I’m one of those lucky people that rarely gets sick during cold and flu season. It wasn’t always like that, though. When I didn’t eat healthy and hadn’t yet learned about using herbs and supplements to boost my immune system, I would be a sniffling, sneezing, coughing mess.
If you’re in the northeast right now, you’ve recently experienced some sudden changes in weather: from warm, sunny spring days, to a blizzard and freezing temperatures in less than a week’s time. It’s a shock to our bodies (and emotions, honestly) that our immune system may have difficulty handling. Lucky for you, Superego readers, I’m feeling generous and want to share my secrets to preventing (or reducing the length and symptoms of) the cold or flu. This is going to be a super long post, so I'm splitting it into two parts-homemade remedies, and supplements.
The most important part of building your immune system is a healthy diet. I know that takes commitment and knowledge, and not everyone is willing to eat a salad instead of a slice (or 4) of pizza. Trust me, when I’m feeling icky, all I want is some comfort food. It’s okay to indulge a little, maybe try to find a healthier homemade version of what you’re craving; but when you feel the symptoms of a cold coming on, it’s time to get lots of nutrients! I have a bunch of remedies for you guys, and recipes for all of them using ingredients you may already have in the kitchen-including a recipe that has all of them in one dish!
My first go-to herbal remedy is ginger tea. Ginger has so many benefits and helps with numerous ailments, so I use it for just about everything. Drinking ginger tea when you feel symptoms of a cold or the flu will help you feel better, thanks to the anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties to relieve pain, expectorant properties to loosen mucus in the lungs and sinuses, and antibacterial/antiviral properties to help fight the cold or flu.
You can make ginger tea at home by taking a large piece (or slices) of ginger in a pot of water. Bring it to a boil, then let simmer for at least 20 minutes to release the delicious healing power. I drink this straight, but feel free to add a little honey for sweetness. Sometimes I’ll add a little cayenne for an extra boost, or lemon for vitamin C. The warmth and spice of the tea gives me instant relief. In a pinch, I’ll get or make a juice made with ginger and greens. If you have a juicer, make my Cold Buster Shot recipe.
A chunk of ginger
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
Greens of your choice
Juice the greens, apple and ginger. Stir in the cayenne, drink it immediately. It’s super spicy and not for the faint of heart. But it works when you’re feeling crummy!
Another great herbal remedy is garlic! We use it in pretty much every savory recipe, and I love the flavor. Garlic actually has antiviral properties. I like to slice a clove in small pieces, let it sit for about 10 minutes to allow the allicin to activate, and swallow the pieces like pills. Allicin helps our white blood cells fight off disease. Garlic increases our immune system, reducing the length of a cold or the flu, and even prevents us from getting sick in the first place! Another great way to get garlic in your system is by infusing honey with it! Chop a few cloves of garlic and let them hang out on the cutting board for 10 minutes. Put some raw honey and a splash of apple cider vinegar in a small jar. Stir in the garlic. You can take this by the spoonful or add it to your favorite recipes. I love this mixture on roasted veggies, especially carrots and cauliflower, with a sprinkle of fresh thyme.
If you feel congested, the best way to open your sinuses is by eating spicy food! Thai curry is one of my favorites since it’s creamy from the coconut milk, it has tons of veggies for nutrient power, and I can make is as spicy as I want. Plus, ginger is a necessary component-and we all know how amazing ginger is. Adding spices to your food such as cayenne, jalapenos, gochujang, sambal, chilis, and anything else you can think of opens your sinuses and relieves congestion. Keep tissues nearby when you’re chowing down on spicy dishes!
Here’s my curry recipe. It has all of my favorite cold-busting ingredients and I can’t get enough of it. Try to find an Asian market and pick up a few containers of curry paste- prik khing (red) and masaman (yellow) are great to start with, since they contain garlic, ginger, and chilis, and it’s not too spicy- but I usually add a little gochujang to make it even spicier.
Thai coconut curry
You will need:
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ‘thumb’ of ginger, minced
2T curry paste
1t gochujang or chili paste
½ c coconut milk
Whatever veggies you have laying around!
Start by sauteing your veggies in enough water to cover the pan. I’ll add the more fibrous, crunchy veggies first since they take longer to cook. Stir in the garlic, ginger, and curry paste and the optional chili paste. Add the other veggies, then the coconut milk. Let simmer until the veggies are cooked to your liking. I prefer some crunch so it’s a super quick meal for me! I usually eat this on its own, but you can serve it over rice.
The key to fighting illness is prevention first. Try these recipes even if you’re not feeling sick to give your cells the nutrients they need. If you’re already feeling a bit under the weather, a little kitchen magic works wonders for relief! Let’s get our immune systems in fighting shape. Time to kick some flu ass! Stay well, friends. -N