Long-Weekend Recipes to Prevent the Flu

Like many women descended from Eastern European baba yagas, I am of the dangerous mindset that I know a lot more about medicine than I do. Oncoming cold? Gargle with salt water. Hiccups? A shot of vinegar. Splinter that won’t budge? Soak in epsom salts. Pretty sure a hefty daily dose of vitamin D3 will beat the winter blues and cut the risk of breast cancer simultaneously. And while this sounds disgusting, a sandwich of thinly sliced raw onions on rye bread will keep you healthy the whole week. I could go on and on, as my poor salted, vinegared, stinking family can attest.

So it’s no surprise have two delicious recipes to stave off the flu.*

The first is PASTA PUTTANESCA, a quick throw-together dish named after the prostitutes who kept it on the stoves of their Italian bordellos. You can omit the anchovies, but they add depth to the flavor, along with a dose of Omega 3, an

Pasta Puttanesca cooking on my stove. I forgot to take a picture of it in the bowl because I was too caught up in the marital problems on THE CROWN.

undebatable ally in staving off heart disease. (I know, nothing to do with the flu.) The sauce is heavy in tomatoes and marinated artichokes – great sources of vitamin C – and, of course, tons of cure-everything garlic. You can find my printable Pasta Puttanesca recipe HERE.

For dessert, why not Easy Pumpkin Bars? Frankly, I’m at a loss as to why we eat canned pumpkin only at Thanksgiving. When I was a struggling grad student, I fed our infant daughter canned pumpkin daily. It was cheap, packed with nutrients and better than baby food. The girl NEVER got sick. (But her diapers….) Someday, I’ll post a recipe for Pumpkin Chili – vegetarian, low in fat (if you’re into that – I am not), affordable and so damned good for you.

Topped with organic pumpkin seed, chia mix some guy suckered me into buying at the co-op.

I’ve halved the sugar in the traditional pumpkin bars’ recipes and might consider eliminating it altogether in favor of a few dollops of maple syrup. (I have no idea why cake recipes have so much sugar.) In addition, I added chopped walnuts and raisins, both of which I had on hand. (Thank you, Costco!) However, in the past, I’ve substituted dried cranberries for raisins and that was delicious. I also sprinkled a cool mix of “superfoods” on top of the frosting to add crunch and yet more nutrition.

The recipe is super quick. Mix eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar until frothy. Add the pumpkin. Then the mix of flour and spices. I now weigh all dry ingredients – so much more accurate. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes. (Hard to over bake this.) Smear with cream cheese frosting and top with something crunchy. Voila! Here’s a printable version of EASY PUMPKIN BARS.

*So, why do these recipes prevent the flu? Because you don’t have to leave your home to make them. Most of the ingredients are probably on hand and, if not, just fudge it. (Except for the pumpkin – you’ll need that.) No matter what, during a flu epidemic like this with a particularly nasty virus, you do not want to come in contact with the public at large if you can help it. I won’t lecture you about getting a flu shot like I did. (Pro tip: take an ibuprofen before the shot.) If you got one before October, you might want to check with your doctor for a booster. Then again, like I said, I think I know more about medicine than I actually do so take my advice with a grain of salt, preferably in warm water gargled before bed.

Of course, now I’ve jinxed myself by being such a know-it-all. Good going, Sarah.




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