I got a question last night (hi mom!) about what I would recommend for a sore throat. It’s that time of year, so I thought I’d share my top five foods to “feed a cold,” plus a super delish way to put them all together! I can never remember if the saying is feed a cold, starve a fever, or the other way around, but I’m a firm believer that there’s a food to nourish every ailment, so we’re going to go with that one (and because this applies to colds and flus alike)!
Most of these recommendations have one thing in common – they’re foods with antimicrobial properties. Antimicrobial, because that’s what you’re fighting off – invasive bacterial and viral microorganisms that are making you feel like poop! Yup, that’s the official scientific explanation. Just ask anyone. A scientist, even.
In no particular order, top 5 foods to help your body fight off nasty cold and flu symptoms:
Ginger will burn the sh*t out of any cold or flu, and leave you feeling warm and fuzzy, not cold and crappy.
Just slice or mince up a 1/2 inch piece of fresh ginger, throw it into a pot with about 2 cups of water and let ‘er boil away for 2-5 minutes. If you let it boil on the longer side, be aware that your water will reduce, so you might want to begin with a little bit more. You can keep this totally raw as well, by pouring just boiled water over a tablespoon or so of grated or minced fresh ginger in a mug.
Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of room temperature or warm water and drink up, om nom nom. Alternatively, squeeze half a lemon into your ginger tea and double up! Whoa! If you have an organic lemon, after you squeeze the juice out, add the lemon itself to your water or tea, as the lemon oils in the rind have super antimicrobial properties. Skip this step with non-organic, as the rind and oils are where the pesticides accumulate most and I think we can all agree, no one wants to drink pesticide tea! Blech!
Everyone knows garlic has super antivampiral qualities, but it’s also a sweet antimicrobial. For the hardcore (hi mom and dad!), slice up and chew on a raw clove of garlic every day for curative and preventative magic. Otherwise, add it to brothy soups, homemade salad dressings and fresh juices. It’s best totally crushed, as the healing properties in garlic increase as it’s juices are released and exposed to the air. There has to be a better way to say that. Oh well. Crush your garlic and eat it up.
Cayenne increases circulation and busts up respiratory congestion like a mf’er. Just sayin’. Add it to your ginger lemon tea for an extra kick, and you’ll be breathing clear in no time. Actually, add it to all of your teas. Or, make tea just so you can add cayenne. It’s particularly potent and effective in a warm beverage, and really increases your body’s natural ability to fight off infections.
Unpasteurized organic miso is crazy full of living enzymes, vitamins, minerals and amino acids and is basically the wicked combo of nourishment for your body that chicken soup wishes it was. Suck it, chicken soup. Miso soup is a million times better. Plus there’s no sketchy bits of gristle or bone or whatever at the bottom of your bowl, the stuff that made me want to retch a bit as a kid. Make sure to never ever EVER boil your miso, as that will kill the enzymes and reduce it’s awesomeness. We’re going to make a super healing and delicious miso soup next, which is the best thing to do with miso. Or just dissolve a tablespoon into a mug of hot water and drink it like a cup o’ soup (suck it, Campbell’s!).
Aaaaaaand the sixth, unofficial member of the top five:
So, it’s not a food, but really none of these foods will be very effective if you’re not properly hydrated. You may have noticed that all of these “foods” are being added to beverages! Not an accident even a little bit! The more fluids you take in, the more toxins your body can flush out, and the better all of your natural healing capabilities will be enhanced and on-point to keep you healthiest.
Putting it all Together:
Miso Ginger Soup
1-2 tbsp organic miso, probably one of the lighter ones like Aka but feel free to experiment with any type
3 cups water
1/2 inch fresh ginger, sliced or minced
1/2-1 clove garlic, crushed
2 cups chopped kale, chard, cabbage, broccoli or spinach
1 cup of sliced carrot, celery, pepper, mushroom or other veg
juice half lemon
dash cayenne pepper
Optional: 1/4 cup cubed firm tofu, tbsp chopped cilantro, chopped green or red onion.
Add minced ginger to pot of water over med-high heat, bring to a boil. Add in garlic and vegetables, cook 2-3 minutes until greens turn BRIGHT green and begin to soften but don’t get mushy (yuckers!), remove from heat. In bowl, mix together miso and 2 tbsp of hot broth so no chunks of miso remain. When soup broth is no longer boiling, pour soup & veg into serving bowl. Top with fresh lemon juice and a few dashes of cayenne pepper to taste. Add optional tofu, cilantro, green or red onion.
No, it won’t make you sick. It’ll keep you from getting sick, or make you feel better when you are sick. I “learned” this one in my days working at Fresh. (I honestly don’t know why I put that in quotations. I think b/c this seems so simple that my culinary sensibilities feel offended at having to admit I “learned” this “recipe” from anyone. Let’s just say I was born with the knowledge of this tea, shall we? That’s better.)
2 cups boiling water
few slices fresh ginger
1/2 lemon, juiced
cayenne to taste
Optional: actual tea bag, I would recommend green tea, white tea or any herbal teas
Pour boiling water over all ingredients. Steep until drinkable temperature. Drink.
In general, it’s best to eat light and consume lots of fluids as a preventative or healing measure during cold and flu season. You want your immune system (and all other systems!) to be in best fighting form to avoid being a sicky, or kick it fast if you get something. Refined sugars, and all other sugars to a certain extent, inhibit the functioning of our immune systems so if you feel something coming on, avoid sugar like the plague you’re also hoping to avoid.
I’ve definitely mentioned this previously, but green vegetables are one of the healthiest foods evar, so load up. Put ’em in your smoothies and soups and scarf salads for maximum nutrient density.
I promise to have something a little more fun for tomorrow. Like, chocolate peppermint fun.