Author: WinterJade

MARINATED SKIRT STEAK Marinated skirt steak is more tender

On a personal note, I happen to like marinated skirt steak quite a lot, but I have learned that the longer it cooks the tougher it gets.  For this reason, the common wisdom is that it is best prepared rare or medium rare.  Whatever your preference, you’ll want to serve it sliced very thin after cooking. Here’s the recipe:


  • 2 T tamari
  • 2 T Olive oil
  • ½ lemon juiced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp oregano

Combine the marinade ingredients for 1½ lb. skirt steak in zip lock bag. Add steak and turn to coat both sides. Marinate in the marinade for anywhere from a few hours up to 3 days.  [Feel free to add S & P (even Worcestershire sauce, if you like) to the marinade – or you can leave it out of the marinade and let each person add it to taste on their plate.]


  1. Preheat oven to 450, or prepare grill.
  2. Cook for 6-9 minutes on one side, depending on how well done you like your steak.
  3. Flip the steak over and cook for half the time of the first side (if grilling, grill the steak for 6-7 minutes on each side).
  4. Cut steak across the grain and serve.

Here are some helpful hints for cooking skirt steak: 4 Quick Steps; and How To Cook It Perfectly.

And check out the recipe for Sautéed Teriyaki Mushrooms. It’s the perfect complement!

SAUTÉED TERIYAKI MUSHROOMS Sautéed Teriyaki Mushrooms go with everything!

Sautéed mushrooms are so delicious and flavorful. If you love mushrooms like I do, you can literally pair these Teriyaki Mushrooms with anything or even better, put them on top of everything – steak, burgers, chicken, fish, salads, potatoes, rice, and  so many different dishes.  Like this Marinated Skirt Steak recipe:


  • 3T olive oil
  • 3T butter
  • 1 lb. button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 T red cooking wine
  • 1 T teriyaki sauce, or more to taste
  • ¼ tsp garlic salt, or to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat olive oil and butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Cook and stir mushrooms, garlic, cooking wine, teriyaki sauce, garlic salt, and black pepper in the hot oil and butter until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to low and simmer until mushrooms are tender, 5 to 8 more minutes.

Nut & Seed “Cereal” With Pears A hearty nut and seed breakfast with yogurt

This hearty nut and seed breakfast with yogurt gives you plenty of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, while the low glycemic load pears give you a serving of fruit, and the cinnamon helps to stabilize blood sugar.


  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons almond meal
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnut meal
  • 2 tablespoons flax meal
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (ensure no sugar)
  • 1 pear, sliced


1) Mix the nuts, meals, and seeds with the cinnamon and vanilla.
2) Divide into two bowls. Top with yogurt and pear slices.

Serves 2

The WATER Phase in Asian Medicine The Water Phase is the Time of Stillness

The Water Phase goes with Winter, the Time of Stillness

Water is a great healer.  Think of how peaceful you feel by the oceanside, or soaking at the hot springs . . . and how restored you feel at the end of your stay.

The Water Phase of Asian Medicine represents the ability to flow through life with ease and grace.  An easy, graceful, steadiness requires a tranquil nervous system and good quality rest as the ground for enabling that flow.

The WATER PHASE governs the KIDNEYS and BLADDER, as well as the hormonal and nervous systems.

The Asian medical classics say the Kidney energy (yin), which includes the adrenal glands, is that of a strong and capable minister of government who exhibits technical ability and expertise. The Bladder energy (yang) is like a local minister who works to adjust the supply and demand of water in outlying areas. In this way they work together like supervisors over all the various organs and functions.

The Water Phase of Asian medicine regulates the hormonal and nervous systems.  If you are a Water-type person, when you are in balance, you are calm and even, you enjoy physical activity and are well-coordinated. You possess the energy, strength and will to persevere in your endeavors. Although you may be tired at the end of the day from working hard, you will fall deeply asleep, waking up refreshed and restored.

When you are out of balance, you may tend to overwork, and yet never finish what you start because you have a hard time finding the perseverance required to stick with it. Or, you may tend to startle easily, be timid or fearful, or exhibit excessive nervous energy. You might even be hypervigilant, over-react to things and appear to be “on your last nerve.”

