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.

Two hundred and fifty-six

Remembrance Day

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-John McCrae

Today we remember all those who fought for their country and served during wartime.  We honour their courage and sacrifice.  At the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month each year two minutes of silence is held, commemorating the anniversary of the signing of the armistice which ended World War I hostilities between Germany and the Allies in 1918.

There are many events happening throughout the Commonwealth countries to commemorate the armed forces who have died in the line of duty.  In the United States the day is referred to as Veteran’s Day and in France and Belgium it is Armistice Day.  See here for some events happening in the Toronto area.

Both of my grandfathers served their country, one Canadian and one American, and every November 11th I think about the sacrifices they made for their children, their grandchildren and all the future generations.  My boppa, who I visited his grave for All Soul’s Day, would never talk about the war.  It was too much for him to speak out loud.  I thank them for what they did, as well as all other men and women who have served for us.

Whether you believe in the need for war or not, do not forget.

Recap of Forget Me Not Day

Funny how “forget me not” comes right before “remembrance” day.  The importance of not forgetting those important around us in a small scale, to remembering those who allowed us to be able to have the freedom to keep those important people in our lives in a large scale.

Yesterday I called a woman who helped raise me, who played a part in who I am now, who I am grateful to still have in my life.  Mary was my babysitter/nanny from when I was a newborn until I was old enough not to need a caregiver anymore.  My mom worked shifts and my dad worked 9-5, so when we were old enough to go to school and get home on our own, Mary would be at our house to keep us company after school until my dad got home.  In those two hours we made crafts, she helped us with our homework, we played games and chatted about what was going on in our lives.  She is family to me, even though we are not blood related.

Mary is now in her 80s and is having a hard time.  She was sick with pneumonia twice this summer, had an infection on her hand and her toe, her sight is deteriorating, she’s had multiple knee operations.  She is strong, though, and still lives alone in an apartment, walks to the grocery store to do her own shopping, cooks her own meals.  She is an inspiration to me.

Unfortunately, I haven’t made enough of an effort this past summer to see her.  I can list off excuses, but none are good enough.  Today I called her and we chatted about life.  I’m going to go visit her next week, as well as my Nana (who is always giving me guilt trips about not seeing her enough – she reads my blog and I’m going to get in trouble for writing that…).

Sometimes we need a little nudge to connect with those people who we don’t see every day, but are dear to our heart.