enhance both the flavors and medicinal properties of my culinary creations (hence the name of this blog).”

According to Nancy, her recipe for chicken and rice soup is easy to make, and gets better over the next couple of days after it’s made. Also it freezes well.

“The brown rice creates a rich, velvety broth and makes the soup more hearty and satisfying; ginger, garlic and turmeric are ultra-soothing, antiviral and immunity-boosting; and lemon is the perfect zesty finishing touch and adds a boost of much-needed vitamin C,” Nancy says.

Ingredients
2 large onions, one cut into quarters and the other diced (divided)
2 large carrots, one cut into chunks and the other diced (divided)
4 celery stalks, 2 cut into chunks and the remaining stalks diced (divided)
1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and diced (if stalks are attached save them for the broth)
10 large garlic cloves, 5 peeled and left whole, 5 peeled and sliced (divided)
5 slices of fresh ginger + 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped (divided)
2-1/2 pounds chicken parts (bone-in breasts and/or thighs)
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seed
pinch of red chile flakes (optional)
2 bay leaves
Piece of Parm rind
2 cups cooked brown rice
juice of 1 lemon, plus wedges for serving
olive oil
chopped fresh parsley
salt and black pepper

Instructions
1. To make the soup base, combine quartered onion, carrot chunks, celery chunks, fennel stalks and trimmings, whole garlic cloves, ginger slices, and chicken parts in a soup pot. Add water to cover (about 8 cups) and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for about 1 hour. Remove chicken pieces with tongs and set aside. Remove vegetables, garlic and ginger with a spider or slotted spoon and discard.
2. Add chopped onion, carrot, celery, fennel, garlic, ginger, jalapeño, turmeric, coriander, chile flakes, bay leaves, Parm rind and brown rice to the pot. Simmer uncovered until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.
3. When cool enough to handle, remove skin and bones from chicken. Shred meat into bite-sized pieces and add to soup. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, chopped parsley and lemon wedges.

Veggie Spring Rolls20-Minute Rainbow Vegetable Spring Rolls
Makes 6 spring rolls
Courtesy chefsavvy.com

This fresh recipe for vegetable spring rolls are perfect for a light lunch, healthy snack or easy-to-make appetizer. Colorful and full of flavor, these naturally vegan spring rolls include mango, high in Vitamins C & A. “The large amounts of Vitamin C act as a great immune booster. Carrots are loaded with antioxidants and a great source of Vitamin A. Bell peppers are packed with vitamins and fiber. Also a great source of antioxidants. The scallions’ Vitamin K and fiber make this a good choice for the spring rolls. Red cabbage is rich in vitamins, fiber and antioxidants,” says the recipe on chefsavvy.com.

Ingredients
6 spring rolls wrappers
½ cup bell peppers (I used yellow, red and orange bell peppers)
½ cup red cabbage, shredded
½ cup scallions
½ cup mango, sliced
½ cup carrots, julienne

Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
¼ teaspoon sweet chili garlic sauce
½ teaspoon sriracha
¼ teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon canola oil

Instructions
1. Place 1 spring roll wrapper at a time in a bowl of warm water for 5-10 seconds until it softens up a bit. Place it on your work surface and add a handful of each veggie in the top center of the wrapper leaving enough space at the top to roll. (Do not over stuff)
2. Fold the edge closest to you over the toppings and tuck the sides in and over the portion you just rolled. Roll away from you making sure to keep the spring roll tight. Repeat until you have used up all of the filling. Should make about 6 rolls.
3. Serve immediately with the Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce. Cover with a damp cloth so they do not stick together if you won’t be serving them right away.

Sweet and Spicy Chili Sauce
1. Add soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sriracha and honey to a small bowl.
2. Slowly whisk in oil in a slow and steady stream.
3. Serve immediately with the spring rolls. If the sauce separates give it a quick whisk.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Granola Apple BitesChocolate-Peanut Butter Granola Apple Bites
Makes 16-20 wedges
Courtesy The Comfort of Cooking

Ingredients
2 apples, sliced into wedges
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup granola, your favorite
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, for sprinkling

Semisweet chocolate chips, optional*

Instructions
1. Coat tops of apple wedges in peanut butter and sprinkle with granola and cinnamon.
2. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring in 30 second increments until melted. Be careful not to overheat.
3. Drizzle wedges with melted chocolate, set on a large platter and serve.

Tips
To substitute the chocolate drizzle, you can sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top of the wedges. Or, leave the chocolate out altogether. They’re still delicious!

If not eating immediately, brush each side of apple wedges with a little lemon juice to avoid browning.

Peanut Butter Love

Health Ambition offers the Top 8 Health Benefits of Peanut Butter, starting with protein. “As a protein-rich food, when you eat peanut butter you feel fuller for longer. Additionally the protein is also good for building and repairing muscles, which is especially important if you work out a lot,” says Chief Editor Helen Sanders.