The Water Phase encompasses the element of water in all its states, from steam to water to ice. The most common complaint associated with the Bladder and Kidney meridians is low back pain and stiffness.  Your back “freezes up.” Headaches at the base of the skull or at the forehead are also typical. Shiatsu, or other bodywork, is an excellent remedy for such complaints. Acupuncture and chiropractic may also help. Find out what Shiatsu can do for you here.

In Asia it is common in winter to wear something warm around your belly and low back – called a hara maki – in addition to the scarf around your neck, as the low back is very vulnerable to cold.You can order then from Amazon. Check it out here.

If that does not suit you, try rubbing the area of your back around your kidneys vigorously before going out into the cold and again when you come in, just as you rub your hands together to warm them. Exercise that takes you inward and emphasizes low back health is excellent. Yoga, qigong and Alexander Technique are good choices. Or check out this YouTube instructional video on self-massage for the back.

Recommendations for the Water Phase In winter it is best to conserve your energy by staying warm, getting good nutrition, and keeping a harmonious balance between activity and rest.  And sleep is absolutely essential for maintaining health.  It is common to need more sleep in the winter, so go ahead and get that nine or ten hours you’ve been needing. It’s justified!

Two types of rest are important: one is recuperative sleep, as always; the other is just as important, especially at this time of year — it is the type that does not require sleep, but quiets your whole being. It restores your soul so that you can dream the dream your spirit yearns to realize. Winter is the perfect time to read, paint, write or journal, plan your garden, etc. Any quiet creative endeavor that helps you stay “in the flow” of your true self fosters a healthy functioning Water Element. This is a good time to start or give attention to your meditation practice.

Regarding foods that are good during the Water Phase: at this time of year, you can best maintain body heat by eating a diet of mostly carbohydrates and proteins. Hearty soups and casseroles with lots of root vegetables are wonderful. Red beans, black beans, lentils and split peas are also excellent. If you use whole grains, barley and buckwheat make splendid additions that support the Water Element in this cold season. Drink lots of water and avoid too many dehydrating and stimulant drinks. Also, cold drinks (especially cold beer or soft drinks with ice) are especially harmful.

So stay cozy, rest well, eat warming food, incubate your dreams, and cultivate your true self and deep nature. Remember, snow and ice are just water in one of its forms. The thaw is coming, so don’t lose your sense of fluidity, power and freedom. You are the flower blooming through it all!




In Asian Medicine, the Earth Phase is also called Indian Summer or late summer, but it’s meaning is the time between seasons.  We commonly call it “the change of seasons.”

In late summer, the rhythm is still kind of lazy, though a vague and gentle stirring begins.  We remember something we have been procrastinating about, or something we have been planning to do but have not yet gotten to.  We feel like getting started on it.  We may think about getting back to yoga or taking a new class.  These thoughts are not pressing at this stage, but rather dreamy and pleasant in nature – the state of relaxed alertness, of perfect balance between rest and activity.  In this state, we know our true desires and what we want to do to achieve them.  Some, we finish harvesting now, at the close of summer; others, we sow seeds for, in preparation for the aspirations that will blossom later.  In the Fall, both aspects are equally present and poised in balance for our consideration.  In nature, this is clearly observed at the Equinox, when day and night are of equal length.

The autumnal change of seasons is most indicative of the Earth Phase because it is the time of the great harvest.  Mother Earth gives us food, shelter and clothing and is the support we stand on.  So, you may already have correctly presumed that the Earth Phase is all about nourishment.  It is associated with the stomach and “digestive juices” (acids, enzymes, and the like).  Its main functions are digestion and nourishment.

Shiatsu is a recommended treatment strategy for digestive difficulties.

On the emotional level, it includes nurturance – the balance between nurturing and being nurtured.  If you are person who gives more than you take, or who takes more than you give, you are probably out of balance or not in harmony with your personal Earth energy.  You may be able to remedy this simply by trying to remember what it is meant to be is: “the one who tends the fields reaps the harvest.”

