Staples to have on hand for the Cold and Flu Season

A few of my clients have already been hit by a bug or two and I'm not feeling my best. It has been a busy start to the school year for many and it's easy to let your guard down and catch something that's going around. Here are a few foods to keep in the house at all times - just in case and also to prevent infection.

Onions - cook with them and eat them raw if possible (chopped finely in a salad or dressing). If someone is ill, please a small dish of sliced or chopped onions in their room to prevent spreading the germs.

Garlic - as with onions, garlic should go into just about everything. Make sure you buy it fresh and organic if possible. Never from China as it is contaminated with toxins. Half a clove chopped finely and swallowed without chewing is great for your digestive system, too.

Ginger - again, I love ginger in all Asian dishes. A few slices in a glass of water or brewed into a tea is a great immune booster. Add a slice to your smoothies or fresh juices.

Horseradish - not always easy to find fresh, but a good quality store bought one is better than nothing. At this time of year it's an excellent immune system booster and I sprinkle a bit onto cream sauces (soy cream for me) or even on a piece of bread with smoked fish for example. A little bit goes a long way.

Nettles - perhaps you still have some in your garden. The young leaves can be used for a soup. The little seeds can be made into a pesto and kept for the whole winter. This is a new way of using nettles for me - but really delicious and the seeds are considered a power food - again, you only need a little bit. Nettles are also very high in vitamin C and are a bitter like dandelions.

Turmeric - perhaps one of the new foods for us in the West, I add turmeric to soups, stews and sauces (and sneakily no one notices). It's an anticancer food, too, so it should have a regular place in your pantry. I like it fresh and grated in smoothies, but you can also make a delcious hot drink or tea with it too - it doesn't have to taste bitter.

Elderberry - not to be eaten raw, but made into a syrup or cordial, they are high in vitamin C and great to have on hand if you aren't well.

Rosehips - another one for a tea or a jelly, this is delicious and children usually like it, too!