The Top 8 Health Benefits Of Peanut Butter

Play Right: Science Experiments for Kids

New JammiesFor New Jammies kids, Spring brings a sense of renewal to the world, with plants sprouting and flowers blooming. The rain and the sun team up to boost and nourish the new seasonal growth. Spring is a perfect time to teach the wonders of science to kids with fun and easy projects to create at home. Check out these ideas for hands-on learning and play in nature:


Bean Sprout Science Experiment

The website education.com offers a simple Bean Sprout Science Activity that teaches kids how flowers bloom. “When springtime arrives, your third grader might wonder why there are so many new flowers and plants. This awesome hands-on science activity addresses your young learner’s questions,” education.com says. “He’ll get to observe the life of a bean sprout seed and see what happens when it is properly fed and sheltered.”

What You Need:
• Water
• Paper and pencil
• Paper towels
• Baking sheet
• 3 types of bean seeds (mung, green, lima)

Bean sproutsWhat You Do:
1. Give one of each bean to your child to observe, explaining that each bean has a little opening for water to go inside.

2. Have your little scientist lay a few stacked damp paper towels onto the baking sheet, and put the beans on top. Put a few more stacked damp paper towels on top of the beans. Set the baking sheet aside in a sunny place. Make sure this spot isn’t too sunny, so the beans might get scorched.

3. Ask your child to write down some thoughts on a piece of paper. Have him predict the life cycle of a bean. How long will it take for it to fully sprout?

4. Each day, have your child re-wet the paper towels. Has anything changed in the beans?

5. At the end of a week, your scientist’s beans will have likely sprouted! Otherwise, wait and keep observing. When the beans have sprouted, ask your child about the little plants. Ask him what the purpose of a hard exterior is, what the seed needed to grow, and how plants outside grow.

6. You can take this fun project a little further and plant the seeds outside.

Click to download a printable version of this activity here.

See this activity in a set: Learn About the World Without Going Far


Homegrown Eggshell Geode Crystals

Geodes“Science Bob” Pflugfelder is a science teacher, author and presenter who is a regular guest on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Live With Kelly, The Dr. Oz Show, and Nickelodeon’s Nicky, Ricky, Dicky and Dawn. He encourages parents and teachers to practice “Random Acts of Science” by providing instructions and videos for interactive science experiments on his website, sciencebob.com. This science project from the website, provided by mom blogger and photographer Melissa Howard, helps kids grow their own geodes, with a little help from Mom and Dad.

“This project nicely demonstrates how real-life geodes are formed in igneous and sedimentary rock. It also demonstrates super-saturated solutions and shows a nice variety of crystal shapes and formations,” says sciencebob.com.

What You Need:
• Clean eggshells
• Water
• A variety of soluble solids: table salt, rock salt, sugar, baking soda, Epsom salts, sea salt, borax, or cream of tartar
• Small heat proof containers (coffee cups work well)
• Spoons
• Food coloring
• Egg cartons and wax paper or mini-muffin tins

What You Do:
1. Crack the eggs for this project as close to the narrow end as possible. This preserves more egg to use as a container for the solution.

2. Clean the eggshells using hot water. The hot water cooks the lining and allows you to pull the skin (egg membrane) out of the inside of the egg using your fingers. Make sure to remove all the egg membrane, if any membrane stays inside the shell it is possible that your eggshell will grow mold and your crystals will turn black.

3. Use an egg carton lined with waxed paper or mini-muffin tins to hold the eggs upright.

4. Use a saucepan to heat the water to boiling. Pour half a cup to a cup of water into your heatproof container. If you poured half a cup of water into the container, add about a ¼ cup of solid to the water. Stir it until it dissolves. Likewise if you used a cup of water, add about ½ a cup of solid to the water. You wanted to add about half again the volume of the water as a solid to the mixture.

5. When the initial amount of solid is dissolved continue adding small amounts of the solid until the water is super-saturated. Super-saturated simply means the water has absorbed all it is able to absorb and any solid you add will not dissolve.

6. Add food coloring.

7. Carefully pour your solution into the eggshell, filling it as full as possible without over-flowing it or causing it to tip.

8. Find a safe place to put your shells while the water evaporates. Crystals will form inside the eggshells as the water evaporates.

How it Works
Dissolving the crystals in hot water created what is called a “super-saturated solution.” This basically means that the salts took advantage of the energy of the hot water to help them dissolve until there was no more space between molecules in the solution. As the solution cooled, the water lost its energy and the crystals are forced from the solution to become a solid again. Since this happens slowly along with the evaporation, the crystals have time to grow larger than they were when the experiment started. Natural geodes in rock are form in much the same way as mineralized water seeps into air pockets in rock. This is also how rock candy crystals are formed.