When balanced, Earth-type people have the capacity to exhibit great compassion.  They can have empathy and sympathy without over-identifying or giving away more energy than they have.  They have good relationships with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.  If they have given loved ones in need a lot of time, attention and energy, they have people to turn to who will lovingly replenish it with caring support.

Just as the Earth Phase expresses itself physically by the digestive process, it is expressed mentally by digesting information and by a certain keenness of mind – the ability to think clearly, to concentrate or study, and generally process information.  Consider everyday expressions like “food for thought,” “a lot of information to digest,” or “let me chew it over for a while.”

Exam time is a good time to seek Shiatsu treatment. It helps increase mental capacity, improve concentration, relax the mind and ease anxiety.

Recommendations for the Earth Season Earth is all about nurturance, including the balance between nurturing and being nurtured.  We nurture our families, our friends and ourselves by the food we eat and the thoughts we think.  What about getting nurtured?  Asian medicine recognizes that the transition between seasons is known to be a time of delicate balance for health.  Customary recommendations for the season are to eat well, rest deeply during sleep, and receive a shiatsu or acupuncture treatment aimed at maintaining a harmonious balance of body, mind and spirit.  Asian bodywork (shiatsu, tuina, etc.) is considered one of the most beneficial treatments for health maintenance.

The common wisdom of Asian medicine recommends getting a Shiatsu treatment at least four times a year at the change of seasons.

Hearty Garden Vegetable Farro Soup Prep Time: 15 mins Cook Time: 35 mins Total Time: 50 mins

Hearty soups are great for Fall and Winter.  They warm you from the inside out, and just make you feel so-o-o good!  This one is high in fiber and uses an ancient grain — farro.  Many people consider it to be interchangeable with spelt, but farro is an ancient grain and will cook in about 30-45 minutes. Spelt has a different texture and takes hours to cook.  Both belong to the wheat family, so if you have sensitivities, you might want to skip this version (although spelt is digestible for some).

Farro is an Italian emmer wheat, and is high in fiber and a good source of iron and protein. It’s also very easy to digest, so your body can absorb all of those great nutrients. All you have to do is cook it directly in the simmering soup liquid until tender.

The proper way to cook Farro

Select pearled farro because it cooks more quickly than whole or semi-pearled. Farro does not swell and absorb all of the water, as rice does. The correct proportion is 1 cup farro to 2.5 cups water. Bring the water to a boil; reduce and simmer about 25 minutes, until the grain is tender but not mushy. Cook it directly in the soup, or drain and cool it and add it to salads. It’s so versatile and it has so many  the health benefits!

Hearty Garden Vegetable Farro Soup

• 2 tablespoons olive oil, extra-virgin
• 3/4 cup celery, 1/8-inch slices
• 1/2 cup yellow onion, 1/4-inch dice
• 1 cup fennel, 1/4-inch dice
• 1 cup carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced crosswise 1/4-inch thick
• 1 teaspoon minced garlic
• 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 tablespoon tomato paste
• 1 cup baby tomatoes , cut in half
• 4 cups vegetable stock, unsalted recommended (32 ounces)
• 4 cups water
• 1 cup pearled farro, rinsed
• 15 ounces cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 cup peas, frozen, fresh or canned
• 2 tablespoons basil, thinly sliced
• 1/2 cup Italian parsley leaves, chopped fine
• 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish

1. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Throw in the celery, onion, fennel, carrots, garlic, thyme and salt. Cook, stirring a few times until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste.
2. Now it’s time for the sliced baby tomatoes, vegetable broth, and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the farro and beans. Reduce the liquid to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and cook for 25 minutes, or until farro grains are tender.
3. Put in the peas. Cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Divide evenly among bowls and top with the basil, parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Notes
1. If you substitute vegetable broth, use 8 cups of broth and omit the water.
2. Chicken stock can be a substitute for vegetable stock. Use unsalted, if you can find it, so you can control how much you add to the soup.


