Anyone who has ever tried to make a doctor’s appointment at the McGill Health Clinic knows how difficult it can be. Appointments are booked weeks in advance. The drop-in clinic is usually full before it even opens, and students lucky enough to get an appointment sometimes see only a nurse rather than a doctor. The people working at health services are no doubt working as hard as they can, but health services simply does not hire enough staff to satisfy student demand, especially during cold and flu season. At present, the clinic employs fewer than 20 doctors for a student body of over 34,000. With only one doctor for every 2,000 students, it is no wonder that appointments are hard to come by. Lowly undergrad that I am, I have neither the administrative clout nor the knowledge of the health care system to fix this problem myself. And so, what I offer to you today are two delicious immune boosting recipes to keep you all healthy and happy during the holidays.

1. Tomato soup from scratch:
This recipe is cheap, healthy, and almost too delicious to handle. Not to mention, of course, that garlic and tomatoes are great for the immune system.

One package of ripe cherry tomatoes, two cans of whole plum tomatoes, three cloves of garlic (minced), one package of basil, about half a baguette (preferably stale, but fresh will do), lots of olive oil.

Start by preheating the oven to 350 Celsius. Separate the basil leaves from the stalks, loosely chop the leaves, and finely mince the stalks. Put the cherry tomatoes in a bowl with about a quarter of the basil and one clove of minced garlic, drizzle with olive oil, and mix it all around. Next, place the cherry tomatoes on a baking sheet in the oven with all of the garlic and basil. This will intensify the tomatoes’ flavour.

In the meantime, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan or thick-bottomed pot and add the rest of the garlic and the basil stalks. Sauté until the garlic is lightly browned, and pour in both cans of tomatoes, and add one can of water. Break up the tomatoes with a spoon, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.

While the soup is simmering, cut the bread into approximately two-inch-long pieces. After the 10 minutes, add the remaining basil and the bread to the pot. By this time, the cherry tomatoes should be bursting from their skins. Scrape them and all the delicious liquid in the pan into the soup. Leave the soup on low for another few minutes until the bread has dissolved somewhat and the whole thing is thick. Serve piping hot.

2. Apple cinnamon yams:
An apple a day keeps the doctor away, plus the beta carotene in the yams is good for you.

Yams (the orange ones; sweet potatoes are white in colour), 3 tablespoons butter/margarine, cinnamon, grated apple (firm Granny Smith apples work really well), a splash of milk if you like it smooth, optional brown sugar for those of us with a sweet tooth.

You can heat the yams in the oven in tin-foil for an hour on 375 Celsius to soften them up, but that takes forever, so I usually microwave them for between five and 10 minutes (depending on the size of the yam). It makes no difference whether you peel them before or after. Grate the apple using a normal cheese grater. The recipe is very simple. Add everything together, mash until desired consistency, and enjoy.