Build Your Own Terrarium

Terrarium
KidsGardening.org creates opportunities for kids to learn though gardening, engaging their natural curiosity and wonder by providing inspiration, community know-how and resources. For 35 years, KidsGardening has led the school gardening movement, and as a national nonprofit is dedicated to improving nutritional attitudes, educational outcomes, social and emotional learning and environmental stewardship in youth across the country through garden-based learning. Their website features garden activities and crafts, including this project on how to build a terrarium, a miniature garden grown inside a covered glass or plastic container.

“It is a low maintenance way to incorporate plants into your classroom or home and an excellent tool for teaching children about the water cycle as it demonstrates evaporation, condensation and precipitation. In the presence of light and heat, water evaporates from the plants through transpiration and from the soil,” says kidsgardening.org. “Since it is an enclosed environment, when the water vapor hits the side of the container, it condenses. Once enough water accumulates or the temperature decreases, the condensation will then precipitate down the sides of the container back into the soil.”

What You Need:
• An enclosed container
• Pea gravel or small rock
• Potting soil
• Small indoor or tropical plants
• Charcoal (optional)

What You Do:
1. Find an appropriate container. Glass jars, fish bowls and tanks, clear plastic bottles and food containers can all make fine terrariums. Just make sure there is enough room to reach your hand into your container for planting and maintenance.

2. Clear plastic soda bottles are commonly used in school settings because they are readily available and inexpensive. To create, cut off the top of a large, clear plastic soda bottle, leaving a container that is approximately 8 inches tall. After planting in the soda bottle, you can either tape the top back onto the soda bottle or just cover it tightly with plastic. Clean the container using soapy water and rinse well. Dry completely.

3. Cover the bottom of the container with ½ inch (for small containers) to 1-1/2 inch (for large containers) of pea gravel for drainage. This mimics the bedrock found under our soils and allows access water to drain from the soil. You can also add a few granules of filtering charcoal (not the type used for barbecuing) to the top of the gravel to help remove odors. The charcoal is optional and is not needed if your terrarium maintains proper moisture levels.

4. Next fill the container to approximately one-third to one-half full with moist potting mix. The amount of soil you put in will depend on the size of the container (you need to have enough room for plant roots). Use a sterilized potting soil mix to avoid problems with molds and fungi (small bags of potting soil are available at most garden centers).

5. The moisture level of the soil when you put it into your terrarium is very important. Pour the soil into a bowl or tub and mix with water until the soil is moist enough to cling together in a ball when pressed into the hand. If water drips from the soil when pressed into a ball, then it is too wet and you should add more dry potting soil to your mixture. Once you find the perfect balance, place the soil in your container. Try to avoid getting soil particles stuck on the sides of the container above the soil level.

6. Many potting mixes contain slow release fertilizers. If the soil you purchased does not contain any fertilizer you may want to add a small number of slow release fertilizer pellets or some organic fertilizer like worm castings to your mix before planting. You want your plants to stay small and grow slowly, so you do not need much.

7. Next add your plants. Look for plants that are small, slow-growing, and perform well in humid environments. How you arrange the plants will depend on the size and location of the terrarium. If you will be viewing the terrarium from one side, then place the tallest plants in the back and shortest plants in the front. If your terrarium will be viewed from all sides or you plan to rotate it, plant the tallest plants in the middle and the shorter plants along the outside.

8. There is a wide range of plants to choose from. Most garden centers have an area reserved for indoor plants and you can usually find a variety of plants in 2 to 4 inch pots. Some recommended plants to use include: African violet, artillery fern, false aralia, jade plant, miniature peperomia, nerve plant, oxalis, pink polka dot plant, prayer plant, small, ferns, small peace lilies, small philodendrons, spider plant, strawberry begonia, and Swedish ivy. These are just a few suggestions. Experiment with different plants. If they appear to grow too vigorously or respond poorly to the humidity, remove them and try something new. You can also try growing plants from seeds and cuttings.

9. In addition to plant material, you can also be creative and add other objects to create mini-landscape scenes. For instance you may want to add decorative rocks, small animal figurines, small bridges or mirrors to look like mini ponds.

10. After planting, attach the container lid or cover with plastic. Place the terrarium in a windowsill with indirect lighting or under grow lights. Do not place it in strong direct sunlight or water will evaporate too quickly and plants may scorch.

11. Observe your terrarium closely for the first few days to make sure you have the proper moisture level. You’ll know that the terrarium contains the right amount of water if the sides and top get misty with water droplets when in bright light. If there is no moisture along the sides, then you need to add some more water. If the sides are always very wet and it is hard to see the plants, then there’s too much water and you should remove the top for a few hours and allow some of the excess water to evaporate. Once you achieve the perfect balance, it will not need frequent attention.

12. Check on your terrarium periodically. Prune or remove plants with excessive growth. You want to avoid plant leaves touching the sides of the container as much as possible to prevent constant water sitting on the foliage. Also check on the moisture levels as some water may be lost over time.

Click to download a printable PDF of this garden activity.

 

New Jammies was born as an environmentally responsible company offering 100% certified organic cotton and flame retardant-free children’s pajamas. Learn more at newjammies.com.