THE SHIATSU SOIRÉE A Gathering For Imagining

A soirée is defined as “an evening party or gathering, typically in a private home, for conversation or music.” It comes from the French word, soir, meaning evening.

black & white photo of a soirée George Sand, noted novelist and playwright of the mid-1800s, famously hosted many of these in her salon outside of Paris. These gatherings offered a place for many renowned artists of the day to meet and hang out. George Sand, herself, often performed her plays there. Chopin would play new music he was composing. Talented artists of all genres would share their passions and their works together,  stimulating the artistic sensibilities in each other. If you were an accomplished or aspiring artist, you did everything in your power to be there!

So . . . What About a SHIATSU SOIRÉE?

I would love to revive this atmosphere for shiatsu practitioners and students. After all, we are also artists of a sort – the healing arts sort. We have experiences, insights and questions that we want to share and discuss. But the opportunity to do so does not easily find the right set of circumstances in the treatment room, classroom, or in everyday conversation. So . . . let’s have a soirée!

a color painting of a soiréeAlthough my home is by no means a large salon with a stage and piano, my dining table sits eight, and the living room several more. I am eager to hear what doing shiatsu has stirred up for you in your practice and in your heart and soul. And I’m happy to answer questions and tell stories about Masunaga and Kishi, about what I learned from them, and am still learning.

I also love the idea of having a healing circle at the end of each soirée. The purpose could vary from time to time. One evening it might be for healing each other. Another might be for sending healing to a group (like the residents of Puerto Rico after the devastation of their island). Or, it could be for a larger purpose, like our Mother Earth. I will gladly contribute what I know about healings of this nature, and volunteer to lead the circle.

What You Get Out Of It

elephants sharing affectionEveryone who took part in previous soirées remarked that, when we come together, something beautiful happens. Something encouraging. Nurturing. And sustaining. Something we offer each other that we can take home and cherish.



Dalai Lama & GandhiYou may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing, there will be no result. Mahatma Gandhi

If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito. The 14th Dalai Lama


Helen Keller


Remember, no effort that we make to attain something beautiful is ever lost.  Helen Keller




I hope they inspire you, too. I would love to see you at the next Shiatsu Soirée!


Anatomy can actually be very helpful in locating meridians. Do you sometimes wish you knew for sure if you are really on the meridians? Do you wish you felt secure enough in your hand’s sensitivity to trust that you found the point? Do you wish there was another way to learn meridian and point locations besides memorizing anatomical landmarks?

While memorizing may not be much fun for some people (I am among them), anatomy, on the other hand, is really cool. After all, it is what gives the defining shape to every species on our planet – and the defining shape of every individual within their species. Pretty awesome!

That said, I do not love memorizing. I love knowing, but memorizing can sometimes get in the way of knowing. What I really crave is understanding. If I am considering the movement of a foot, I want to know that it can swing from side to side. I want to know it can point up and down. If I am doing a shiatsu treatment on the foot, it is important to understand that that movement comes from the ankle. I should also understand how the ankle works and what its purpose is.

The same is true of the meridians. I may have received a meridian diagnosis of Large Intestine. I may, therefore, be considering the elimination function or the emotional process of grieving. It is important to understand the purpose of the Large Intestine meridian if I want to treat it. And, I need to know exactly where it is in order to address it. Meridian location is important.

Blending Meridian Diagnosis And Location With Client Goals

If my client wants to feel more spring in his step, it helps to know a few things:

  • That I will have to work on the ankle, more than on the foot
  • Where the ankle is and  how to move it
  • With his meridian diagnosis as Large Intestine, where the LI extension is located in his foot 
  • How I can use the extension to move his ankle

But I don’t particularly have to remember that the movements I will use are called dorsiflexion and eversion [though it will probably impress my client if I do :-)]. I can do an effective treatment, regardless. I DO have to find the foot, the ankle and the LI meridian, at the very least.

One of the things I found most disconcerting about learning meridian locations was that the texts did not always agree with what my Japanese teachers had shown me. Fortunately for me, I never doubted my teachers. I never thought I had to change my thinking about where the meridian “really” was. My faith in them allowed me to continue working “true” to the teachings. I remained open to figuring out why the texts disagreed.

