Two hundred and fifty-seven

Happy Chicken Soup for the Soul Day!

Yep, those books that inspired us, our moms, teachers, young at heart, preteens, runners, dogs, alternate universe selves… ok, that’s going a little too far, but I swear there is a Chicken Soup for the Soul for everything.  There are over 200 titles, selling over 112 million copies and translated to more than 40 languages.  There is even Chicken Soup for the Soul brand pet food, publishing, games, toys, dvds, pasta sauces and baby food!  They’ve come pretty far since their first book in 1993.

Our grandmothers always told us that chicken soup is the best cure.  I will admit I used to love those books.  So inspirational.  And gives you warm fuzzies – just like homemade chicken soup.

Why is chicken soup thought to be a cure when you have a cold or the flu?  Does it actually help or is it a myth?  This is a topic of much controversy.  Here are a few answers:

Shara Aaron, MS, RD, and Christine M. Porretta, “Feel-Good Foods: 10 Cold & Flu Fighters”:

“Chicken soup has specifically been shown in studies to thin mucus secretions. Broth and noodles provide carbohydrates for maintaining your energy levels, potentially helping you feel less lethargic. If you add vegetables, you’ll boost the level of nutrients in the soup, which will help support immune function.”

Tara Parker-Pope on Health, “The Science of Chicken Soup”, New York Times blog:

“As it turns out, a handful of scientific studies show that chicken soup really could have medicinal value.  The most widely cited of these studies, published in the medical journal Chest in 2000, is by Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. He conducted laboratory tests to determine why chicken soup might help colds, beginning with his wife’s homemade recipe, handed down by her Lithuanian grandmother. Using blood samples from volunteers, he showed that the soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. Dr. Rennard theorizes that by inhibiting the migration of these infection-fighting cells in the body, chicken soup essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.”

From the same study at “Doctors Test Chicken Soup for a cold – Don’t Laugh”:

“Store-bought chicken soup (listed in order of presumed effectiveness):

Knorr’s Chicken Flavor Chicken Noodle
Campbell’s Home Cookin’ Chicken Vegetable
Campbell’s Healthy Request Chicken Noodle
Lipton’s Cup-o-soup, Chicken Noodle
Progresso Chicken Noodle.
Other brands, including some of Campbell’s, were less effective.

Here’s the recipe. More work of course, but you can cut the excessive use of salt found in store-bought types:

1 5-to 6-lb stewing hen or baking chicken,
1 package of chicken wings,
3 large onions,
l large sweet potato,
3 parsnips,
2 turnips,
11 to 12 large carrots,
5 to 6 celery stems,
1 bunch of parsley,
salt and pepper to taste.

Cover the chicken with cold water, and bring it to boiling. Add chicken wings, onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips and carrots. Boil about 1 1/2 hours, removing fat regularly. Add the parsley and celery. Cook all about 45 minutes longer. Remove the chicken, which is no longer used for the soup. Put the vegetables in a food processor until chopped fine or pass them through a strainer. Add salt and pepper.”

It is also believed by some that breathing in the steam from the hot soup can help with congestion and the spices such as garlic and pepper help with the thinning of mucus.  Some doctors remain skeptical and further research is unlikely because of the differences in chicken soup recipes.

More of the debate at Google Answers: Does Chicken Soup Work?

Remembrance Day recap

Pledge of Remembrance

They were young, as we are young,

They served, giving freely of themselves.

To them, we pledge, amid the winds of time,

To carry their torch and never forget.

We will remember them.

Yesterday I went to the Ontario Remembrance Day ceremony at Queen’s Park.  A windy, brisk day, yet hundreds of people stood outside to hear the Last Post; take two minutes of silence; listen to the reading of Flanders Fields; watch the laying of the wreaths in front of the Veterans’ Memorial; hear Premier Dalton McGuinty, Brigadier-General F.A. Lewis and Major-General Richard Rohmer speak; and pin a poppy on the People’s Wreath.  Thousands more honoured our veterans at the Toronto ceremony at Old City Hall.

Although I observe the two minutes of silence every year, this is the first time I’ve attended a ceremony.  I had a few tears in my eyes when the mother of a fallen soldier placed a wreath on the memorial.  I will always remember the sacrifices these men and women made for our country.