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So, here I am, in bed, suffering with a bad cold.
Before you think I’m a total wimp, a chef with a cold is like “flying blind” in a storm because I’ve temporarily lost two of my most important culinary navigational devices:
My sense of taste and smell.
For a Chef, of all the organoleptic senses we humans possess, taste and smell are (1a. and 1b.) essentials for us in the kitchen. Without them, it’s almost like trying to cook… “on-line” instead of “in-person”.
When you have a bad cold, the only thing you can think about is just wanting to get better…NOW!
And if the adage is true that: “you are what you eat”, then what should you eat, if what you want to be is: “over a cold”?
Here’s my own personal collection of: “Foods You Should Eat When You Have a Cold”.
First, I’ll honestly say that although I take my daily multi-vitamin, my eating habits are all over the map. It comes with the territory I guess. And so, while I know I should really be eating more Vitamin C rich citrus fruits to prevent a cold or lessen the effects of one you might still get, I’ve instead, just tried to convince my immune system that a lemon filled Paczki is really the same thing… and hope for the best.
And so here I am with a cold….
Time for plan “B” I guess?
If your taste buds, like mine, are on strike, it probably doesn’t even matter what it tastes like, in this case, oatmeal, a slice of bread or some crackers would do the trick to keep your stomach full but what fun is that??
And believe me, I also know, that when your head is stuffy and your throat’s on fire, the last thing you may be thinking about is food.
But diet can be an important factor in determining how you feel and how quickly you recover.
What are the best foods to eat when you already have a cold?
Here are some thoughts: generally, the rule is; the simpler the better.
Obviously, drink LOTS of fluids. Soups, liquids, and honey are the best types of liquid foods to eat when you have a cold and the warmer the better. Warm drinks and soups help to soothe the irritation and swelling in your throat and the steam can help relieve some of your congestion.
This is nothing new.
So I’ll begin where every mother begins….
And believe it or not, I’m here to tell you that Chicken Noodle Soup is GREAT for a cold. It’s actually been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which may help reduce some of the inflammatory changes that occur in the sinuses and airways when you have a cold. Chicken soup contains cysteine, an amino acid that acts like the common bronchitis drug, acetylcysteine, which protects the bronchial tubes from the accumulation of inflammatory cells. The warm saltiness of the chicken broth also prevents thickening of the mucus, keeping the temperature in the throat high and relieving cough symptoms. For even greater benefit, add a little garlic to your chicken soup. Garlic is thought to have anti-viral and immune enhancing properties. It contains allicin, ajoene and thiosulfinates, which guard your body against cold and flu. Eating garlic during a cold will shorten the amount of time it takes you to heal and alleviates the common cold and flu symptoms, such as cough or nasal congestion.
And now…..a word from our sponsors…
Thankfully, for me, and you, Nino’s Homemade Chicken Noodle soup is the real deal, made from our Rotisserie Chickens, and all the good stuff you see throughout our stores. It’s everything Mom would have given you, minus the fluffed up pillow and a kiss on your forehead.
Ok, now we’re back.
Eating yogurt with live bacteria when you have a cold or the flu is also a good way to improve your health. Friendly bacteria stimulate the production of white blood cells, which fight off the diseases. People, who ate yogurt with live bacteria on a regular basis, had higher levels of immune system T cells, which keep our body from disease-causing germs. Bacteria in yogurt also help to absorb many nutrients, which are important for our immune system. Yogurt with active cultures, that are also known as probiotics or live healthy bacteria, can help fight colds in the first place. One, Lactobacillus reuteri (found in Stonyfield Farm yogurt) are very good.
Mother’s translation?.. Eat it….it’s good for you….And Mom,….we carry it at Nino’s too…
Morning cereals are not only a good start to your day, but also great food to eat when you have the common cold or flu. Whole grains such as oats and barley deliver three nutrients known to support your immune system: selenium, zinc and beta-glucan. Eating whole grain cereals will help you prevent the flu and other viral infections. Also, compounds in whole grains contribute to faster wound healing and increases the effectiveness of antibiotics.
Honey is a common natural remedy used for centuries for the cold and flu. Honey relieves a sore throat, reduces a cough and helps you sleep more soundly. Warm water with honey and lemon is a good remedy for relieving congestion and staying hydrated during the cold and flu.
Now, for a curve ball, which at first might sound counter intuitive.
Consider eating some spicy foods when you have a cold.
Although this may not be the best idea if your throat is really sore, spicy foods are excellent for clearing out the sinuses and helping to reduce overall congestion. Wasabe, for example, can have a profound effect on congestion…take MY word on that!
Mushrooms are also a popular home remedy for cold and flu in China and Japan. Mushrooms are known to boost the immune system, by helping your body produce white blood cells, which fight off the infection. Shiitake mushrooms are especially rich in beta-glucan that activates your immune system and guards your body against infections.
Back to vitamin C, lemons, like other citrus fruits including oranges, contain the highest amount of vitamin C, which protects your body from cell damage and boosts the immune system. The rind of the lemon is rich in liminene and liminoids substances that improve immune system functioning. Lemon juice helps to relieve congestion, keeping the mucus thin.
Food to avoid.
In simple terms, avoid easily digested carbohydrates like pastries, tarts, cakes, white bread, white rice and sugar. Also avoid eating meat as high protein and high fat food require more energy and it takes longer for the body to digest. You may need to eat less dairy products like cheese, whole milk and others as they have a mucous enhancing effect. No sense in throwing more wood on a “fire” that you’re trying to put out.
So, what’s for dinner tonight?
Pete’s Penicillin. (Makes about 3 Cups)
1 TBSP. Sesame or Vegetable Oil
1 tsp. Garlic, Fresh, Chopped
1/2 tsp. Ginger, Fresh, Chopped
1/2 Cup Shiitake Mushrooms, Fresh, Sliced
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1/2 Cup Cooked Chicken Meat, Diced
1/2 Cup Cooked Barley
2 TBSP. Lemon Juice
1 TBSP. Honey
1/4 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (opt.)
- Gently sauté garlic, ginger and mushrooms in oil.
- Add all remaining ingredients and bring to a slow simmer.
- Serve steaming hot!