Why Meridian Anatomy Varies

It was not until I taught in acupuncture colleges that I discovered why. What I found out was that the anatomical descriptions given in acupuncture texts for locating points did not include the angle of needle insertion. Angle of insertion is taught in the classroom. It is more of a “lab” course – and it makes a huge difference.

I realized that:

  • Although the point of the needle may touch the outside of the skin when it starts out (which is where the textbook indicates), it often ends up in quite a different area inside the body once the insertion is complete
  • It might be impossible for my hand/thumb/finger to start out where the text indicates, and end up where the needle ends up
  • If I started from a slightly different place with a different angle, I would end up in the same place as the needle did – the right place, the place where the energy gets stimulated.

“Oh!” I thought. “That’s why my teachers said the meridian was here instead of there!”

So when I teach meridian location, I like to use bony landmarks, especially at joints. They are SO helpful in delineating a meridian pathway. And I will use every anatomical name I remember. It is a great refresher for students to hear that language. However, I may not remember some of the anatomical language. I may not remember the name of the stylus or head or process [of a bone] that I am touching. When that happens, I may ask the class what it is called . . . because it is a good refresher for me to hear that language. 😀

But what’s more important is that I feel the meridian. That I know it. And the more I feel and know it, the better I understand it. And that’s what I like to pass along to students. I want to help them feel it. I want them to have confidence that they are in a meridian because they recognize the feel of it. That offers the opportunity to be aware of when they lose that feeling. It’s just like walking on a trail in the forest reserve. You’ve got your map, and you could swear you were following it. But you know you must have missed something because you sense that the sun would be in a different place if you were walking in the right direction. That understanding allows you to re-orient and right your course.

From my point of view, I presume the texts may be right for points and needles, but not necessarily for meridians and hands. Not to mention that exact anatomical descriptions for point locations differ slightly from textbook to textbook. Or that one person’s meridian may vary slightly in location from another’s.

If that should happen, don’t feel confused. It ‘s no more bothersome than one person’s forehead being higher or lower than another’s. It’s still in the right place so you can still locate it. If you try to touch the forehead and you get eyes, you know you just have to move up a little . . . because you felt it! That’s what I like to teach – what it feels like. If it doesn’t feel like it’s supposed to, you just change your angle or move your finger a little, and you’re back on it.

What you feel is what makes the difference in a shiatsu treatment. It’s how you get a good effect and longer lasting results for your clients.


“This is a great old Maine recipe, moist and spicy. The bread actually tastes even better the day after it is baked. Great for holiday gift giving!” — Laurie Bennett

on cooling rackI must admit that I take some liberties with this pumpkin bread recipe from Down East Maine. I like to play around and substitute some of the ingredients. For instance, I’ll use applesauce or orange juice or brown sugar in places. And I’ll add nuts sometimes. Also, I usually have to bake it longer than the directions indicate. It has always come out delicious. Hope you have fun adding your own touches!

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup water

3 cups white sugar

3 1/2 cups all-purpose  flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

(may add 1 tsp vanilla)
1.    Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7×3, or two 9×5 inch loaf pans.
2.    In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
3.    Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cold and Flu Prevention It Never Hurts To State The Obvious

sick-in-bed-man     sick-in-bed-child   foot-soak-thermometer







No one is immune to the misery of a bad cold or flu, once caught. So the best defense is prevention. Everything about cold and flu prevention is quite simple. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to do, because it takes vigilance. You have to stay on it.We tend to run on automatic pilot for most of our day and are often unconscious of the little things we do that invite those pesky germs to set up shop. What follows is something I found online at that may help you stay healthy this season.

In my opinion, #9-Sound Sleep is way too far down on the list. Sleep is so much more important than our culture realizes. To my mind, you can’t value it highly enough. It is THE thing that restores our energy.

Also, stay hydrated (#4). It makes a big difference. And there are two  tips they left out that are very important. I added them at the bottom.

