I came down with a flu during St. Patrick weekend, that really sucked as I wanted to be out celebrating. I used to live in Ireland and St. Patrick’s day was a huge thing. It still is a reason to celebrate, even tho it’s more then 5 years that I moved out from Ireland. However, this time I was forced to celebrate it at home, alone with a flu. So eventually I started to think that at least I should cook something nice for myself. Maybe I could make something that would help with the flu also. So I started to think about flu food and settled for beef chili after checking on the freezer and dry food cabinets.
So about the flu food
There are quite a few ingredients in the kitchen that can help with a flu. They’re not gonna cure it completely but can make flu symptoms more tolerable or ease them a little. You can use them in cooking or just eat them raw. Using them in cooking can result in more delicious remedy. Soups are the most popular foods when you have a flu but a stew, curry or chili can be as good, or even better depending what you put in it.
Foods and spices against a flu:
- Garlic acts as natural antibiotic, it has compounds that have anti-infective and antioxidant properties. Garlic is also a source of minerals such as selenium, calcium and phosphorus and it has lots of vitamin C, B6 and Manganese.
- Chilies are rich in vitamins and minerals and have antioxidant properties which come from capsaicin. This compound is also the cause of the burning sensation of chilies. Capsaicin can also help against inflammation and it’s very helpful to clear mucus from clogged up nose or congested lungs.
- Onions are high in sulfuric compounds, like thiosulfinates that has antioxidant properties. Onions also have very high quantity of quercetin which can help boost your immune system. There is other health benefits from onions, they for example can prevent hearth disease.
- Ginger can help with muscle pain as it has inflammatory properties. This inflammatory effects don’t start right away from consuming ginger but build over time. Ginger also has antiviral and antibacterial properties and it helps you to sweat out the toxins in your body.
- Lemon is rich on vitamin C and 1 lemon provides about half of the recommended daily intake. Lemons are also good source of fibers that can lower blood sugar levels. To get those fibers however you need to consume the pulp also, so don’t discard it when juicing lemons.
- Honey is rich on antioxidants and bioactive plant compounds. It’s much healthier option to use as a sweetener then refined sugar. It can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
- Banana won’t help with stuffy nose or sore throat. Bananas however can help with restless stomach and muscle pain which often are side effects from having a flu. They are also rich on vitamins and minerals.
- Berries are loaded with antioxidants to fight off flu viruses. They are also rich on vitamins, fibre and minerals. Use fresh berries for best nutritional value, or frozen berries. If they have been cooked, some berries loose their nutritional value.
- Turmeric has antioxidant and antiviral properties due to curcumin, chemical that turmeric is rich on. Use fresh turmeric or powdered in cooking or make tea or mix in to warm milk.
- Horseradish and Wasabi both have the same effects that help clear mucus and open up airways.
There is no rule to say that you couldn’t mix any of the stuff together. In fact, it would be recommended to do so to create your own flu food. For example, mixing garlic, honey and lemon juice together makes for a powerful mixture to help with flu symptoms.
So about the Beef Chili
I sometimes make other spicy food also when I have a cold, but chili is so effortless to make. And when making flu food, effortless is the key.
I had some steak beef leftovers in the freezer and I had been thinking already what to make out of them. This was the perfect moment to use them, had some ground beef also. And well, the rest is quite easy.
In a mortar I grinded some black pepper, white pepper, red pepper, fried chilies, cumin seeds and cayenne pepper. A good spice mix for flu food. I wanted to use smoked paprika powder also but didn’t have any so I used a bit of smoked barbecue seasoning in the spice mix. I cut the beef into a bite size chunks and fried them up in a little oil, sprinkled some of the spice mixture on the beef. Same with the ground beef, cook it through and add some spice mixture.
I used about 250 grams of beef chopped in small pieces and 300 grams of ground beef. 1 large onion and 6 garlic cloves and 3 cans of chopped tomatoes. 1 can of red kidney beans and 1 carrot. I added couple bay leaves also in the pot and rest of the grinded spices.
If you want a proper Beef chili, it takes time.
Now we just wait for 1.5 hours, stirring the pot every 10-15 minutes. Close to the end I added about 1.5 dl of barley and added some extra water so the barley doesn’t soak up all the liquid from the chili. It took maybe 30 minutes for the barley to cook through.
But for a proper chili you shouldn’t need rice or barley. I just added barley in this case to have the chili more filling. And I hoped barley would provide some balance for the fiery broth I had created. Didn’t want my butt feeling the burn also..
After the barley had cooked through, it was time for a final taste test and time to plate up. Barley did lessen the burn a little which was good because I didn’t have any sour cream. I like a small spoonful of that on my chili.