Top 10 Cold and Flu Busters – How to Stay Well Through Winter

The common cold or the flu can run you down for weeks. And the worst part is that life doesn’t stop while you’re home sipping chicken soup. Chores, errands and work pile up, and playing catch-up is the last thing you’ll want to do once you feel better. Upward of one billion colds plague Americans from October to March each year. But you don’t have to be one of them. Keep yourself out of the infirmary with these 10 tips for the cold and flu season…

1. Don’t Touch
Keep your hands off any possible germ-infested surface (which accounts for just about everything), and off your face. Direct contact with a sick person, such as touching or kissing, is the #1 way germs are transmitted. Eighty percent of colds are spread by direct contact.

Indirect contact, such as handling a doorknob that a sick person has touched (unbeknownst to you), and then spreading it to your face by touching your mouth, nose or eyes, is another common way germs travel from person to person.

It’s impossible to stop touching everything, but you should be mindful of where your hands have been. Wash your hands regularly and don’t touch your own mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth) after handling people or objects.

natural-prevention2. Wash Up
Proper hand-washing is especially important during the cold and flu season. But according to a 2007 study by the American Society for Microbiology and The Soap and Detergent Association, only 77% of men and women wash their hands in public bathrooms. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that hand-washing is the single most important prevention step for reducing disease transmission.

Any time you use the bathroom, wash your hands with warm, soapy water for at least 15 seconds (the time it takes to sing the ABCs).

After washing, don’t touch the faucet, paper towel dispenser knob or door handle on the way out. Use your forearms or elbows to turn off the faucet and to dispense paper. Carry your used paper towel to the bathroom exit and use it to open the door, throwing the towel into the garbage afterward.

3. Stop Stressing
You’ve heard it once, you’ll hear it twice: Stress not only negatively affects your mental health, but it affects your physical health, too.

Stress raises cortisol levels, which weakens the immune system. And to compound that stress, people tend to make poor choices when it comes to eating, exercising and sleeping when they feel strained, further weakening the immune system. Add that to the fact that two stressful holidays – Thanksgiving and Christmas – fall during the cold and flu season, and it’s no wonder you get sick.

Stress is an inevitable fact of life, but you can counteract it by finding a balance and learning to unwind. Whether it’s exercising, journaling, repeating positive affirmations, or hanging out with family and friends, whatever helps you de-stress, do it often. Incorporate some peace and relaxation into every day.

4. Fundamental Fluids
Drink up! Downing eight 8-ounce glasses of water should be part of your regular routine every day, but especially during cold and flu season. Water is used by every cell in your body and is essential for flushing out toxins and germs.

If water isn’t your beverage of choice, find ways to make it more appealing and flavorful. Have fresh-cut lemon or lime wedges on hand, or purchase flavored or sparkling water at the grocery store. Always have a reusable container of water with you, too.

Hot tea is also a good way to take in more water. Not only is it soothing in the cold winter months, but hot tea (especially peppermint flavors) can help clear nasal congestion and open your airways.

balanced-diet5. Eat Well
Now isn’t the time to indulge in the heavier, hearty meals we gravitate to during fall and winter. Your food choices impact your immune system, and nutrient-rich foods will keep it healthy and happy.

A healthy immune system is your best defense against pathogens such as viruses, bacteria and carcinogens that make you ill. Immune cells are found throughout your body – in your tonsils, lymph nodes, spleen, thymus gland, and bone marrow. By focusing on nutrient-rich foods instead of high-calorie, sugary or fatty foods such as cookies, fried chicken, or donuts, you can help ward off illness.

The best foods to include in your diet are:

•    Omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon, herring and mackerel
•    Low-fat yogurt
•    Nuts and seeds
•    Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit
•    Vitamin-rich vegetables, such as leafy greens, tomatoes, broccoli, and sweet potatoes
•    Lean protein,  found in chicken, fish, tofu, eggs and low-fat dairy foods
•    Garlic and onion

6. Antioxidants
Some of the best antioxidants for keeping you healthy are vitamin A, C and E.

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a disease-fighting antioxidant and immune-system booster. It helps prevent and fight infections by regulating the immune system that makes white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses. Vitamin A may help lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell that fights infections) function more effectively. The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is 4,000 IU daily for women and 5,000 IU daily for men.

Preformed vitamin A is found in animal foods such as eggs, whole milk and liver, and in fortified foods such as breakfast cereals. Provitamin A carotenoids, like beta-carotene, are abundant in dark-colored fruits and vegetables such as carrots, leafy greens, cantaloupe, broccoli, squash, sweet potatoes, and peas.

Vitamin C
Your immune system relies heavily on this vitamin for proper functioning. Studies have shown that vitamin C helps shorten the duration and intensity of colds, as well as help fight respiratory infections.

The RDA for vitamin C is 60 mg a day for both men and women. Many experts believe that taking up to 200 mg a day is most beneficial. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits and juices, broccoli, dark greens, kiwi, red peppers, and strawberries.

Vitamin E
While not as well-known an immune booster as vitamin C, Vitamin E promotes the production of B-cells that produce antibodies and destroy harmful bacteria. The RDA for women is 8 mg or 12 IU per day, and 10mg or 15 IU daily for men. Higher doses, in the 400-800 IU per day range, are used for full antioxidant effects. Taking vitamin C along with vitamin E may enhance its antioxidant power.

7. Minerals
One of the most important and popular minerals in beating the cold and flu season is zinc. This mineral is required for the production and activation of T-cells, a type of white blood cell that is involved in battling infections. Without these T-cells, the immune system can become overwhelmed with bacteria or viruses that it cannot fight off.

Zinc empowers the immune system to wipe out infections and can help shorten a cold’s duration by destroying the virus that is at the back of the throat. Most effective is sucking on sugar-free zinc lozenges every two hours from the very start of the cold.

The RDA for zinc is 12 mg for women and 15 mg for men. Protein-rich foods are high in zinc. These include red meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, beans, nuts, whole grains, and fortified breakfast cereals. Almonds are also a terrific vegetarian source of zinc; just four ounces can supply half the RDA for women. However, don’t overload on too much of a good thing. Excess amounts of zinc (80 mg or more per day) can actually make women more susceptible to urinary tract infections.

8. Get Fit
It’s true: People who exercise regularly are less likely to get sick. In fact, studies have shown that exercising daily and maintaining a healthy body weight bolsters your immune system and helps your body fight infection.

Daily exercise, whether a walk after dinner or a kickboxing class at the gym, also keeps your stress levels in check and promotes a better night’s rest. However, too much exercise can have the opposite effect. If you’re a serious athlete, don’t forget to include rest days in your fitness routine to give your body a break.

Cold weather is no reason to take up residence on your sofa. Try indoor activities like lifting free weights or doing an exercise video in your living room. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

zzz-cartoon-moon9. Sound Sleep
The days get shorter, but it’s still difficult to get the eight hours of sleep a night that experts recommend. However, during the cold and flu season, getting enough zzzs is especially important. If you’re sleep-deprived, you’re more susceptible to getting sick. You need the strength you get from rest to help you fight off a cold or flu. Plus, a lack of sleep makes you tired, cranky and unproductive. As a result, you get stressed out, further breaking down your immune system.

Develop an evening routine to help you bed down easier. Turn off all distractions like TV and the computer long before you’re ready to fall asleep. Avoid late-night exercise, caffeinated drinks and food close to bedtime. Keep your room dark and at a comfortably cool temperature.

10. Get Vaccinated
If you really want to maximize your odds of avoiding the flu, get vaccinated. The CDC reports that the U.S. has produced the most doses of the vaccine ever this year.

Flu season begins in October and can last through May. While experts recommend getting vaccinated in October or November, you can still do it in December or later. The flu vaccine is recommended for people at high risk of developing serious flu complications: children under 5 years old, pregnant women, people over the age of 50, and people in contact with those who are at high risk. Of course, anyone can get vaccinated.

The vaccine is available as a shot or a nasal-spray. Its effectiveness depends on the age and health status of the person, as well as the similarity between the virus strains and the strains in circulation.

The other two things that greatly enhance your cold and flu prevention efforts are:

  • Close the lid before you flush the toilet. You would not believe the amount of spray that goes out into the bathroom when you flush a toilet. That spray is loaded with germs. Loaded! So close the lid first, then flush.
  • Get regular shiatsu. It boosts your immune system in a major way. That’s not a plug. It’s a legitimately researched and documented fact. Check it out.